Would you believe me if I told you that giving people permission to \u201cnot\u201d do something is one of the best pieces of advice I pass to people as a mountain bike skills coach? I own TakeAim Cycling, a skills company that has coached riders and new instructors for almost 10 years from Vermont to Florida. I started this business thinking that I\u2019d be showing people how to ride bikes better but I quickly learned that I\u2019d also be spending a lot of time letting people off the hook from the world\u2019s pressures to perform and to help them redefine success. Here are a few conversations I often have with clients that have helped them turn their fear and frustration into flow. \n\n\n\nFeature image and above image by Joe Foley.\n\n\n\nOften I\u2019ll have a client beating themselves up about how they can\u2019t stop braking in corners and that if only they could master going brakeless they\u2019d reach some riding nirvana. Gently I\u2019ll break the news to them that the dogma of \u201cjust letting go\u201d will not solve all their problems. I\u2019ll then explain that the main issue is suddenly \u201cadding\u201d braking forces in the middle of a corner. So we practice braking more before the corner and either maintaining or letting off the brakes through the corner. The result is they suddenly flow more through corners and then we can work on other skills that help them brake even less. Reframing what \u201cbraking\u201d is lets us stop hating the action and begin using it with more intention to find more flow in every corner. \n\n\n\n\n\n\n\nSpeaking of struggling with expectations, let\u2019s talk about the next scenario that a recent client struggled with. After only about a year of riding he decided to try to ride the Shenandoah Mountain 100. He came to me and we started working on an eight month plan to get him ready to have a successful race. One day he mentioned how he was really struggling on a section of the course and how frustrated he was to not be able to ride it. Once I realized where he was struggling I quickly reassured him that few people actually ride those technical climbs and even fewer would burn matches to try in the middle of a 100 mile race. Since he didn\u2019t ride with others, he assumed that most people must ride it. We then went out and rode other tough sections of the trail together and I showed him where it\u2019s better to get off and walk than waste energy or risk injury. This rider had no perspective on what was hard for others and assumed he was doing something wrong. Even if he had gone out with a couple riders, they may have been the 1% of those able to ride certain sections and he\u2019d still be wondering why \u201ceveryone\u201d can ride it but him! \n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\nThese days access to dirt jumps is easier than ever but that doesn\u2019t mean you have to jump them to have fun and find flow. I\u2019ll point at a series of tabletop jumps and tell people to just ride them but not stress about jumping. So many people are blind to this option and just telling them they don\u2019t have to jump is a major shift in their perception. I\u2019ll have them start by rolling and pumping jumps with wheels down at slower speeds and they\u2019ll immediately be having fun and improving skills without the worry of needing to jump. I always tell people you\u2019ve \u201cgot to roll it to know it\u201d and drop all other expectations. \n\n\n\n\n\n\n\nEnjoying the process is a big part of success in mountain biking but unfortunately getting into it can be intimidating. In all of these cases I get to help people reframe their goals in a way that leads to more fun and flow everytime they ride. Let us know what you\u2019re working on and we\u2019ll help you tackle your goals no matter your skill level. TakeAim Cycling provides private group and individual instruction, as well as open camps and clinics. Check us out on the web and Instagram.