I was watching Chris Akirgg's new video, A Hill in Spain, on STW the other day. Typically for him, it is not only great riding but really well edited and shot. I'm pretty sure he does a lot of that himself. A couple days later i went for a bike ride with Jimbo, who is in town on Genuine Innovations business. The trails we were on were good: rocky, slabby and tacky. Obviously, there were times when we didn't clear a trail feature: sometimes we didnt even try. So the talk turned to those who can - from persistent locals to those who are just natural born riders.
If you havent seen the latest Akrigg video, here it is...
Of course, natural talent is one thing, but there is also practice and skill learning. Just recently for example i have been employing 'third eye' steering on tight switchbacks, and also counter steering on most flowing trails. It has been really interesting to pick up some new riding skills after 22 years of being on a mountain bike. One of the better ways to upgrade your bike riding is to spend money on a skills course, such as Great Rock's varied courses run by Ed Oxley.
On reflection, my riding is often quite limited: i would like to attempt (and clear!) more than i do. Picking up skills and practicing them on the trail is one thing, but belief is another.
Something that resonated for me in Akrigg's video is his belief. He isn't alone in this, the Macaskills, Peats, Craigs and Vouillozs of the world also have a very strong belief in their abilities. When they try to ride something it is wholeheartedly. If i dont believe i will clear an obstacle, i probably wont.
That needs to change.
Course, immediately after having this conversation on the trail i tried to drop into a slightly dicey, rooty, rocky chute and whacked my right shoulder and knuckles on a tree as i *just* made the left hander at the bottom. The blood stained my right glove similarly to the ripped and dripping wound on the knuckles of my left hand, sustained earlier in the ride when i apexed a corner a little too close. Hmmmm. Still some way to go then?