Matt24.

20 years on and my state of mind!!

10 posts in this topic

In the spirit of mental health awareness week has a bit of a mind dump I wanted to share and felt this was the appropriate place! So just dawned on me that this month 20 years ago I picked up a copy of mbuk with a free vhs of a euro road trip which Martyn Ashton featured in and spawned my interest in trials. It tied in with a disappointing ride last night where after 4 weeks of being off the bike with a sprained ankle I couldn’t bounce back to the 4 week ago standard immediately!! I’m 32 and struggling a bit with injuries these days and weight and in turn general happiness driven off the back of struggling with reaching previous riding levels.

 

 A house renovation, toddler and general life admin see me eating poorly and unable to get in the exercise I’d like which has seen me put weight on for the last couple of years slowly which now I find gets in the way. I am finding it a bit disheartening and demotivating that I am really struggling to get back up to my early twenties standards again! Riding has been a huge part of my life for 20 years and I never want to part ways with it but I guess am struggling to come to terms with not being able to compete with my younger self. I still feel given enough time to invest in riding I could reach and supersede old levels but it seems out of grasp down to time.

 

 How often do you ride to keep your levels up? How do you manage to balance riding and life? Has anyone else struggled with weight and it’s impact on riding? How do you generally keep your motivation? Have any of you had to come to terms with capability going down as you get older rather than up? Interested on thoughts especially those in the 30+ category! 

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The biggest thing I've found to help my riding now my riding time is a little more limited/sporadic is stretching. I know I've banged on about it in The Angry Thread (if you check out my recent replies to Dave there's some bits in there that may help), but it really does make a huge difference. 

Before I got more into stretching (and general strength/conditioning stuff by way of bouldering), I found that the first parts of my once or twice a week rides were my body getting used to being used again, and I wouldn't really feel like I was ready to go and ride at the level I wanted to.

Doing some basic stretching keeps your body moving nicely, so when you get on the bike you're much more ready to go. It also has the bonus of making you a bit more resilient to injury too as your body should be moving and performing in a better way. The other thing I've found has helped is doing some basic strength/conditioning work on my core. Because I got really into climbing that naturally did quite a lot for improving my core strength, but that combined with being more flexible means that when I get on my bike now I feel like I'm ready to do stuff again. Before, I felt pretty wooden and stiff and just couldn't get my body to do what I wanted it to do. In particular I found that my hop height was limited and my style was super shonky just because my lower back was really tight.

In terms of bike handling skills and having that in tune with your bike feeling, I found that riding 2-3 times a week kept me in a good spot. If you're only riding once or twice a week you're kind of just treading water in a way, but if you can push to 2-3 times things tend to progress. If you're particularly wanting to improve, being a bit more mindful of what you're doing when you ride helps massively. Quality > Quantity! Over the past year I've only really been riding my mountain bike so I've had a lot of things to learn on that, and specifically going for rides where I know I'm working on whatever I know is one of my weaknesses has helped me feel like I'm still making progress. When I'm nailing 3 rides a week I can really feel it all come together vs. only getting to ride once a week.

EDIT: Listened to the Matt Macduff podcast with Dennis Enarson this week, and in that he talks about how now he's in his/approaching his 30's, he feels he's in a much better position than he was in in his 20's simply because he's more careful with what he's eating/drinking, stretching, doing strength training and stuff like that. It seems to ring true for a lot of the more established BMX pros who are still raising the bar in their 30's and 40's - you can get away with a lot of shit in your teens/20's, but just because you've got to be more switched on with how you treat your body in your 30's doesn't necessarily mean that your riding has to stop improving.

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34 your old checking in. Here's my mind dump.

I was never off my bike and a kid and transitioned into actually riding rather than playing in my mid teens. My fondest memories of my teens was out doing long weekly rides with my mates and coming home with aching legs from riding miles and aching stomach and face muscles from laughing at all the f**kery we'd get up to. Everything changed when I got my first trials bike though. Looking back it felt like I was riding trials every day for years. It's amazing how I never really progressed very far with trails considering how much time I spent doing it, but I do have a massive lack of confidence when it comes to doing anything on a bike so I never try anything even slightly out of my comfort zone.

Late teens I was doing terribly in school and a lot of the people who I used to ride with grew out of riding bikes, I tried to keep going solo but it's just not the same. I actually bought a couple of bikes over this time, an XC bike and a road bike, but they were rarely used. Socially everyone who I used to ride with were out drinking instead of biking so a followed along with that. Looking back now that was around the same time I started to slip into depression which kind of makes sense.

When I moved out to the USA and basically restarted my life, I brought my trials bike with me but could probably count on two hands how many times I rode it. A big nail in the coffin for me was riding in a casual competition after barely riding my bike for a year and realizing that any fitness and skill I had had completely gone out of the window. I was unable to work due to immigration issues for a couple of years so all I was doing was drinking, eating like an American and not exercising. I did this for 8 years.

Just before covid I found myself weighing in at 207lbs @ 5'11". Eating whatever the hell I wanted, using marijuana most evenings, getting drunk 3 nights a week. Dealing with mental health issues, panic and anxiety, mild depression and OCD. I did a couple of therapy sessions which weren't great, but certainly put a lot of things into perspective and made me realize what I needed to do to help myself.

Covid, getting a new job and the plans for a pretty decent skatepark down the street from me at the start of 2020 really changed everything. My old job was during the evening and was physically demanding. My new job is working overnights with no physical work so I had much more energy when I was done. I started cycling home in the mornings which became exercise 4 days a week on a bike I'd bought a few years back but hardly ever used. This got me looking into the trail system of my city and I realized that I'm surrounded by dozens of trails of every type you can imagine. I had to buy a trail bike, and I did. I also pulled my mod out of the shed, fixed it up and sold it to buy an Inspired Fourplay for when the skatepark is ready. I also bought a fatbike for the winter too. 2020 I saw my fitness skyrocket and so did my mood. I was on a bike pretty much every other day for months.

I felt my mood crash a little during the winter of 2020. Could no longer commute home on the bike and not having studded tires on the fatbike made it so that I could only ride in very specific conditions. And usually those very specific conditions would line up with dangerously cold temperatures.

As soon as I could this year I flung myself right back into cycling as much as I could and I'm already feeling better. So much so that I'm now 7 weeks clean and sober, and I'm focusing on trying to change my diet going forwards.

Weight is a huge issue for my riding. I'm at least 45lbs heavier than back in the late 2000s / early 2010s. Here's me worrying about the weight of the bike I'm riding when I'm carrying an entire mountain bike of extra weight on myself. So my goal going forwards is just to stay active, get some weight off and just start enjoying everything that bikes have to offer.

I've been very fortunate venturing into my 30s. The only signs of me aging are a few grays and a bout of shingles I had to deal with. Other than being a fatty I've avoided any of the joint or back issues that tend to show up around this time.

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Posted (edited)

31.

-How often do you ride to keep your levels up?
As much as possible, but it comes in bursts. At least once a week, but sometimes seven times a week. (Rarely, but yeah... I love riding :P)


-How do you manage to balance riding and life?
I don't really have a life. Even more so since being made redundant from Covid. That makes the balance easy. When I had a job, I went because I had to and went riding after work instead.


-Has anyone else struggled with weight and it’s impact on riding?
No, can't help here, but I've had fairly influential spine problems. Constant fight. I am fortunate in not really caring about food. I only eat because I have to, rather than because I like it.
Combine that with riding a lot and it tends not to be an issue for me. Good luck there to offset the bad luck with my spine!

 

-How do you generally keep your motivation?
Videos and being jealous :P Again, I think I'm just lucky and thrive on the challenge. With riding this is - when other parts of life get tough I have a tendency to just shut down.

 

-Have any of you had to come to terms with capability going down as you get older rather than up?
Very much so. Particularly with power.
It's prompted a shift towards tech and nasty lines. I'll still try and go as big as I can, but the things that really get me engaged are the gross and novel lines rather than just trying to go as big as possible all the time.

Edited by aener

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The question about coming to terms with not competing with your younger self was a big one for me. When I was 18 I had issues with hypermobility in my shoulders, so after subluxation issues, I had an operation, and I spent about two and half years not riding trials over a four year period. Then I tore my ACL, had it reconstructed, had it rupture again... I'm 26 now and can't say my riding's progressed much at all besides maybe trying to be a bit more stylish as opposed to yanking the bike around.

So progressing stopped being a priority for me when I was 22/23, I'd spent enough time recovering from injuries to realise my priority was to not being in a state of recovery over pushing my riding in a more competitive sense. That kind of works for me though, I've always been a rider who spends a few hours at the same spot and faffing around with low-level stuff anyway. I did find that shifting some of that 'need for progression' energy to another hobby helped, so I've gotten more into music over the years which has the safety blanket of being almost immune to being affected by any trials injuries.

My motivation for trials dwindles a fair bit, if I don't fancy it I can go a month without touching my bike which is something 14-year-old me couldn't have imagined, but I'm been of the mindset that if it's not fun then take a break. Riding's always been about rolling around for the most part so I have a road bike with flat pedals and MTB bars that I ride a few times a week, I get a kick out of going for long-distance rides too, so  I've found a good middle ground where I'm still riding trials but have another bike to take it easier on, or harder if I'm feeling competitive with myself I can shift that focus to going to long distance rides. 

Saying all of that, I got a lot of trials motivation from the plans of making a video. I haven't put together an edited video in years now but I live in the hope of making a 'Video 4' (as I'm sure everyone will remember, Video 3 came out in 2011). I did put together an edit last year that I just didn't upload anywhere because I wasn't happy with the difficulty of the clips. I like having a little something hanging over me to make sure I get out more often, trials is still the thing I get the most endorphins from and it's the guaranteed mood lifter, mechanical issues excluded.

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Posted (edited)

I'm mid 40s, but I only started the process of learning to ride trials just over two years ago. I did a 1h45m session Sunday, and 30m Monday and Tuesday lunch times working from home. I was quite focused on the first two sessions and succeeded (eventually) doing what I set out to achieve, but Tuesday my energy levels were down which meant I tried a few things and moved on to the next when I had enough of the struggle.  Have a 2yo boy who still wakes us most nights and early morning, and we keep binge watching TV series where the cliffhangers keep us up late watching the next one!

Lockdown/furlough then working from home really helped, and also enabled me to start running where previously I cycled to work daily. I was skinny in my youth and didn't really exercise once I got a car, wasn't until recently years that I started putting a little bit of weight on. Running really helped with getting rid of that weight and also I think getting a bit more strength in lower legs/ankles/feet that trials requires in ways regular cycling doesn't.

Motivation as a beginner is some ways easier as I'm sure that I can get better than I am (than I ever was) but due to being mid 40's it's taking longer than if I'd have started even 10 years ago (judging by progress of other riders). Goals help motivation. Decided the other day that if I haven't got a wheel swap or pigeon by the time I'm 50 then I'll call it a day. It's a move my body just can't fathom yet, I can visualize it, I've watched countless tutorials, but if I try to do it feels a million miles away.  Saying that, I do just really enjoy doing basic trialsy stuff on my MTB too (really regretting speccing a Shimano hub with such few points of engagement for it now :-/), and which is why I got into trials in the first place.

edit: just wanted to add I feel my body is starting to adapt to trials now. I was at some points trying bodyweight strength to improve strength for mtb/trials, but I've more or less dropped it and mostly just using trials as the conditioning I guess.

 

Edited by marg26

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I didn't start riding trials until I was 34, but your early 30s are a difficult time. I think subconsciously it's your brain adapting to a 'middle aged' body as opposed to your previous, constantly improving, younger body. You still improve, but not nearly at the rate you could from 15 to 26 years. The real advantage of your mid 30s on is your ability to acquire wisdom more easily. You said it yourself in your initial post, not eating right, not exercising and not enough free time. Focusing on that list will improve your whole life. What it takes is planning. Plan good meals; schedule time to exercise/ride; make some 'me' time. I'm pretty sure I'm addicted to endorphins and my wife has come to the realization that I NEED bike rides to be healthy mentally and physically. My kids are 9 and 12 now so that definitely gives me more free time than when they were younger.  I was lucky enough to find a local kid who really wanted to learn trials and now after 2 years riding with him, he really motivates me to keep trying new stuff (he's almost 16 now). Riding with other people is a great motivator, but if you're in the US, you're probably riding alone sadly.

I can't compare my current trials self with a mid 20s trials self as I wasn't doing it back then, but I do have the heart rate monitor graphs and boy are those two people different! I raced XC mtb from 1991 through the early 2000s and I know that I will never see 210 bpm again! I had the great pleasure of riding trials with Hans Rey when he was 48 (I was 41 at the time) and I was very keen to see what should be possible for lowly old me even at my age. Now having seen Ot Pi's lockdown backyard riding video I realize I have a hopeless amount of stuff left to learn even by his age.  The point is you've still got cycling on your side and you've held onto it. You'll have to temper your expectations with age, but riding a bike will remain an immense amount of fun. You'll have ups and downs; just keep moving forward.  

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I'm 33 and haven't been riding Trials long but have 20 years of riding experience, 10 years of that racing mountain bikes with a bit of Road chucked in there too. I used to compete in XCO mtb mainly doing national and regional races in my early to mid 20's, the training for that was pretty intense. At it's peak I was on the bike about 15 hours a week using work commuting as active recovery, hard race effort threshold sessions during the week and then base fitness rides at weekends, it was bloody hard work and I felt constantly tired but the point was my body could take it. Once I turned 30 it got noticebly harder to recover between efforts and the aches and pains hung around for longer and I eventually got bored of every ride becomming a training ride with scheduled goals, it sucks the fun out of it. On the plus side I've retained some of the fitness and best of all the mentality behind it, it's very much listening to your body but there is a fair bit of 'shut up legs' in there too where you have to push well beyond your comfort zone to eek out that last bit of power and aerobic ability.

Trials has come at the right time for me looking for a change and a new challenge but learning with a 30 year old body has it's own unique problems to overcome so as per Flipps breakdown of your questions...


-How often do you ride to keep your levels up?
I try and ride 3 times a week, quick rides for lunch as often as I can but two big rides of 2hrs or more a week. This has been important for me, short rides don't give my tired body a chance to warm up and I never get going enough to push. Longer rides have been key to progression. Even just one 2 hour ride yeilds more progress than 3 short ones, once I'm warmed up and comfortable (takes 30mins usually) I'm happy to start pushing.


-How do you manage to balance riding and life?
I live with my Fiancee and have no children, we own a house and both work full time so we're in a better position that some. I'm very lucky to be able to ride at work so I take advantage of that when I can. When I was younger I used to ride when I feel like it and that's been a hard habit to kick but I've found having a pre planned session twice a week where everybody is happy works for me. I think as long as you agree it first and stick to it it doesn't cause issues and stops you riding too often too close together which ruinds old bodies! The toughest part is not being able to ride when I want or when other mates are riding but hey, this is adulting so sacrafices must be made, I've spent years messing around on bikes so at somepoint 'normal' life has to take point if that's what you want.


-Has anyone else struggled with weight and it’s impact on riding?
More lack of strength and power than weight. Trials is new so I haven't had years of conditioning. Stretching every day and warming up properly on a ride (no out of the car to 40 inch drops...) is what helps most in getting the most from my riding on a day to day basis. Some of the guys I ride with are easily 2-5 stone heavier than me and manage perfectly fine. I've still got that mentality from MTB training of watching what I eat but I'm not as strict as I was and enjoy food a little more but I always make a point of eating decent meals at the right times and trying to keep snacks relevant to the work I'm doing.

 

-How do you generally keep your motivation?
The drive to learn new things and be better! Again, from MTB, that mindset of 'I will be better than you' in the nicest way possible is a big driver so I have a friendly rivalry with my workmate Charlie to push each other to learn and get better. I try not to worry too much about top class riders, I don't want to accept that I 'can't do that' but I focus on more acheivable things and leave the possibilities open.

 

-Have any of you had to come to terms with capability going down as you get older rather than up?
From an MTB perspective yes, I know I'm no where near as fit as I was but I'm lucky in that I feel like I acheived most of what I wanted to in that discipline and I'm happy to be doing something new. I don't like to put limits on things, my body will do what I damn well tell it! Instead I set realistic goals and inch my way towards them. Drops are a good example. I doubt I'll be doing 15ft drops but I'd be happy at 6ft so I'll keep inching higher until I get it, as far as I'm concerned if you want to do it then you'll find a way within reason. I think you need to be realistic and be of the mindset that 'this is a really good goal for a 30 year old with my experience' rather than 'this is shit I could go bigger in my 20's'  - you're not in you're youth any more, to really enjoy riding you have to let that go and focus on goals that you can acheive now, you'll find your riding more fulfilling.

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Just wanted to say thanks all for the replies, I found it pretty uplifting reading through your varying experiences and suggestions. The house renovation is starting to wind down and if I can invest half as much energy, focus and motivation as I have in the last 6 months into getting this house sorted ahead of the new arrival I can see a bright future! I do think I need to make a mind shift around what I can and can't get away with especially the trade off of exercise versus food and drink intakes. The stretching is also something I am going to take some time to focus on as I think it will really help with these odd sprains & strains which tend to put me out for short sporadic periods and set me back. Thanks again all.....

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Maybe i am not i right person to share thoughts here,because i am a beginner,but i am 47,so i am in this 30+ category.Have i enough MTB skills,so i decided to learn and improve my overall balance and so on,trough observed trials.Well,it is way tough to progress and train in my age,but i found that everyday stretching exercises makes more fit to move freely around bike,yeah,it is not like be at 20,but still works fine.Do some weight exercises too,just to warm my muscle groups.I did have a very bad experience with my shoulders due to training a lot bynnyhop,but i managed to get trough with some good rest and starting in right way again,so this did me think that is very important to get in balance how often,what way and what exactly i have to do and watch to myself is one of these.I am lucky to have two or three days off,so one of them i get rest,on second or third one do training about two-two an a half hours something.That something depends on my mood and how strong i feel that day.Unfortunately,i would not say what is to do training sidehop,up to rear,rolling over stuffs,because i am not in this stage,but maybe it is going to be very tough at this age.I get motivation trough watching M.Ashton,R.Leech and many guys here like AliC,J.Barton,B.Travis etc.,these riders are amazing.

Every time i repeat myself LeeMcComack thought,sort of : "If you do something smoothly and easily,then you do it right.If you do not,just stop and training slow to get the things rightly."

I would say and listen to your body,you needed it.:D Have a nice day,everyone.

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