Have you ever had a song stuck in your head? Over and over you hear something like, “Wake me up before you go-go… I’m not planning on going solo.” The words keep coming back in a never-ending loop and finally when you think its over, there it is again.
Doug, our Deer Valley mountain bike instructor, got in my head during our lesson last weekend but fortunately in this case, it was in a good way. You see I have a bad habit. I look down. When I ski, instead of looking at where I am going, I look down right in front of me at all the obstacles I am about to hit. Of course this means I have no time to react because I see them too late.
During our mountain biking lesson, my husband Jay and I learned a great many things including balance with the platform stance and transferring our weight way back on the bike so we are almost sitting on the back tire for steep declines. We learned to trust the bikes; we employed controlled momentum and the 29” knobby tires took us over rocks, roots and gravel with no problems. The third important lesson we learned was vision.
Doug explained, “When you look ahead to where you want to go instead of where you are, your brain registers everything in front of you even the fuzzy stuff in your peripheral vision.” I took that to mean, looking down is a complete waste of time. It’s also no fun. When all you are looking at is obstacles, all you experience is fear. When you look ahead to where you want to go, your brain is actively engaged in the strategy to get there, which is way more fun!
Somehow this concept I had been struggling with suddenly became very easy. The words, “Look up” were stuck in my head and I was automatically doing it. Why now? I wondered. Maybe it was because Doug, from a large Italian family, is a loud talker. He told us growing up he couldn’t get a word in at the dinner table unless he spoke really loud and over top of his brothers. To the casual observer, his family dinner might sound like a heated argument but to them, it was a normal every day occurrence. His loud clear instructions stuck with me – “Look up! Vision! Choose your line.”
When you coupled the loud talking with his step-by-step instructions and attention to detail, we had a winning combination. Since Deer Valley mountain biking trails start at the intermediate level, Doug started us in the parking lot where he built skill upon skill. He had us riding the bumpy stairs from one lot to the next. He taught us how to take turns on specially prepared switchback trails beneath trees on the side of the lot. When we got the “Let’s do it!” from Doug, we headed to the lifts.
The lift operator handled each of our bikes hooking them onto the chairs behind us. When we got to the top, we headed to “Tour des Homes” – the easiest mountain bike run but still an intermediate trail. When we hit the first steep decent, I was prepared and looked up to where I wanted to end up – not at the ground in front of me.
The first turn – I looked ahead.
The first bump – I kept my eyes on where I was going.
When I encountered:
A narrow single trail,
And switchbacks with all of the above, I looked up the whole time! I just kept hearing, “Look up!” both from Doug and also in my own head. I was cured!
The most important part is we were also having fun. Jay and I hadn’t even dusted the cobwebs off our bikes this year. We’d never even ridden a single track in our lives and Deer Valley got us from zero to intermediate in one morning. We were pretty amazed. Our friends were amazed. Our children were shocked.
We’re looking forward to taking our bikes up the lift and hitting the Tour des Homes many times this summer. I love having that voice in my head saying, “Vision! Look up!” I hope it stays with me for the entire ski season, too. Now, that would be wonderful.
The only problem I have now is I can’t get this tune out of my head, “Wake me up before you go-go … I’m not planning on going solo.” Anyone have a cure for that?
To learn more about the mountain biking lessons and experience at Deer Valley Resort, click here.