Training, Nutrition, and Health


September 20, 2014

Have You Hit a Plateau?

Hit­ting a plateau in moun­tain bike skill devel­op­ment is a hard real­i­ty to face, although it hap­pens to the best of us.  Flat­ten­ing out after a major learn­ing curve of dial­ing in and mas­ter­ing new skills is com­mon.  Embrace the plateau!   Know anoth­er learn­ing curve is en route, whether that be next week, next month or next decade — it is com­ing!  After 4 years of some seri­ous road sad­dle time (and a 4 year moun­tain bik­ing plateau), I hit the dirt with strong legs and a fresh mind­set this Spring and have not looked back. 

4 actions to spike the dreaded flatline: 

1. Play Like a Kid! 

I heard a fel­low female rid­er refer to bike parks as “kids parks”.  Au con­traire!  Mas­sive skill devel­op­ment and pro­gres­sion can occur with­in 4 walls.  Per­fect for a mid-win­ter pick-me-up, indoor bike parks boast fea­tures like: 

  • Skin­nies
  • Foam Pits to Land Big Air (you may actu­al­ly nev­er take!) 
  • Rhythms & Jump Lines 
  • Pump Tracks 
  • Quar­ter Pipes, Spines, Drop-ins and Bowls

All of these fea­tures — and body move­ments required to con­quer these fea­tures — can be found on your local trail, although like­ly made out of dirt and wood oppose to con­crete and resi.  The abil­i­ty to hit a fea­ture over and over and over and over again, is where the pro­gres­sion will real­ly start hap­pen­ing.   Here are two of our favourite indoor bike parks:  
Joyride 150, Markham, Ontario Cana­da:
Ray’s MTB Indoor Park, Clev­land, Ohio, USA:

2. Hire a Coach 

A cer­ti­fied cycling coach is trained to bet­ter com­pet­ing ath­letes, and often have insight into not only what you are doing on the bike, but what you are doing off the bike and how it is effect­ing your skill devel­op­ment.  Some of the best advice I have received from a coach had noth­ing to do with my on-bike per­for­mance and every­thing to do with off-the-bike habits that were direct­ly effect­ing my rid­ing.   3. Chit Chat Grab your best rid­ing bud­dy and ride for fun, with zero expec­ta­tions.  Leave the heart rate mon­i­tor at home and Stra­va set to off.  Debrief your work day, share sto­ries about your kids, or plan your next din­ner par­ty.  By rid­ing for plea­sure more often you will asso­ciate rid­ing with fun, and not a tax­ing chore you get roughed up on every time you head out. 

4. Travel 

We all have our local trail sys­tem that we are super com­fort­able in.  The ter­rain, the weath­er, the foliage, the insects and wildlife, the peo­ple — all aspects of rid­ing that once com­fort­able in, assist with the dread­ed plateau.  The hard packed dirt sin­gle­track, tight trees, roots and rocks of South­ern Ontario Cana­da, pos­es chal­lenge for the locals of places like Utah, boast­ing wide open slick­rock, with drops, steeps and breath­tak­ing vis­tas some would refer to as expo­sure.  Types of ter­rain in our world are vast, and ready to be explored by moun­tain bike. 

CHECK OUT THIS SHORT VIDEO OF ME “play­ing like a kid” at JOYRIDE150 ===» Plateaus may be inevitable, but snap­ping out of them does­n’t have to be!  What tac­tics do you use to snap out of your plateaus?  Leave your com­ments below, I would love to hear from you!