The world is a complicated place. The seemingly endless amounts of mind scrambling variables in everyday life is now seemingly trickling into Mountain Biking. You might be thinking "what do you mean?", well let me explain and apologies in advance if this goes into rant mode!
I remember the old saying don't run before you can walk. This is a great example of building up to a goal step by step instead of jumping in at the deep end, not getting the instantaneous result you wanted, feeling discouraged and giving up. All too often I'm seeing mountain bikers of various abilities getting themselves into a muddle because they are trying to do things currently outside of their ability level because they have a lack of basic knowledge and understanding of their bikes and current skill level.
As with any sport or activity, everyone has an ultimate goal. I like to establish with all of my riders and athletes, what their ultimate goals are and then set them smaller process goals along the way.
As an example, I often see riders trying to land a 6 foot drop off before they can confidently lift their front wheel over a plastic cone or distribute their weight correctly to cope with the change of terrain. They have focused on the ultimate goal at the expense of achieving the smaller process goals along the way. If landing drops is your ultimate goal, your process goals might be:
* Be confident moving your bodyweight backwards and forwards on the bike on various terrain
* When you are confident with your bodyweight distribution, learn how to lift your front wheel over an obstacle, then the rear wheel and ultimately learn a bunny hop
* When you are confident with that, apply the techniques to a small drop and focus on using the correct technique
* As your confidence grows, build up to bigger drops, while maintaining correct technique
I really believe that spending time learning fundamental skills will create a much more confident and skilled rider. Building a solid foundation of fundamental skills really will pay dividends as you evolve as a rider.
Don't fall into the trap of peer pressure either. It's very easy to get dragged into the bravado of the trail centre car park and attempt a skill that deep down you know you can't do. Usually, when you've got home from a&e, you will reflect and wonder why you couldn't do the technique in question. Well, put simply, did you actually spend time practicing it, or did you just try and wing it by doing what you thought looked roughly about right on a youtube video? Expectation and reality don't always match up unfortunately!
It's great to have an ultimate goal and you will achieve it. The main thing to remember is that it won't happen overnight and that sometimes, it's better to swallow your pride, deflate your ego, take a step back from where you think you are skill wise and accept where you actually are. This will immediately remove a good amount of pressure because you won't feel like you're in competition with anyone else, you will instead be building up to your ultimate goal progressively and growing in confidence when you reach each of your process goals along the way. Yes there will still be frustrating times, but by trusting in the process, you will come through it a better rider.
Be realistic and build up your skills progressively. You'll find that it gives you even more joy on the trails, trust me.