How a squirrel taught me trail confidence

Guest post by Mark Bakker – Director of Growth at Ryan Leech Connection


It all started when I used /giphy squirrel on Slack. (Slack is an instant messaging service that Ryan and I use to chat with each other. It has a plugin called Giphy which displays a random GIF from your keyword.) Note: some foul language used.



On Mt. Fromme in North Vancouver there is a drop at the beginning of Floppy Bunny, and I struggled with it mentally for over 10 minutes. I walked down to the lip a few times to look at it, waited for people to go up the hill so no one would see me. I rode my bike down to see how it feels. I knew I could do it, but something was stopping me!


It’s that unknown mental wall, being afraid, butterflies, nervousness. I was asking myself “why do I feel like this?”, “I’ve done way harder drops”, “Am I going to hurt myself?”

Finally I just said fuck it and pushed all those feelings away – the butterflies turned into adrenalin – and I just did it. It was amazing! I was smiling and happy that I pushed through!

It’s a hard decision mentally. I knew I wasn’t being foolish because I had worked my way up to a stunt like this. But because this one was new, my emotions of fear of crashing and getting hurt were very real.


I think it’s important to have respect for yourself, your body and your mind, and the trail. If you just pushed through everything you wouldn’t learn from it, and you would probably end up hurting yourself. You need to know your limits of your bike, of your body, and of your mind.

I knew the bike could handle it, I knew I could do it, I just had to get over myself. This isn’t easy. Suppressing the voice in your head telling you “no” and letting go of your brakes and feeling the rush of air. Every millisecond your brain is telling you stop, and yet you just keep going.

Ryan then added: “Amazing how you can now hit that drop without that (or at least a lot less) mental struggle and effort, but that process was necessary because if you just had that that ‘fuck-it’ mentality, you’d have crashed out of the sport a long time ago!”

So here it is, after some serious thought I took the leap and channeled my inner squirrel!

By |2017-10-03T06:32:56+00:00May 3rd, 2016|Mental Fitness|4 Comments

About the Author:

  • Ed

    Agree 100%, and would add that riding in a group quickens the contemplation time and speeds up when the ‘fuck it mentality’ kicks in. For me, experience also hastens this process, as does being strong and injury-free.

    That said, it’s generally accepted among the people I ride with that if you look at a feature more than 3 times you’re doubting yourself too much, and you shouldn’t be hitting it.

    • Love that add Ed, really great points and clearly coming experience! From a spectators point of view, I often become very nervous when a riding friend is highly uncomfortable with a line but decides to go for it anyway!

  • Sid

    Have to note, the dog had no issues… Zen-like flow. As you all have mentioned, he probably assessed it once, knew his capabilities and went for it. Or he was chasing a squirrel – Focus. Nice ride!

    • Mark Bakker

      Thanks Sid! Yeah Kato just does it. No hesitation. Cheers!