Liminal and Pedaling.

March 5, 2020

Liminal and Pedaling.

May 29, 2023

I was deep in the desert this morning riding bikes with friends; I have been mountain biking poorly for about 30 years now. My head was filled with lessons learned while balanced over two wheels, above rocks and cactus, at the edge of cliffs, out in nature.

When I was just a few years into mountain biking, a coach told me to watch the way a single wheel will roll down a hill, over everything, without help; you merely need to get out of the way. A mountain bike will do that with you atop, if you only let it. So for years that was my M.O. Let the machine do the work it was designed to do. Build momentum and let it carry me. Seemed easy enough. And also occasionally terrifying. I thought this was all it took to be a good rider. I was often in the panic zone.

Then some years later I took a clinic with a professional mountain biker. I was open to learning more. She taught me skills that made me a more efficient and confident rider. Momentum alone was powerful. Momentum plus experience equaled nuance and fluidity. I experienced the power of mentorship and skill building when approaching a challenge with curiosity.

I find comfort in riding the same trail repeatedly, learning where the terrain traps lie. I can prepare for the uphills and tight turns, and improve my performance over time. I can become proficient. Here lies the trap of the comfort zone. If you don’t try new trails, you risk boredom. Using the skills you have acquired to lean into new learning, you can find the flow that exists in the balance of knowing and learning. The flow state. The stretch zone.

At MEA, we reference the the impact of a growth mindset on widening the flow channel, the place where we dwell when adding enough challenge to our current skill set to keep growing. It applies not just on the bike, but to well…everything.

And finally, while at 50, while my “motor” may have more miles over the years the bikes have improved… and I can afford better toys.

Christine Sperber is the Chief Experience Officer and partner in MEA and a former pro snowboarder.

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