On certain days, even when you’ve woken up early or made extensive arrangements to go for a ride, a feeling breaks through what makes sense and you become aware that you will not enjoy the trail very much. While it is naturally possible that you’ve just misinterpreted the signal — wires between the mind and the body are always at least somewhat crossed — and you will end up surprising yourself once you get rolling, it’s important to know when it’s really there; a good ride depends on a solid connection to yourself and to the trail, and if that isn’t going to happen, the next-best thing you can do is to enjoy a good non-ride.
Some great pre-ride inspiration before the weekend, brought to you straight from some great riders on Whistler Mountain.
A beautiful and important lesson equally applicable to clearing trail features on a bike: Mindful failure is perhaps the best way of understanding why success looks the way it does.
- Wake up at / before dawn in the tent you set up in your backyard the night before
- Load your bike and gear onto / into the most fun car you have
- Grab coffee at the best place nearby, enjoy the whole cup with breakfast on the patio outside (optional: plan the day’s route)
- Drive only on backroads all the way to a local trailhead with windows down, playing preloaded road tunes
- Ride all day, getting lost, stopping everywhere cool
- Eat lunch and take a nap on top of something tall and in the sun
- Roll back into the trailhead at twilight
- Pick up cold beers and ice en route home
- Get a tall fire going in the fire pit next to your tent and camping chairs
- Throw meat on the grill over the coals, drink beers while flipping and eating
- Stare at fire until the day’s weight in your legs and arms and face weigh you down to sleep
“Achieving flow depends on more than just the mastery of technique. The delicate balance where ability meets challenge requires many factors to be in perfect alignment… Everything feels smooth, regardless of trail technicality, sometimes it even feels slow and its only a Strava sanity check that confirms you are riding fast. You are in the zone.”Continue Reading
Watching and riding with guys like these is about a lot more than learning which way to turn at each intersection; their confidence will inspire you to loosen up a little more through each section, to see and try new lines, and in so doing connect you — even just for a moment — with a trail’s natural Flow.
It takes real passion to create something, especially in the face of adversity. As communities of trail builders form around visionaries like Lorien and Mike, a collective confidence forms as well, and that’s when great things happen.
Mountain biking is exciting for 3 primary reasons:
- The amount and variety of landscape and nature one can experience in a single ride is unmatched by any other sport.
- The sensation of speed through the trees and grass and fresh air as they form a tunnel around you and the blur of dirt beneath your bike.
- Virtually constant surprise at what your body and skills make you capable of riding over and through.
It can change very quickly, when the whole forest becomes a single shade of green-brown under an imminent thunderstorm, or very gradually, as the sun progresses across the sky through a full day of riding.
Every once in awhile, on certain rides and in certain states of mind, it’s possible to feel like you’re watching yourself turn in as much amazing detail as this, and time slows down to meet the oddly patient desire to take it all in, and the only memory you have of it all is a residual sense of wonder and the need to witness something like it again.