Progressing enduro and hard enduro riding takes energy and dedication, it doesn’t just happen so here’s how Megs and I approach upping our game, and it ultimately comes down to dedicated practice. I’ve written this following our live chat on the topic – you can watch it here:
So what is dedicated practice? It’s focusing on an individual element of a skill or riding so homing in and spending a chunk of time solely focusing on that. Consider it like doing drills, over and over again.
It’s important as it enables you to really develop and get the movement into the muscle memory. Once you reach the point of it being subconscious you free up your mental capacity for other areas. Such as reading the terrain ahead, which will actually then help you go faster. Think of the Dakar riders who are able to ride at +80mph sucking up the sand dunes and unknown terrain while following a paper scrolling navigation on their bars using cap headings. Without muscle memory this would be impossible.
Examples of dedicated practice drills:
For me it has to be logs, although they always scare me. With practice I’m starting to be able to hit bigger and bigger things. Logs come in so many shapes and sizes, with different run ups and exists, then you add wet conditions and it’s a different board game. My least favourite has to be corners unfortunately. I’ve been spending time on figure of 8 drills and have definitely improved but put me in an unknown terrain or a flat bend and I’m not yet at a point of really trusting the side tread and wanging it around a corner to what ever I face next. Lot’s more practice needed.
There are two areas of riding where dedicated practice can really help.
If you’re like me when I first heard about dedicated practice, you might be wondering what are your areas to focus on? Here are some ideas to find yours:
If you’re still sat there thinking…ummm I can’t think of an area… there are two possibilities, either you are GForce Jarvis and an absolute pro… or … more likely….you’re just not quite focused your mind on your riding enough. Maybe ask a friend what they think your weaker area is. Friends are normally ace at knowing and a good friend will be honest with you!
I was terrified of downhills but with practice, going round and round I am starting to normalise the fear:
Next it is time to talk about actually working on them. You need to figure out an exercise to focus in. Cornering is an easy example with figure of 8s. Standing, sitting, up / down, burms, off camber, flat, gravel, rutted, sand.
Find a way to ride them as much as you can. If you don’t have a dedicated area you can train, when you go our trail riding, try to dedicate ten minutes every time you ride. Find a space where you’re not going to upset anyone and focus in on that skill.
Using friends to give you a visual or even video yourself is a great way to get analysis. So often I think I’m burning round a corner, elbows up, weight forward…and then I see the video and it barely looks like I’m even trying. Video is a great tool for self-analysis!
If you’re not sure on the technique get on to some online tutorials, YouTube is an obvious start and Megs has loads!
Find new terrain, new locations, new spots to ride, travel and get some riding time with new people.
We’ve worked on weakness but how do we then work out how to really step things up!
It’s not just about getting better at what you do, it’s also about growing your riding skill set. So how do we identify them?
An important factor when pushing your riding to the next level is understanding that it can take time. It can take hours and hours of practice, fall after fall and many bike drops. You might also nail is one day and then completely fail the next. This is why dedicated practice is needed, keep at it until it is so dialled in you get to a consistence performance. Don’t give up! You might also want to seek some help from others or video yourself and double check some online tutorials as it could be a small tweak in your body could get you there.
But don’t give up. Rome was not built in a day and progressing can take a lot of sweat and bruises.
Having said that…it is also vital to understand how far to push yourself and know when you’re at your limits. To progress you have to leave your comfort zone but it’s important to only push so far. Enduro and hard enduro can be very demanding and dangerous sports so it’s about making calculated risks. Push beyond your limits but in a safe way. I guess it is the difference between being brave and stupid!
No when to give up, here I tired three times and knew it was time to walk away, live for another day and conquer that hill/step next time.
You must leave your comfort zone to grow, but remember the difference between bravery and stupidity!The Girl On A Bike
It’s also important to know when to quit. Maybe today is just not the day. Walk away and try again another day. This could be particularly important when the conditions are not right. Don’t set a be all and end all goal on learning to wheelie on a wet day, it’s just not sensible. Try something else.
Get out and ride, and stay safe.
If you’re new to my page – it’s more than just dirt bike riding and racing, I’m on a mission to prove that nothing is impossible if you want it bad enough. See more about my story plus read about my life changing accident, which started it all.