“Don’t practice until you get it right; practice until you can’t get it wrong.” –
Strava tells me my best time up Pet-e-kes was around 12.5 minutes. Not sure how accurate this is since I don’t always Strava and I don’t usually race it. If I did I’m certain I could get under 12 minutes. Today it took me no less than 30 minutes. Or no fewer than 30 minutes, depending on how you feel about proper English.
Why did it take so long, you wonder? Well- I did a little practice. There are at least 4 distinct obstacles on the climb: the ramp, the notch, the rooty slope thing, and the baby-head sand pile. I have maybe cleaned all of these in the same ride twice. Twice. Now, Strava has recorded me riding it 40 times. Add another 20% to that for times I didn’t track it. So maybe 2 of 50 times I have stayed with both feet on my bike over the entire 1.3 miles of trail.
This morning I was thinking about why that is. Shouldn’t my stats be a little better than that? Well, you have to take into account the difficulty of this trail. I know people who avoid it like the plague. On my first group ride with the Single Track and Skinny Tire Sisters when we split into groups it was the “Can you clean Pet-e-kes” group and the “Can you NOT clean Pet-e-kes” group.
Okay, back to the point. I haven’t practiced enough. You think after playing instruments for the last 20+ years I would understand the practice thing. I thought I had it down pretty good when I first started mountain biking. Despite the many wounds incurred by each ride, I pressed on to ride again and again- I was willing to practice these skills until I could add them to my skill set.
I think too often we associate the learning process with school, and thus with youth. And we forget that we can learn things later in life. We can practice. But sometimes I think we forget that learning DOES take practice. I had a swim lesson this morning. My coach taught me some new drills, pointed out some flaws in my technique. Did I learn anything? I would say no. A week from now when I have applied these tools and my body can perform them well, then I would say I have learned them.
Wow. Do I keep getting off topic? Ugh. The things stress will do to you, right?
So- trail experience today: practiced all them big nasty obstacles on Pet-e-kes until not only could I ride them once, but multiple times unscathed. I was taking the time to learn. To practice. I gave myself a re-do, over and over and over. (Sometimes we need lots of re-dos).
Moral of the story: don’t be afraid to make a mistake AND give yourself a re-do. Take the time to practice. And let others do the same. We ALL make mistakes, and we all deserve the chance to re-do.
Also- I ran into an older gent on the trail today. He was hiking. Was very polite- we both were enjoying the cold weather and the way the clouds were clinging to the cliffs of the Monument. It wasn’t creepy until he said, “And it’s just the two of us out here.” Creepy, right?
I was going to ask him to shoot me. I mean a PICTURE of me. But I decided to see if I met with anyone else. I would ask them instead. Lucky for me, the very next person to cross my path was Lee Gellatt- a local photographer. Kid you not. Got him to take my pic. Enjoy!