Being a great rider … in theory!

Being a great rider ... in theory!

The Far Island Fox Hunt: On theory versus implementation.

Perhaps you are one of the many who have, or will, return to riding after a reasonable spell. It’s a time that may bring with it one or two unexpected occurrences. Even more so if that spell can be attributed to a nasty crash.

For one, all your best riding recollections living patiently, collectively in your memory might not in practice, effortlessly re-emerge as a sensually smooth caress of Mt Glorious’s sweet sun-speckled curves.

Yet like the memories, the infrastructure for those skills and abilities do still reside safely in your brain. They simply need to be reinstated. A common and effective way of achieving this is to undertake a course specifically designed for those returning to riding.

Following my recent life scale horror crash I’m proud to say I’ve been attending a few courses myself, although of the psychological kind. I’m less proud to say they are courses I have attended before. In fact, I know the theory as well as many instructors.  It would also be fair to say that had I actually implemented the theory I may have avoided a great deal of the pain that came with, and as a result of, my crash.

How so? Well, consider the return-to-riding course example. The greatest challenge for many will not be picking up new skills. It is in fact ‘unlearning’ bad skills. Life skills are in no way different (consider diet and exercise).

It can be done though. Like the riding course it requires commitment to repeatedly, mindfully, practicing the correct technique. Each time we do, our brain begins to construct that initially weak but effective pathway into an enticingly smooth, solid stretch of road.

At the same time the brain stops using the ‘incorrect’ pathway, ceases to maintain it and eventually may close that track altogether. In time, without us even having to think about it the brain will automatically choose the road we have programmed into it as the more attractive option.

Do you see where I’m going? Yep, here’s the thing, it takes time and some effort to build a new road. Complicating things further is that until the brain has been adequately re-programmed it can have you halfway down that old road before you know it. An easily demoralising occurrence.

You might have been at a riding course, or almost any other course for that matter, and had the instructor remind you of the process. “Yes, yes, I know what to do,” I hear myself saying again.

“Then why don’t you do it?” replies the instructor.

“I … don’t … know.” Brains are not actually hard to train, but they are stubborn, and if you are like me and easily distracted by, well, just about anything, it takes a little extra effort again.

And so, I’m off for another practice lap. I can well remember tickling the sides of Mt Glorious on a bright red RD350LC. It’s a memory I hope to relive one day and appreciate in full mindful awareness.


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