Friday, April 23, 2010

Old Dogs, Old Tricks.

One of the things about a sport like mtn biking is that now matter how good you are, you can always do it better...ride smoother, ride faster, pedal more efficiently, clean that log trick this time, etc.  It is both a blessing and a curse since it allows for constant growth, both in the micro..."I need to hit that line just a bit to the left next time and stay off the brakes"...or the macro as in training harder to shed pounds/seconds/finish times, etc.  The curse?  Feeling like you could have always done that better and knowing it is true.

The other day I was struggling with the stupid habit of not looking far enough ahead down the trail.  It is an easy trap to fall into, and I had fallen big time.  I am not sure why I became aware of it, but there it was and it was messin' with my flow.

The deal goes like this:  You fix your eyes on a fast approaching corner or obstacle and close the gap, keeping your eyes on the target.  When you get there, still moving fast, you lift your gaze and look at the next section, something you are already into by this time, and then repeat the same thing, but by now you are not prepared for what is next and too much brakes or too little brakes and the ride is just a series of corrections and adjustments.  Your progress down the trail, instead of looking like a nicely curving line made of smooth radii and fast transitions, is more like a stitched hem from a crazed sewing machine...a straight line to a point in time, then a change in direction to another point, then another section, another point, etc. and so on and so forth.

So I began the hard work of retraining myself to look down the trail an appropriate distance for the speed and terrain, then KEEP MY EYES THERE, using memory and peripheral vision to get the bike over what is immediately in front of the wheels.  This is not easy to do and takes a certain amount of nerve since it asks you to trust your bike, your tires, and your chosen line to get you through as you ride mentally 'ahead of yourself'.

I am gettin' there and I am halfway between smooth-and-sweet flowy-ness and crazed Singer Sewing machine right now.  I am learning to trust and ride ahead of myself again and I can feel the difference when I get it right.  The bad news is I cannot always do it correctly, the good news is I can always get better and that is just another biscuit to dangle in front of this dog.


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