When Reality Bites

Turning to the web for MTB inspiration is becoming more popular all the time. But are all those online edits and instructional videos sabotaging our best efforts to improve? RLC Ambassador, Carl Roe ponders the consequences of surfing your way to better skills.

The internet is awash with shred edits, fist-bumping bros ripping corners, whipping to the moon and living the MTB dream. These edits inspire us mere mortals to greater things and get us pumped to ride. But there is a dark side – it’s easy to become hypnotised by the stream of adrenaline-fueled propaganda and start comparing ourselves to the pros.

Back in the real world, our skills are amateurish in comparison. If only there was a way to ride just like our heros. Cue the 3-minute, “How-To” instructional edit. String together a few movements and voila, you’ll be [insert skill here] like a pro in no time… too easy!

But there’s just one problem – learning a new skill isn’t easy. We forget that the pros have spent years, more likely decades, practicing, riding, racing, turning up. The reason the skill they’re demonstrating looks so easy is because they’ve had a lifetime of practice – they can wheelie better than they can walk.

Developing a new skill takes dedication, particularly if you’re an adult. You can’t learn to bunnyhop in an afternoon. What’s covered in five minutes on YouTube can take three to six months to master in the real world, or longer – that’s the reality. It takes many sessions to build the movement patterns, coordination and strength to execute a new skill.

And while the instruction provided in free online tutorials might be sound, a short video will likely leave a lot of questions unanswered. Videos can give you a hit, a rush, a temporary dopamine hit, a mental breakthrough, a feeling of enlightenment… until you get on your bike and reality hits. The uneasy truth is that online edits aren’t designed to teach you a skill from start-to-finish, they’re entertainment, designed to earn views, likes, subscribers and shares. Free online videos might show us what is possible, but they don’t necessarily illustrate the steps required.

Compare a free, five-minute online bunnyhopping tutorial, to a $47 online bunnyhopping masterclass with 38 lessons featuring detailed video progressions, practical exercises and coach feedback. Which option is more likely going to lead to success? All for less money than a set of tires.

But you’ll still need to turn up. There is no quick hack, no silver bullet, no bike or special piece of equipment you can buy that’s a fast track to skills mastery. Developing skills is a journey without end, more a lifestyle than a hobby. And yet, rediscovering the joy of learning (remember what that was like?) and experiencing real progression provides satisfaction beyond words. Plus it’s fun, so much fun – like being a kid again. Take that, adult responsibilities!

Do you have a specific set of skills you'd like to improve? Or maybe you'd like a bit of extra guidance and motivation? Either way, if you're looking to become a better rider, why don't you try our Online Mountain Bike Skills Coaching membership for free. You get access to hundreds of tutorials, a community of like-minded riders and expert coaching feedback.

Try it free for 7 days

Curious if our membership is worth it? Here's a compilation of some of our awesome members: 

RLC Students putting in the work!

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