kingdomexperiences

Conquering your Fears

By: Moriah Wilson

I want to talk a little bit about fear. When I was younger, I used to have a fear of riding bridges. It started when I fell off of a twisty bridge one summer day. I distinctly remember the situation: I just came in a little too tight on the corner and my back tire slipped off. Although I came out unscathed – except for maybe a slight scratch here or there – it was traumatic for me as young rider. From there on out I was fine on straight and wide bridges, but anything narrow, turny, or high up gave me anxiety. I began to walk these bridges, and the more I walked them, the harder it became for me to attempt crossing them again.

Fear for beginners is normal, especially after an incident that can be used to justify that fear. It’s even deeply rooted in our biology, and can commonly be described as the “fight-or-flight response,” in which our sympathetic nervous system releases hormones during stressful situations to determine whether we should flee or fight. From an evolutionary standpoint this response has been extremely useful. However, in modern times it is often overused in situations that don’t actually pose serious threats to our survival. Is falling off a bridge while riding my bike an extremely dangerous threat? In the grand scheme of things… the answer is no. I’m not trying to disregard fear altogether – it’s just important to realize that many of our fears are a little irrational. And the real kick is that they can always be overcome.

For me, the process in overcoming my fear of bridges involved taking baby steps. I started with some of the easier “hard” bridges, and focused on the things that would help me succeed in crossing them. For me that was looking ahead on the bridge so that I would stay balanced and keep myself moving in the direction I wanted. The small victories gave me the confidence and the motivation to try harder ones. And the feeling I got from doing something that scared me was the most rewarding of all.

So whatever your fear may be, know that it can be overcome. Make a plan, and gain confidence in each step of the process. The reward will be worth it.

The Butt Smear – Collin Daulong

Mountain biking and instruction are two things that have not come together universally until relatively recently. I have done some thinking on why this is and came up with a few reasons why.

“ It’s as easy as riding a bike”; one of the oldest cliches in the book. Used to describe anything that is easy or intuitive; mostly used because of how young we are when we start riding a bike.
The sport of Mountain Biking is relatively young, only in the 70’s did Gary Fisher and Joe Breezer start making klunkers to descend down sketchy fire roads with reckless abandon.
The final reason why I think these two have not been tied together more tightly is because the race scene has been relatively under exposed compared to some of it’s other outdoor counterparts like skiing and snowboarding.

Now that we are living in the age of social competition like Strava, the price of admission in the form of equipment is becoming lower and race formats are becoming more friendly for all ability level and age groups, we are seeing more and more people seeking out assistance in the form of instruction to make themselves better riders. I cannot stress enough the importance of getting targeted instruction – even if you think you do not need it (sure says the guy trying to sell instruction). Before you judge, let me explain myself in the form of a story.

I have been deeply passionate about all things mountain bike since around 1997. I was a “husky” kid with pimples, braces and 4 eyes who did not fit into the regular repertoire of middle school and high school sports (let alone their jerseys) so I sought out something I could call my own: mountain biking. Ever since then I have made it a goal to remain competitive against myself and try to be my best. Over the years I thought I had gotten it, I was riding faster and faster, becoming more skilled, cornering better and even getting fit!

Last year, I took a certification class to become a certified mountain bike instructor through PMBIA. I went in expecting to check off boxes and not learn much that would be new, as I felt that the skills taught were things I was doing intuitively for years and even decades. I went in with an open mind and acted like a sponge. Many of the things we learned like how to shift your weight when climbing, how not to shift under load and using front brake versus rear brake….boring right? Especially at my superior level (insert heavy sarcasm)?!

And then BOOM, it happened, I learned something game changing, something that I use hundreds of times a ride that sets my riding apart – it was the butt smear. Ah yes, I am sure you are dying to hear more about my butt smear! It is actually a pretty ingenious way of thinking about cornering and how to position yourself and your butt for that matter. It means that when you go around a corner imagine smearing your butt on the outside edge of the corner to position your body correctly to get the best traction to carry your speed better. In all honesty this is something that I was doing for years prior, but it was not until I had an instructor help me visualize it in this way that helped me optimize the motion. This visualization and different way of thinking about something has lead to an increased amount of fun and excitement on EVERY SINGLE RIDE I have had since then.

There is a quote: “the physician that treats himself has a fool for a patient” and this could not have come to life more thanin the PMBIA Course. I am not saying instruction is for everyone or for you, but what I am saying is that if you open yourself to the opportunities that targeted instruction can present it can enhance EVERY SINGLE RIDE of yours after that.

Now let’s go smear our butts and ride to a better future!

Happy Trails,

Collin

Quinn Gets Excited for Summer!

New England winters are arguably more brutal than those of any other location in the United States. The unfortunate combination of length, temperature, and severe vitamin D deficiency make spring– and the beginning of bike season– that much more tantalizing.

February has graced those of us here in East Burke, Vermont with a surprising number of pow days, and I will admit, they make the heart of winter substantially more bearable. But no matter how many turns I carve on soft groomers, or cliffs I jump in hardwood forests I can’t replicate the excitement of bike seasons first pedal strokes.

By late April, Darling Hill, sleepy and trimmed with feet of snow in the winter, is replaced by a bustling scene of locals and tourists who’ve pulled their bikes from the shed, oiled their chains, and made their way to the Kingdom Trails. There’s a constant, palpable excitement which presents itself through customers face splitting grins and muddy shins after the morning’s first miles.

As opening day wears on, my excitement will grow exponentially, and for the last hour in the bike shop I can hardly contain myself. I sneak glances at the clock. Thirty minutes, ten, five, and the first “open” sign of summer is rolled up and brought inside. With the jitters of a six-year-old on Christmas eve I’ll tie the familiar laces of my riding shoes and plot a mental map of the trails I love so much. Threading my handlebars through the shop’s door frame as my cleats settle securely into the pedals, I’ll crank towards the trail head and into the new season. There will be countless afternoons during the summer that start just like that, but for now I’m waiting in anticipation of opening day, sucking wind on a stationary bike and wishing the turns I make in the woods were atop two wheels and a ribbon of dirt.

Quinn