I think a lot about riding and training. Not just on the trail stuff but the mindset of different riders and how that influences their view of mountain biking. I’ve realized that there are a couple of different mindsets that define different riders.

For example, whose fault is it when something is going wrong on the trail? If you can not clean a certain climb, keep up with certain riders or navigate a particular downhill section who do you blame – yourself or your bike?

In talking with some of my friends I’ve realized that a lot of riders tend to blame their bike. Their bike isn’t light enough, the suspension isn’t plush enough, their wheels have too much rotational weight and on and on it goes.

I have a couple of friends fall into this category. One of them rides what many would consider to be the ultimate trail bike – a Santa Cruz Nomad with a Fox 36 fork, DT Swiss 1750 wheels, Avid Code brakes and top or near the top of the line components. Yet every time he feels that he is being held back on the trail it seems to be the bike’s fault. He is now considering selling it so that he can try another bike because the VPP suspension seems to be the problem.

A couple of other friend have found their trail skills deteriorating and have been on a quest for the bike that will fix the problem. You know what else these guys have in common? None of them train.

The problem is that this is a fool’s quest. Your bike isn’t the problem, the rider piloting the bike is.

We tend to think that everyone views riding like we do so this was kind of a shock when I realized this. I look at what I am doing wrong or lacking and devise a plan to fix it. This strategy has taken a guy who was one of the last one’s up a climb and who wrecked jumping off a curb and taken him to the point that he can crush climbs and send 40 foot gaps.

I’m also doing it on a bike I bought in 2003. Yeah, I’ve bought some new stuff to hang on it over the years but I don’t obsess over every part on my bike and spend thousands of dollars to shed a few pounds.

The point is this – if you want to ride better stop blaming your equipment and start looking at the real reason you are not where you want to be as a rider. Stop making excuses about why you can not train and get you butt in the gym and start learning how to move better and get stronger.

You can have more fun on the trail but only if you stop falling for the marketing hype that tries to convince you that a 2 degree change in your head tube angle or a new shim stack in a fork is what separates you from your goals as a rider.

If you are one of the riders who recognize this then we owe it to the rest of the mountain bike community to help spread the word. We are the voice of the revolution and the message is simple – we control our destiny as riders, not what bike we can afford. 

Every day is a chance to do something that will make you a better rider…

4 thoughts on “Who do you blame?

  1. Janno says:

    Thanks James. So, challenge accepted and I tried out all 3 exercises on my living room floor:)
    1) The rolling was definitely the most difficult one- I couldn’t do a single one. I’m 184cm tall, 91kg, in a good shape, and regularly practicing stretching and strength training. Doing bridges and different bodyweight exercises is usually not a problem for me, but with this exercise even slight help with leg didn’t work. Is it sure that everybody should be able to do them, despite the body types and proportsions? If so, then I have a big cap to fill:)
    2) Crawling, on the opposite, seemed too easy. I even started to doubt if I missed some important point here. Doing a bird-dog is an easy exercise for me in general- when I do, I do it with the same side hand and foot. On which aspects I should focus on this exercise?
    3) Squat sequence required littlebit learning- it was doable, with couple of places which didn’t come out very well due to mobility restrictions, and this is something I plan to practice also in future. Interestingly, the most difficult move for me was switching the legs from one side to another, while sitting.

  2. Janno says:

    Thanks James. So, challenge accepted and I tried out all 3 exercises on my living room floor:)
    1) The rolling was definitely the most difficult one- I couldn’t do a single one. I’m 184cm tall, 91kg, in a good shape, and regularly practicing stretching and strength training. Doing bridges and different bodyweight exercises is usually not a problem for me, but with this exercise even slight help with leg didn’t work. Is it sure that everybody should be able to do them, despite the body types and proportsions? If so, then I have a big cap to fill:)
    2) Crawling, on the opposite, seemed too easy. I even started to doubt if I missed some important point here. Doing a bird-dog is an easy exercise for me in general- when I do, I do it with the same side hand and foot. On which aspects I should focus on this exercise?
    3) Squat sequence required littlebit learning- it was doable, with couple of places which didn’t come out very well due to mobility restrictions, and this is something I plan to practice also in future. Interestingly, the most difficult move for me was switching the legs from one side to another, while sitting.

    • bikejames says:

      Yeah, rolling is something you should be able to do. It is a lot harder for adults than we think it should be but it is something that is important to be able to do. If crawling is easy then that is fine, it just means you need to maintain it instead of improve it. However, doing the opposite arm and leg during Bird Dogs is different than the same side and you should include them as well as same side Bird Dogs.

      Thanks for taking up the challenge, hope you had some fun with it.

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