4 Life Lessons From Mountain Bike Racing

lifelessonsmtbNearly two years ago I did my very first mountain bike race ever. It was a 50-mile race at high altitude and in some very nasty terrain. I knew I was strong enough and fit enough to race but I also knew the course was very challenging and that worried me.

So, I did what I always do… I bought a book about mountain bike racing the night before the race and read it. I probably would have done just fine without reading the book but it helped to boost my confidence and calm some fears.

Between reading, training, and actually racing events, there are 4 life lessons from mountain bike racing that I learned which you can apply every day if needed.

  1. Get into attack position. – When you are riding down a nasty trail and it gets rough, don’t lean back just holding onto the brakes and allow yourself to get bounced around everywhere. Get into attack position! Stand on the pedals, lean a bit forward; get your butt out of the saddle! The same goes for in life when a patch gets tough, you stand up, apply power, and lean into it.
  2. Stand your ground. – When you are in the attack position, you have to both physically and mentally place all the weight from your body into your feet and on the pedals by thinking “heavy feet.” Doing this will not only keep you firmly planted on the pedals, but will also go along ways in making sure the bike stays firmly on the ground as well. Think “heavy feet” the next time you are challenged and you do not want to back down. Visualize your weight transferred to your feet anchoring you to the earth as you stand your ground.
  3. Relax! – Just as it is important to have heavy feet to keep the bike on the ground, having “light hands” is critical for effective bike control, steering, and not wrecking. You don’t grip the hand grips or the brakes with a grip of death because that will only invite disaster. You must relax and hold onto the handlebars with the lightest grip possible. Don’t use all of your fingers to mash the brakes either, only one or two… think delicate. But in order to be light handed when it comes to the bars and the brakes you must relax – breathe and relax. The same applies to life. When you face a challenge relaxed you are calm, more centered, but also more flexible to change directions if needed. If you tense up and freeze… you are going to wreck in either situation.
  4. SMILE! – This was the biggest lesson that I learned and probably the number one thing that got me through my first mountain bike race and all of the other since. SMILE! I bet I looked goofy out there grinning from ear to ear but smiling helped me so much. Feel like you are going to fast and starting to get scared? Smile… Coming into the curve and not sure if you can make it through without wrecking? Smile… Smiling instantly provided relief from just about every stressful situation out there that I could be facing in a race and the same applies to life. Smile whenever you can, even if you are not quite happy in the moment it will help. And to be honest, I believe that the more you smile the happier you are, not the other way around.

The next time life gets out of hand or challenging, imagine yourself on a mountain bike and remember these four tips. Try these out in your daily life and even more so if you can get out on a ride yourself because nothing makes a rough day better than getting in a good bike ride!

Andy Wooten M.A. Counseling – Certified Life Coach – Aspen, Colorado

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