Stop Staring at Your Obstacles

My regular readers know I do a lot of bike riding, and often use my time on a bike to outline my blogs in my mind.  Summer is here and I’m mountain biking more this year, and this last week I fell into a great canyon with my bike and thought about a subject that seemed perfect for this week.

Road and mountain biking are very different, but some things about riding a bike hold true across both platforms.  One thing I try to point out when helping new riders is the fact that your bike will always go where your head is aimed, steering is not ultimately done with the arms.  Look where you need to with your eyes, but steering a bike is done with your head and shoulders.

Case in point:  One technique I love working on with new mountain riders is while on very narrow bike paths (single tracks) look down the path with your eyes, but if there is a cliff that you must avoid on either side, tilt your head the opposite direction.

Adjusting the angle of your head even subtly while looking down the path with your eyes will help riders avoid pitfalls.  I use this trick on every mountain ride I’m on, if I need to avoid falling off the path to the left side, I pivot my head as if I’m looking at the right side of the path.  I can keep my eyes on the path but my bike will instinctively steer to the right side of the track.

How do we avoid pitfalls that are right in front of us?  It seems counter-intuitive, but if you want to avoid a rock in the path of your bike, stop looking at it.  Looking directly at an obstacle while on your bike locks both your eyes and your head on that obstruction, your bike will follow and more times than not your running over it.

Instead, focus your eyes on the clear path around the obstacle.  Instinctively your bike will find the clear path and your ride will be much more enjoyable.  This is a small trick but it’s so effective for navigating tight mountain rides.

Lastly, riding while looking at what is directly in front of your tire will get you in trouble.  Not knowing what is ten or twenty feet in front of you means that you cannot adjust your speed or gearing correctly.  Ultimately you will hit things that you should have seen coming but you were not looking far enough ahead.

Tying these ideals into a management philosophy seems pretty smart.  Namely:


  • Always tilt your head in the direction you want to go. Keep your vision where you need to and don’t lose sight of the important things coming up, but keep your team always moving in the direction you want to go.


  • When the next stage has an obstacle, don’t stare at it. Instead, look at your options and focus on the clearest path around it.  The obstacle will remain, but putting all your energy into getting around it is a better use of your teams’ efforts than slamming into it.


  • Stop looking at only next week for your work projects. Instead, concentrate on looking as far down the road as you can.  Navigate to the clear paths that will get you where you want to be a year from now.


Proper focus, direction and understanding of what steers you on a bike or in life makes both tasks more enjoyable and productive.

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