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:
- 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: http://www.joyride150.com/
Ray’s MTB Indoor Park, Clevland, Ohio, USA: http://www.raysmtb.com/
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.
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 ===» http://youtu.be/zk4kpjeTFGA 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!