Unfreezing the mind …

I’m probably thinking about this too much but it fascinates me!

The fact that your mind controls your body is one of those obvious things that, perhaps, we don’t acknowledge unless faced with a challenge. In mountain biking it can have an enormous effect on how you approach those challenges and try to overcome them.

A little while ago, I was riding on a very enclosed, tight twisty trail surrounded by rhododendron bushes and trees.

I had ridden here once before very shortly after I started riding MTB and at that time the trails were way above my comfort zone. Like yesterday, the trail surface was wet and slippery. Strangely, all those earlier concerns from my previous visit leapt to the surface and my skill set vanished – weird! 🥴

So, there I was in the middle of the trail facing a 12 foot roll down (which I have done many times before in different circumstances) and I froze – yes, froze. I had no way back and seemingly no way forward. I stood there, anxious and trying to formulate a plan to get me out of the situation but nothing came to mind.🥺

A helicopter lift was out of the question but would have been very welcome! 😂

After overcoming that initial panic, I began to think more rationally so I could plan my line down the roll-down which helped me focus more and, of course, successfully move forward.

Reflecting on that situation I discovered that the initial cause to my frozen state was the lack of vision of the trail ahead which was blocked by a bank in the turn and the vegetation. When I know what to expect I’m more confident of using my skills to overcome the challenges of the trail. Basically, I can’t just ride the bike and hope that I can react and overcome what’s coming up.

I suspect it’s partly to do with confidence in my skills and my bike. My bike can easily handle whatever the trail presents so it’s all down to me. Which begs the thought that whatever your skill level from beginner to expert, there will be those moments when confidence is at a low and you need to be prepared and have strategies to bring your confidence to an appropriate level for your riding.

How do you control your mind to help you overcome trail features and experiences with confidence?

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Jez Meades aka. RadGrandad has been riding bikes for more than 25 years. From time-trialling to racing cyclosportives in Europe to just having fun on an MTB. A British Cycling Level 2 Cycling Coach happy to share his knowledge and experience.