Over the last year or so I have been actively trying to improve my mountain biking skills, mainly so that I can have more fun on the trails, but also because I want to kick other peoples arses on Strava and in races.
Improving in anything takes a degree of self reflection. For example taking a step back and thinking about your strengths and weaknesses and then actively considering, what can I improve.
For a lot of people, when they start something new, there is a steep (but necessary) learning curve, followed by a long plateau as they find their comfort zone and stay there.
Personally, I like to be continuously out of my comfort zone and that’s what drives me to become better. As I accomplish one thing I look for the next harder challenge.
(Incidentally this is probably what drives people to make and ride pirate trails i.e. because they run out of challenges or the ones they want don’t exist and so they build new ones).
So how am I doing and has self reflection worked?
Last year I could barely jump off a curb and now I am hitting one metre drops, gapping obstacles (albeit very baby ones), and riding down stuff I can’t even walk up.
I’m not quite doing backflips over 72ft canyon gaps, but it’s getting there and i’m still improving week to week.
How have I done it?
First, I often just ride a track and have in the back of my mind, what am I doing good and what could I do better?
Second, when I know what skills I want to improve I go back to the basics, look at the tutorials on You Tube or where ever and go study.
Third, I go back to the trails and try to implement what I’ve learn’t, often walking bits of trail to work out where the best lines are (trust me the best riders do it!)
Lastly, I always set myself goals that I want to achieve. Not big goals but achievable goals. Once I achieve those goals I look for the next, bigger challenge and start the cycle all over again.
This year, I want to master the gap jump and I there’s one that’s at least two metres long that I have my eye on.
But wait there’s more…
Self reflection is all very well, but often it’s someone else’s reflection that you need! So in the new year i’m going to get myself booked in on a local skills course and see where they think I need to improve.
Last, but not least, I have a no fail rule, which means if i’m likely to kill myself I wont do it.