A walk in paradise prepares me for winter riding

I spent last weekend in paradise and not once did I think 29er. I expected cold days and a good chance of snow as I was in Chamonix. However, like here, we had warm sunny days and no sign of winter. The plan was always to walk but given the conditions road riding would have been perfect and mountain biking absolutely mind blowing.

On all the trails that we climbed or descended all that I could think about, when not gawping at the wondrous views, was riding. I imagined the wheel catching that slight rise that would serve as a berm, or the root that would knock the wheel round making the drop safe or the rock section that would enable a gravity defying climb. No slippery chalk here!

The only bike that I had in my head for these imaginary climbs and descents was the Marin Mount Vision XM8. It was made for this sort of technical terrain. I know that the Whyte 146 could be better but the Mount Vision is the bike that I have ridden and know so well. I just could think about any other bike.

My head was spinning with the potential excitement of the trails by day and by night my brain switched to the winter’s snow and I could clearly visualise my skis carving through some deep fresh powder.

My imagination was running wild. You may think me a bit odd but I have learnt to ride and ski (an all the other things that I have done) more by thinking than anything else. I try and practise a lot; but, above all, it is by visualising every move that I have learnt. Believe me, if you can’t even visualise cleaning a particular section of sketchy trail, if you can’t run through each bump, rock, skid correction and jump in your mind then how the hell are you going to be able to cope when all that you are relying on is hanging onto the bars hoping for the best?

So now that the wet has finally arrived and every off road rider is having nightmares about wiping out on the chalk. Try to imagine making it across that slippery bit, imagine the bike sliding, imagine the tyres catching some grip at the end of the slide and imagine recovering and riding on to the next bit. The beauty of our slopes is that they are so slippery that you can experience sliding at really slow speeds (like a car in s skid pan). Learn to let the bike slide, get used to the sensation, don’t tense up and fight the bike. You may still fall but you will start to relax. You’ll need to as we may have a few months of this.

More information on Chamonix can be found here.

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