Whenever I’ve been told in the past that I wouldn’t be able to do something, I would always want to know why that was the assumption. If somebody tells me I can’t do something, then my mind starts to work overtime until I can come up with a logical way to achieve whatever it is I want to do.
That is one side of my personality which is tempered by the other side which will likely listen to good advice and will seek out those with more experience to learn from. However, that being said…I do share an adventurous spirit but seldom do I feel the need to travel half way around the world to prove that point either.
Anytime I’m on a trail, whether I’ve meticulously planned it (Don’t Laugh) or whether I’ve jumped on it by chance (Which is the Norm) I tend to look at what is just in front of me and make a decision there and then whether I should proceed or not. It’s about what I’m seeing directly in front of me and factoring for the conditions of the day but also what my body and mind is telling me too, with a healthy analysis of how competent I really am in any given situation.
I know what kind of bike I’m riding and how heavy it can be to manoeuvre if I get stuck of if it was dropped or laid down too. I also know of what other riders can do with similar bikes or with much lighter bikes too, however this is something I try to distance myself from whenever I’m out riding and I’m in the middle of making a decision. It’s never about what anyone else can do on their bike, it’s always what I can or can’t do on mine.
The more off road riding you do, the more you’ll find your rhythm and know what works for you and what doesn’t. Just as many other riders would likely stand on the pegs if riding through ruts, I tend to sit down on the saddle. I know that if I’m stood up and lose my balance, need to put a foot down, then my footing could easily disappear down into a hidden rut or hole that is masked by grass, I could lose the bike and likely break a leg and be stuck there.
It’s all about playing the percentages for me and getting the trail ridden, get to the other end and go ride some more too. There are techniques that I use for myself and have developed as I have gone along, but I also learn from the failings of others too. Whilst you might scoff and chuckle at the YouTube antics of those who fail with alarming regularity, it is also a great place to learn what to do and what not to do as well.
It would be easy to watch a few videos or anyone you see whilst out riding and think to yourself ‘Yosser Hughes’ self, “I can do that!” but only fate will really know that for sure. Of course you could gradually teach yourself to be able to do things, or take some worthwhile instruction, but at the final trial…it will be the decisions we make whilst in the moment that will define fi we have a bad, good or great day on the trails.
I know I could ride a knife edge…if that edge were an inch off the floor but I’m sure I wouldn’t want to try it with a big heavy bike being a foot or two in the air, let alone on a mountain edge. However, I might be more inclined to do it with a much lighter dirt bike that is designed to be thrown on the floor and picked up again. Small, light and resilient is what you need if you really want to get into the tight and serious stuff, but if you’re on a big adventure bike, then it’s worthwhile knowing both yours and the bike’s limitations.
So the moral of the tale is to make your own path and not be led by others. Know yourself and your bike but ultimately make those decisions properly..and once made, then commit and make the best approach you can. You will develop more proficiency and skills the more off road riding you do, but the key is baby steps and to have a good interrogation and feedback system in your decision making process. Onwards!