One of the hardest parts of learning to ride a mountain bike is how to make good decisions on the trail in the heat of the moment. A lot of wrecks are caused by bad decisions about speed and line choice and bad decisions can also lead to you working harder than needed

So how do you acquire the skill of good decision making on the trail?

The best place to start is with the decision making process and the best model for this that I have found is the OODA Loop. OODA Loop was developed by Lt. Colonel John Boyd to explain where good ideas came from, particularly in the heat of the moment.

Below is a video where I go into the OODA Loop and what it means for you as a mountain biker. The show notes are below and you‌ ‌can‌ also ‌find‌ ‌the audio replay ‌on‌ ‌‌Itunes‌,‌‌ ‌Podbean‌,‌‌ ‌‌Spotify‌‌ ‌‌and‌ ‌all‌ ‌other‌ ‌major‌ ‌podcasting‌ ‌platforms.‌ ‌

Click Here To Download The MP3 File

The OODA Loop consists of 4 parts, with each part flowing into the next while also informing the previous stages as well. 

Observe: You observe what is going on through your own observations and other information coming from outside sources. Example: You see what is coming up on the trail/ You have someone tell you about what is coming up.

Orient: You orient yourself to the situation based on the information you have at hand, your past experience and even your genetics.

Decide: Based on your Orientation to the situation you make a decision about the best course of action.

Act: You take action based on your Decision. 

The Orientation process is the generally most important part of The Loop. The more you are able to bring to the Orientation process the better Decisions and Actions you can take.

To improve your Orientation process you can gain more experience through more riding, training camps/ clinics, reading books, watching videos and thinking about the problems you are facing.

This is one of the reasons that new riders struggle with their Decisions on the trail – they simply don’t have the resources for their Orientation process. New riders need to be able to ride, make mistakes and learn from those mistakes.Instead, well meaning riders tend to over-coach and over-recommend technology to make up for what is simply a lack of experience. 

Another thing to take from this is that the faster you can go through the Loop the faster you can act. Being able to make decisions faster can make up for a lack of speed and power.

Visualization can also help with the Action part of the Loop. Once you have Decided on an action, you can see yourself doing that action successfully.  This will help you be able to Act faster through familiarity of the action through visualization.

You also can’t get through the OODA Loop if you are stuck in the Fear Loop. You have to deal with your fear and make a decision to act before you can start to move through the OODA Loop.

Controlling your breathing is one of the best ways to help you move through the Fear Loop and into the OODA Loop.

Knowing where you get stuck can help you identify what you need to work on to improve your decision making on the trail.

Fear Loop: Change your relationship with fear to move out of it and into the OODA Loop.

Observe: Learn to pay better attention and to use your peripheral vision.

Orient: Get the experience you need to improve the information you have to draw on.

Decide: Visualization to try out different ideas.

Act: Visualization to see yourself performing the idea you decided to act on.

Your best asset on the trail is your brain and its ability to run through the OODA Loop faster and more effectively. Hopefully this information can help you ride with more confidence and flow.

Until next time…

Ride Strong,

James Wilson

MTB Strength Training Systems

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