Emotional Control

This is my first "real" blog post that I will formally post to the page. With that being said, I welcome you to my world of musings that I intend to share with you full heartedly.

Now, with that being said, it's 10:13 PM and I'm exhausted. So this will be a short post, but meaningful.

*This video was sent to me from a parent...*

I consistently hear from parents that they struggle teaching their child to ride. Emotions flare on both sides and it's easy for the child to express their emotions in front of the parent because they are comfortable and it's easy for some parents to give in because it can be stressful. The very same thing could be said of adults. We are our true selves when we are completely comfortable and around those that we know love us and care for us.

Time and again I've heard, "We never thought they were going to learn to ride", "It's just something we gave up on", or "It just becomes too emotional".

That's where I come in.

Imagine if I were to come to you and say here is a motorcycle, put your legs over it, here is the front brake, rear brake, throttle, clutch and gear shifter. Now lets ride. You would be terrified unless you had ridden a motorcycle a number of times before, and if pushed beyond a limit you would become emotional mainly out of fear.

There is a whole process to riding a bicycle. In fact, riding is really quite easy. Walking is harder to learn to do than riding a bicycle. Human beings are top heavy and walking around on two small pedestals. However we can pivot, run, jump, skip, and walk. Learning to balance on the bicycle is quite easy because a rider has two gyroscopes holding them up. A spinning wheel is stable a non spinning wheel is not due to the beautiful physics of forces. Quite elegant and quite simple.

Having ridden for 25 years of my life and racing at the highest level of professional cycling the Bicycle is apart of me. I can see where kids are struggling when learning, and I can provide immediate feed back for alternative methods try.

The whole point of this blog post was to tell a short story:

In class we have a range of abilities compiled with a range of personalities and a range of ages. Given those two factors various emotions come out. How students handle frustrations, excitement, thrill, accomplishment, progress, trust and more. It's quite fascinating really to experience. You can actually witness these emotions as they take place if you watch from the sidelines.

I had this student recently and I was challenging on a fairly steep decent. I had taken the students off campus and we climbed up 3 tiers of relatively steep climbs here in Boulder near their school. The object was 1. to get out and ride, 2. work on braking. Every class we are building on skills, and skills come from actually doing the drills.

We work extensively on stopping in class, but it's primarily on flat ground. If you cannot stop what's the point of going forward. Stopping is essential for safety and there are multiple procedures for stopping in given circumstances. A student's perception of the road/trail changes when looking down a steep section of road, and fear takes over. It's this fear that has to be overcome in the moment because it blocks the minds ability to do what it knows it can already do.

She became emotional, not out of frustration, but fear itself. So I got in front of her and looked her straight in the eyes and said, "When we get emotional we can't always think clearly. Sometimes we have to control our emotions so we can do something that we know we can do. I know that descending is scary, but that's why you're here, because I'm pushing your boundaries as a bicycle rider. We have practiced stopping in class on a flat ground, and this isn't any different, this is where braking is important and knowing that you can stop is essential for your control. You get down this, and the rest of the decent back to school will be easy. Focus on me for a moment, where are your brakes, how do they work and where do we put our feet...okay focus on that."

We broke through that emotional barrier in that moment. Maybe not forever, but in that moment we did. She let go, got her feet on the pedals as she began forward momentum and then got control by braking. I didn't have to help her the rest of the way down towards school.

It's these moments, these emotions and their variations that helps form the bond I have with these kids. It makes the effort I put in worth it, I know I'm making a difference.

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