A poem I wrote as a reflection on my values as a mountain biker and as a learner:
You can fail in action or from inaction.
Failure from inaction arises as increasingly potent and painful signs.
Failing from actions is obvious, and culturally avoided. Tricky.
A dis-harmony between body and mind creates the developmental tension necessary to drive us to face failure through action.
Failure helps us to more accurately calibrate our body and mind with the realities of the world.
We can use sport and yoga to practice failing.
Embedded in every failure is opportunity.
We must be conscious of when we fail in order for the opportunity to fully emerge.
Honoring this opportunity is the pre-requisite of healthy growth.
We all start out in riding by imitating.
Monkey See Monkey Do. (to borrow the title of an old Hans Rey film)
That’s what we are for the most part, monkeys.
Almost all our abilities on our bikes, arise from imitation.
Typically, once you master what you’re imitating, then you’re in a position to add to it.
This goes for style just as much as technique.
An example from my career. I combined a variety of skills I’d imitated from many different pros, and the result was something unique, the Leech Loop, excerpt from my old instructional trials film, Mastering the Art of Trials.
Though it should more accurately be named ‘all the riders I imitated plus me loop’.
It’s standing on the shoulders of giants.
My portion is very very small. But someone needed to make that very very small contribution in order to keep this whole evolving and progressing machine running.
When you’re the first to do something, you’re making the...
This is a modified excerpt from The 30 Day Wheelie Challenge:
There is a common phenomena in technical sports where big gains are made AFTER giving up. This has been my personal experience too, though I find it’s not a matter of trying too hard, or needing to wait until you get to the point of giving up, it’s a matter of knowing when to take some time off!
I remember trying to balance down a wobbly chain on my bike for a video, tried about 200 times without success. Then came back a week or so later, and cleaned it within just a few attempts.
While there are fun days with no instruction built in to the Wheelie Challenge program with this exact phenomena in mind, you may need, as a strategic move, to take a step back for multiple days with zero practice. I’d recommend this for those who are overly frustrated, or those who are feeling some repetitive strain discomfort developing from their dedicated practice.
Everyone has a different idea of what ‘trying too...
For me, wheelies took a very long time to learn. It was one of the things I worked on when I got my first mountain bike. I practiced relentlessly to learn it, and for a while I never thought I actually would.
Eventually I did! It gave me the belief that I could learn other technical bike tricks. So when I discovered trials riding I was equipped with the belief that with enough practice I could achieve all the fun tricks I wanted.
Is there anything you've learned in or outside of riding based on your dedicated practice or study that would have otherwise seemed like a bit of a longshot?
I like to think of myself as a pro-practicer and that’s what led to my career as a pro-rider.
I remember when I was learning trials, I’d go on group rides. We’d be out riding and practicing trials for a few hours, and I would practice ten times more than anyone else in that same period of time. People would come up to me and say, “wow, you’re such a natural at...
You don’t deserve to win because doesn't everyone deserve to win who is giving it their all? Hmm. Sure you trained hard, but so did he and she. Though she had a hardship in her life, and he just overcome a traumatic life event, etc etc.
I contemplated this word ‘deserve’ during rides and yoga this week and concluded, as you can gather from my statement above, that it’s quite a dodgy and slippery word! Careful how you use it and especially how it uses you.
The moment your mind consciously begins to think it deserves something, you’ve set an expectation for the future based on past experiences which decreases your ability to be in the moment, not good if you’re an athlete striving for optimum performance. The more fervent you are about deserving a certain result, the more skewed reality can become, yikes!
Early in my career, I became quite well known, and thought I deserved a certain amount from my sponsors; this expectation skewed how I...