Reaching a Plateau? Try something Different!

Guest Post by Elaine Bothe

Are you stuck on a lesson or not quite getting something? What have you found helpful to blast through it?

During a recent practice session, I discovered how reviewing other skills and riding on different terrain can help! When you hit a plateau, try these ideas to mix up your practice sessions.

Review or start the Baseline Balance Skills series. These foundation lessons helped me reboot my wheelie and improved a lot of other useful trail skills.

Back up two or three lessons, and practice those skills on different terrain. With some extra caution or more armor than usual, ride your favorite gradual uphill slope when it’s bumpy and dry. Ride when it’s windy! Or practice in a new field. Make your field new by going downhill, or traverse across it! Practice on a gravel road, dust over hard pack, even pavement if you’ve been working on grass. Go slower. Or a little faster! You’ll learn how to adjust your technique and balance in new ways.

Here’s how it worked for me! After plateauing at an iffy four to five-ish pedal stroke wheelie, I started the Baseline Balance Skills series. I eventually stalled out on that too, because, life, and race schedules. One day, I headed to the field where I often practice wheelies but instead worked on “Momentary Pause” from Baseline Balance Skills.

Construction blocked my usual practice area so I rode back and forth across the slope, not up it. This bumpy off-camber slope made riding much more difficult. I also played with brake/no-brake pauses, opposite foot forward, and front wheel to the right and left. Fun! After some hilarious fails but no falls, I got a much better feeling for the ratchet and improved my drivetrain control and balance.

On my way home I went for a couple of refresher wheelie passes. With no particular goal in mind except fun, up went the front wheel, much easier than ever! So I did it again. And again! A lot of times!

Because of my new feel for the drivetrain I got into the float zone quicker. I had several solid, giggle-worthy six stroke wheelies and a couple of seven strokers. “Stokers” I should say since I was so stoked rolling home!

Learning is a thrill, and so is blasting through a plateau. Share your experience in the comments section below!


About Elaine Bothe

Elaine is a lifetime enthusiast, teaching herself to ride on a borrowed bike at age 4. She eventually found her true passion in the dirt learning new skills, racing downhill, pedaling back up as fast as possible and helping others go even faster! Elaine coaches for Wenzel Coaching and holds Level 2 MTB instructor certifications through IMBA and Simon Lawton’s Fluidride program. She can usually be found grinning and kicking up dust or mud on a trail near Portland, Oregon.

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