For being pretty tired, I had one heck of a productive day yesterday! I had an excellent ride at Mt. Dora (more on that below), got a bunch of mini-projects at work done and I even managed to fix those broken pipes I mentioned in yesterday’s blog. Not surprisingly, I slept incredibly well last night. 🙂
So far this week I’ve ridden at the Mt. Dora MTB trails a couple of times. It’s amazing how far those trails have come since they first opened up. The trails are running really well right now, and they just keep getting better and better. I feel very fortunate to have these trails so close by, as there is some nice elevation change (for Florida), the trails flow nicely and there are lots and lots of well-constructed bermed corners. The trails are not just fun, they provide a nice place to practice various skills.
Cornering is something I’ve mentioned quite a few times in recent blogs, and that’s because lately I’ve been focused on improving my skills in that area.
Something I’ve always found helpful when it comes to improving a set of skills is to take video of myself performing that activity. For example, when I first started lifting weights I used to shoot video of myself doing lifts like squats and deadlifts so that I could evaluate my form and technique. It’s amazing how many mistakes are made, even when you think you’re doing everything right. Video helps uncover those mistakes, and makes you a better lifter/rider/whatever.
Even when I felt like I was railing the corners yesterday, after reviewing the footage I found that I was still making a number of mistakes. I’ve improved a lot over the past few weeks, so that is encouraging to see, but I have a long way to go before I’m hitting the corners the way I want to.
So why all the attention to cornering lately? Single track mountain biking trails twist and turn, and so corners are obviously everywhere. If you can’t corner properly you’ll not just lose tons of speed, you lose the flow of the trail. Flowing with a piece of single track (instead of merely riding over it) is a huge part of what makes mountain biking fun. Learning to flow takes a lot of practice, but it’s worth it. I only know this from small tastes, as I’m a long way from what I would consider a good mountain biker.
In Mastering Mountain Bike Skills (which I highly recommend), Lee McCormack writes:
1. You probably suck.
2. You suck more than you realize.
3. You suck because you’re too stiff and passive on the bike.
Sounds harsh, but I appreciate directness. Especially when the person being direct is absolutely right. One thing I’ve noticed in pretty much every piece of video I’ve ever shot of myself riding is I’m way too stiff. Even when I think I’m relaxed, I look tense and rigid compared to good riders. I’m getting better, but it’s still a problem. It’s natural to stiffen up when you’re flying around a corner because you know a wreck will really hurt (or worse). The trick is to get past that gut instinct and relax despite the danger.
Well heck, all this talk about mountain biking has me in the mood to ride again this morning. See ya! 🙂