This is a guest post by Bryan Weller of The Bryan Project.
About a year and a half ago, a co-worker and friend introduced me to mountain biking. I’ve been hooked ever since.
There is an exhilarating feeling whistling through nature on a well-tuned bike. Your blood gets pumping and your mind quickly focuses on the ride, letting go of all the stress and problems you face in your life. On top of that, many trails feature majestic views of the outdoors that can’t help but inspire you.
Mountain biking has been very good to me. It was a catalyst that pushed me to living a healthier lifestyle, losing weight and becoming a new me. I highly recommend it to anyone looking for adventure and exercise.
In addition, I’ve had many opportunities to pay it forward by introducing others to the sport. When I bring out a new rider for their first time on the bike, I like to start them out with some of the basic lessons every biker should know.
These are the four core principles that are the foundation for the more technical skills you master as you gain experience on the trails.
Always Be Prepared
By its very nature, mountain biking is a sport typically practiced away from civilization. It’s a general rule of thumb that the more epic the ride, the farther from help you’re going to be.
Experienced riders understand there are going to be bumps in the road, both literally and figuratively. These riders learn quickly that it pays to plan ahead and be self-sufficient. Besides safety equipment, like gloves and your helmet, seasoned mountain bikers tend to carry an extra tube, a patch kit, a mini-pump and plenty of hydration.
For multi-day adventures many people will bring an array of repair tools, first aid kits and necessary snacks in the car to get them through possible malfunctions. It’s amazing how efficient riders get a packing all this stuff.
It also pays to be prepared in everyday life. Do you keep an emergency kit in your car in case it breaks down? No matter what you’re doing, the people who manage to plan for possible contingencies are going to recover faster and more successfully from inevitable trouble.
Play Well With Others
I sometimes ride alone, but only under optimal weather conditions and on trails I know like the back of my hand. There is a saying that goes, “There are two types of mountain bikers, those that have fallen and those that will.”
Most of the time, when you go down, it’s just a matter of dusting yourself off and getting back on the bike. Sometimes, the wreck could be more serious.
It’s always a good idea to have someone else along for the ride that can help in case of an emergency. Besides, the ride will always be more fun with someone you like hanging out with to push you and keep things loose.
Keeping plenty of good people around you in your life is also a very good idea. No person is an island upon themselves. You will be more successful and have more fun working with others towards your goals.
Fully Commit or Get Off the Bike
Any good mountain biking trail will be chock full of obstacles along the way. There will be roots, stumps, rocks, bridges, ramps, dips, curves, hills, water crossings, jumps and more. The fastest way to get injured on a mountain bike is to attempt an obstacle half way.
Obstacles slow you down. They’re momentum killers. The worst thing that can happen is to get into the middle of one and lose all your speed. Now you’ve stopped and you generally have no easy place to put your foot down. This means you’re falling. Sometimes falling a good distance into something very hard.
When approaching an obstacle, you need to determine how much speed is necessary to make it and attack the obstacle at that speed or get off the bike and walk around it. There is no shame in walking around if you know you can’t handle something, but indecision will hurt you.
When attacking a new project or job in life, it’s also a good idea to attack it full speed or you will lose momentum and quit. Either do it or don’t do it.
Keep Your Eyes Focused Ahead
A classic mistake with new riders is to look at the ground directly in front of their front tire. This is actually extremely dangerous. What a rider wants to do is focus 20 to 30 yards ahead. At the speed you are generally going on the bike, terrain comes up on you fast and if you don’t see it until it’s right in front of your tire, you simply do not have time to react.
The best move is to always be looking far enough ahead that you can see what’s coming with all the time necessary to plan the optimal line to ride.
If you want to succeed in life, it’s a good idea to always be looking forward, always planning the next step. Looking both backward and forward with an annual plan like Jonathan Fields is a key habits of successful people.
I hope these tips are enough to get you to venture out into the great outdoors and ride. I’ve never had anyone go riding with me and tell me they didn’t love it. I’m certain you’ll feel the same.
What types of activities do you do for fun that also teach you life improving habits?