When the trail pushes my limits, I’ll
quickly try to visualize the line in my
head and focus on calming my mind
and keeping the wheels rolling. It often
comes down to relying on experience
and instinct, but if I really can’t see a
line or visualize how I’ll ride a section,
I’ll stop and take a look at it. If I can’t
visualize the line in my head, I don’t
ride it. Extending your limits and skills
has to happen gradually, but is certainly one of the most gratifying parts
of the sport.
If I get a little rattled or I’m having
an off day, I’ll just dial it down to a
comfortable level and then build the
speed and confidence back up. A little
bit like when I used to shoot hoops a
lot; start close to the basket, where I
know I can sink some balls, and then
slowly work my way out to shooting
Proper tire pressure and suspension
setup are essential if I want to be comfortable and focused on my bike. I don’t
want any distractions, so I always like
to check and know these are set before
hitting the trail.
When I really get into difficult terrain, I try not to think about how
challenging the terrain is but instead
focus on being creative in how I ride a
section. Holding on for dear life down
the gut of a line often gets me (and others) in trouble, but if I can relax and
look for a new entrance and exit, a lot
of times I am able to pay more attention to what I am riding and how to get
through a line.
I’m always trying to mix it up with
my riding and training, so linking new
sections of trail or riding a line I’ve hit
dozens of times in a new way helps
a lot. Practicing new skills on a well-ridden part of trail helps me get it back
together if I’m having an off day.
I try to avoid superstitions and rituals the best I can, other than getting
plenty of coffee in me on race day.
Sometimes you’re going to show up to
a ride and not have time to address a
particular ritual or whatever, and that’s
going to throw you off and get into
your psyche. Then it’s impossible to
focus on what is actually important—
riding your bike.