Patience isn’t exactly my strong point. When I decide I want something, I’m not terribly good at evaluating options, pondering the rationality of it, or stepping back to see the big picture. When I came down to Tucson, I decided I wanted tech skills. Like, real ones, not just the ‘good enough to get by’ skill-set that I’ve been operating on for the past decade. Fast, chundery downhills have always been my specialty and have aided significantly in my ability to ride fast in race situations and a few seasons of cross racing has taught me to get on and off my bike in a speedy manner so that getting off my bike to get over something has been an efficient way to operate. But for a while, racing was completely out of the question, so efficiency and speed became less of a priority, or even an option. So, me being me, decided I wanted to get good at tech.
If I couldn’t ride fast or far, at least I’d be able to ride rocks.
So I embarked on a good bout of ‘Focused Learning.’ Go read The Talent Code, awesome book. Sure enough, the skills started to come around. Unfortunately, I was too busy always setting my sights higher to really be able to appreciate clearing everything on Cat Mountain, or riding one of the rocks on Bugs that scared me, or finally getting up the Goat Hill on my first try. In my head, I wasn’t living up to expectations. But I want to be able to ride all of Millie, I want Golden Gate to go, I want to clear Cat Mountain without any dabs or sessioning.
This led to me being pretty hard on myself. I can see what’s possible on a bike by following Scott around, and I had convinced myself that if I just tried hard enough, I could get good too, in a matter of a few weeks.
Obviously, this didn’t happen, but luckily, a shift in perspective did. While I’d been completely non-commital on the racing front, I’d finally found my hook back into it. Do what you love. I like riding rocks, but I love bike packing. I like sessioning moves (on occasion), but I love long, uninterrupted rides. I like going downhill at the edge of my capabilities, but I love seeing how far I can really ride. I like returning to the same trails to work on skills, but I love seeing new places. I liked my 100 mm fork, but I love my 130 mm of extra squish that Santa brought for Christmas.
All of a sudden, I didn’t feel the need to scare myself silly on every ride. Rocks would always be fun, but I no longer felt like I had to make them my major focus in my little bike-riding universe. And there was something freeing about that.
The last time we went up to the Upper Loop on the 50-year trail, I had a bit of a melt-down. While I rode some cool stuff, I felt like I was in way over my head. Way over my head = I can’t ride my bike at all = I’m a bad person. Laugh, but you know we all do it.
We went back before Christmas for a quick spin around it with Reilly and Kimberly.
It’d been a good week of techy riding with several runs down Bugs, Prison, and Millie. I was riding better than ever before (who’d have thunk an extra 30 mm of suspension could do so much) and was hoping for a smoother run this time around.
As it turns out, once I take the pressure off myself to ride well, lo-and-behold, I ride well.
There’s got to be a lesson in there somewhere.
It was the most fun I’d had riding tech since…we’ll, since riding down Bugs/Prison/Millie the day prior.
Do I feel the need for a big bike so I can keep pushing my limits? Nah. But I probably wouldn’t kick one out of my bed for eating cookies.