Overcoming Obstacles: On and Off The Trail

mountain bike tips, mountain bike obstacles, Mountain bike inspiration
October 17th, 2016

Today's Guest post is from Susan Thompson a mountain biker and occupational therapist, learn more at  www.handylearning.com


Obstacles on the trail are lurking mute fixtures, vying for our attention. They seem like gnarly monsters with jagged teeth and protruding elbows, hungry to knock us down and scrape off some skin. It is easy to focus on them because they have so much potential to harm us. Those nasty obstacles-a-plenty draw us in. If we are blazing down the trail and notice that robust tree ahead, guess what? We hit the tree. If we concentrate on that large, loose rock right in the middle of the trail, BANG—off we go flying into the air. We have just proven the power of focus.


Like a metal to a magnet, we are drawn towards what we focus on.


How do we protect ourselves? By keeping our eyes off the obstacles and on our line. Instead of looking at the obstacles, we look beyond them. We look through the trees, around the rocks and over the roots and sand. By focusing on where we want to go instead of what we want to avoid, we disempower the obstacles and empower the good line. With practice, this becomes second nature. Hopefully, we will get to the point where our riding buddy says, “Hey, dude, did you see that nasty looking rock back there? It almost ate my lunch!” And we say, in all honesty, “What rock?”


the more we focus on obstacles, the more power they have over us.

the story of the rocky climb...

I was riding with a group of gals and as we approached a portion of the trail I had ridden many times in the past, one gal started talking about an upcoming climb. She elaborated about her difficulties conquering this hill. All the while, I was wondering,  "What hill?", but deep down I began getting nervous about this ominous hill and my ability to overcome it. Her discussion led to a thorough analysis of the climb, with graphic details about the impending rocks, roots and trees.


As you can probably guess, when we approached the hill and she said, "Here it is!", I bombed. What I had once climbed without a single thought,  was now perceived as an insurmountable obstacle.


Ahhhhh, the power of the mind.


don't focus on the obstacles... in life.

Human nature intercedes once again –our overriding tendency is to focus on the obstacles. We are quick to mention the things that are not working well in our lives; to talk about the one person that is giving us a hard time, or mention the part (or parts) of our day that was lousy. Rarely are the first thoughts that brim to the top the ones that celebrate something extraordinary--the kind word someone said today, the brief, but stunning view we caught a glimpse of on our way to work, the hug that someone gave us “just because.”


Our short term memory seems to be wired for remembering the difficulties and obstacles in our day. But if the theory is true: what you focus on grows, then we are only feeding and growing obstacles!


People who have a high degree of success report that they either ignored or did not give any credence to potential barriers to success. They simply decided what they wanted to do, set out a plan and went to work. If they discovered an obstacle, they figured out a way around it. Their success hinged on seeing where they wanted to go instead of what was in the way.


If we observe and contemplate obstacles then we give them more authority in our lives. If we purposely reduce or divert our attention away from the obstacles, we diminish their power over us. Our perception of our path changes. We see the line more clearly. Focus on the obstacles and they grow. Focus on the goal or the path and it grows. It is your choice.


Control what you focus on.


1. what we focus on grows.

2. don't focus on the obstacles.

3. look through or past obstacles.

4. concentrate on the line (where you want to go).


About the Author: Susan is an occupational therapist and has been mountain biking for over 20 years (she started when she was 5 ;-). While riding the trails, she had ideas on how mountain biking parallels life. In 2012 she quit her job so she could write a book and put her ideas into publication. To order her book go to her website: www.handylearning.com. Or email Susan at: susanotr@hotmail.com

The Art of Living is a book which relates effective life skill habits to the simplicity of skillful mountain biking.