Guest Post by Curriculum Expert & Ambassador Jeffrey Neitlich
From the Ryan Leech Connection Mtn Bike Skill Coaching Website
I have spent the last few months working on a variety of skills/challenges: manuals, bunnyhops, balance, technical climbing, etc. Because of this, I haven’t actually tried to wheelie in quite a while.
This morning, I decided to go to my local supermarket parking lot, and reacquaint myself with this skill. I started out with the basics– 1 stroke, 2 stroke, 3 stroke brake– no problem. Then I tried to hold a wheelie, having completed the 30 Day Wheelie Challenge (twice) over a year ago. Yikes! I fell to the right, I fell to the left, I came close to looping out. I was low in the float zone, I had trouble getting beyond 5 or 6 strokes. I got FRUSTRATED, and thought– I forgot this skill that I had worked so hard to achieve!
Luckily, I had my iPhone in the car. I pulled up the Ryan Leech Connection website, and went straight to one of my favorite lessons in the challenge: Day 16, future visualization and practice, and watched Ryan almost effortlessly glide along, his subtle yet powerful movements controlling his bike. Next, I closed my eyes, and I replaced the image of Ryan with the image of myself, floating along, body naturally making corrections and staying in balance, unafraid of falling, having fun. I ‘felt’ what it is like to be in the float zone.
After about 5 minutes of this, I got back on my bike. Checked my seat height, gear choice, brake position, etc. Instead of trying to apply specific skills, I just rolled for a moment with that movie playing in my head, leaned forward, and popped into a wheelie. Ten yards went by, then twenty, then thirty, and so on. I felt my hips and knees moving side to side, my handlebars making subtle corrections, without me thinking about them or how to do it. I just let my mind and my body take over.
For anyone in the group that has ‘skipped’ over the sections on visualization that Ryan has embedded into these courses, I encourage you NOT TO! Your mind, your senses and your body are amazing tools– use them! Skills/drills/practice are all critical to developing the skills to do a variety of techniques, but in the end, you will find your best efforts come when you just trust in yourself that your body will be able to synthesize all of your practice efforts, and just takeover.
When I was done, I got back into my car and looked in the rearview mirror. Staring back at me was my ‘wheelie smile.’ Glad I found it again!
Jeffrey Neitlich (*words borrowed from a post within the private Facebook Group for members of Ryan Leech Connection)