First of all, a rider needs to have the skill.
Pure willpower alone will not get one too far.
That being said, the mind is very powerful and
often makes the difference between making
something or not. Closely connected are other
factors, such as confidence (if you know you
can do it) and fitness (if you are not physically
at your limits, you have a better chance of
focusing and concentrating to avoid mistakes).
I have always said and practiced when riding
a sketchy, dangerous or challenging section to
focus on your ideal line. Focus on what you
want to do, not what you don’t want to do. If
you ride alongside an exposed cliff, focus on
the trail and line you want to ride and stay on.
If you keep looking to the exposed area, sooner
or later you will end up there.
This brings us to the next subject to be able
to deal with stressful and dangerous situations:
fear management. You can get used to it, but
that requires that you have done your homework and know the basics of riding. It has
nothing to do with being courageous, brave or
taking uncalculated risks. Make a mental note,
and remind yourself, like when you are riding
next to that cliff, should you get into trouble,
have to dab or fall, then do it on the non-cliff
side. I used to train riding along the side of a
curb, imagining the drop was very high, trying
to make myself accustomed to riding under
stressful situations. Focusing on your ideal line
also includes not getting distracted by thoughts
of what people think, say or may do to distract
you. Just be in the moment and forget everything else.
When I don’t ride to my full potential, I
have learned that I need to step my game up
and put myself in a certain state of mind. I
know from experience there is another level
I can ride on, which I haven’t reached when
I feel I have an off day. That being said, you
need to know your limits. Just because you
have made a certain trail section or move
before doesn’t mean you can automatically do
it again. If I “don’t feel it,” I sometimes get off
my bike and walk a section that I have previously ridden. Other times, I step up my game,
focus and go for it. Nothing builds your confidence more than pulling off a hard line, but
you gotta be committed. You can’t try it or do
it half-heartedly. ❏