Written by Audrey Duval- Proofread and Edited by Kristie Sandquist
I love technical riding and the challenges that come along with it. You know the trails, filled with rocks and roots that make you get off your bike and walk, until one day, BOOM! It all just comes together, and you’re smiling because you know you’ve accomplished something new and have pushed yourself out of your comfort zone.
But what if it’s not just a matter of getting annoyed that you have to walk your bike or go around a feature? What if that technical trail feature strikes fear into your heart and makes you weak in the knees?
That exact scenario happened to me on a beautiful, warm, April morning in Golden, BC. My cross-country ride took me to a rock slab I was more than familiar with. A feature I had avoided time and time again. But not today. Today I was making it happen.
As I rolled up to “The Slab”, I had already decided it was happening. I had visualized a victory in my mind, and I could see myself at the bottom after nailing the line, jumping up and down in celebration of my success.
I knew I had this. I walked my bike back to my start point, put on my Bad Bitch song (everybody needs one of these), told myself one last time “I can do this”, and got on my bike.
I rolled towards that slab knowing I was going to make it. As I reached the edge, I took a deep breath and let go of the brakes.
I rolled down the slab, reminding myself to look ahead and find my safe point. I could hear the rock crunching under my tires as they found their grip. I felt confident, excited, and a little afraid all at the same time. It was over in an instant and I celebrated my success with a happy dance!
So how did I get past the fear I had felt so many times before and finally find the courage to try something so far out of my comfort zone? Well, most of the work was done off the trail, way before I even got on my bike.
Here are 6 key elements that helped me achieve my goal:
- Visualization: For two weeks before riding that rock slab, I would visualize the line in my head and saw myself celebrating my achievement once I completed it. I had to convince myself I could do it.
- Know Your Capability and Be Patient: Your comfort zone will expand the more you try different trails and features. Don’t push yourself beyond your capabilities just because you think you SHOULD be able to do something. Stay safe and test your limits bit by bit. Trust yourself. You’ll know when it’s time to try something new.
- Let Go of Expectations: If you’re constantly worried and expecting yourself to be able to ride a specific feature on a specific trail, you might forget to enjoy the rest of your time on your bike and appreciate all the other things you can do. Allow yourself to be present in the moment and remember to celebrate all the little victories, not just the big ones. The point is to have fun, not be worried the whole time you’re on your bike.
- Seek Professional Help: Sometimes you need a helping hand to get yourself out of a certain headspace. Books can give great advice and one I go back to all the time is called “Thinking Body, Dancing Mind: Taosports for Extraordinary Performance in Athletics, Business, and Life” by Chungliang Al Huang. I also found it really helpful to talk to a sport psychologist who guided me in unlocking the thoughts that were holding me back. I wasn’t able to do this on my own, and hiring a professional allowed me to reach a higher level of biking. Need more skill? Hire a bike coach. Need increased fitness? Hire a personal trainer. You’ll be amazed at the results.
- Find Your Safe Spot: This is one that can be done on the trail. Right before you send that technical trail feature, scope out your safe landing zone. Where will you end up once you’re finished? Where will you be able to look back and say “Yes! I did it!” Your safe spot is your finishing spot and don’t lose sight of it. Keep your eyes on the prize and let your body do the work.
- Celebrate: This is a really important one. Allow yourself to feel excited and accomplished that you just achieved your goal. Let out a little yell, run around, whatever you feel like doing! Remember those feelings for the next challenge you give yourself and you will always have something to look forward to.
I nailed that rock slab and you better believe I did a happy dance once I got to the bottom. Nothing compares to the feeling of facing your fears and accomplishing a goal you have prepared so long for.
Now get out there and set your goals and achieve them! And don’t forget to do a little happy dance once you do.
Have a story about conquering your fears? I would love to hear it! Leave your comments below or send me an email!