Ryan Leech and the cons of being pro

So much wisdom in this nsmb.com story by Ryan Leech. I swear an entire essay can be written about each paragraph. Brilliant illustrations too.

Check out Ryan Leech and the Cons of Being Pro.

Even if you’re not a pro rider, you might identify with some of the struggles Leech talks about. I sure do.

8 replies
  1. tony says:

    the sad (scary) thing is so much of what pros do to be at that level is trickling down to youth sports. Year round club athletics, showcase leagues and tournaments, specialized coaching, clinics, strength and conditioning. IT’s becoming a business, and I admit I’m part of the problem (as a HS Strength and Conditioning Coach). But, as adults in influential positions, like Ryan, like you, Lee, and speaking for myself, we all have the power and obligation to keep the Fun in Fundamentals, to keep the young athletes focused on the purity and intrinsic rewards of playing the sport, of training for training’s sake and for developing all of our gifts, not just the athletic talents.

    It sounds corny, but when I tell my athletes “good luck” on game day, I always add on “Have fun”. And I was a football coach for 9 years…go figure!

  2. Agleck7 says:

    Such a great article. The article and the comments both really made me reflect on why I ride and to be a little more frank with myself about why I ride and risk-taking. Am I trying to learn to hit bigger stuff for the acheivement and challenge or the rush of overcoming a risk? What aspects of riding are oriented around skill-building and challenge and what are mainly an adrenaline rush? It’s a really good reminder to think about that stuff and to continually evaluate for myself the appropriate (for me) level of risk-taking.

    Lee – I’d love to hear your take on how you evaluate risk-taking in your riding?

    Thanks, Lee (love the site and books).

  3. leelikesbikes says:

    >> Lee – I’d love to hear your take on how you evaluate risk-taking in your riding?

    That’s worth a thoughtful post, but quickly:

    I used to take tons of risks. If I wanted to — *needed* to from a psychological standpoint — do something, I went for it and let the dice roll. The win, or any other accomplishment, carried so much power the cost didn’t matter. Right now my shoulders really hurt. I messed them up at a time when that Cat 1 title meant more than anything. Funny in a tragic way.

    Nowadays, I don’t feel like I take risks. There is no upside to going faster/bigger/crazier, but there is huge potential downside. I mean, I feed six humans with this body and brain. To some people it looks like I pin it hard and do risky things, but I try to be internally focused. That means concentrating on technique, smoothness and flow. The funny thing is at 43 I’m riding better than ever — and it feels awesome because I’m making my decisions based on internal factors: If everything feels right — no matter the speed or size — I go for it. There is no fear, and it feels beautiful. If it doesn’t feel right, I pass. No big deal.

    I try to teach this to my skills students. Focus on internal goals. Execute your skills. Engage with the trail. Have fun! As long as you’re operating in that space, everything will feel right. I just raced Sea Otter slalom in that space, and I made the final against a field of very good riders (some of whom used to be my heroes). I was not afraid, and it felt beautiful.

  4. John K. says:

    Lee, I loved that last comment. At 38, I feel the same way – there are absolutely no upsides to going bigger/faster/crazier. But, there is huge upside to working on the fundamentals, and thereby increasing control and flow.

    Would be interesting to write a longer post on this, I bet it would generate a lot of discussion, especially from us older riders!

  5. Agleck7 says:

    Thanks, Lee. That seems like a really good way to approach it. Looking forward to a dedicated post if it happens 😉

  6. Mike says:

    I can also sympathise with some of what Ryan has to say in the article.
    I trained hard to compete at the 2006 UCI World Champs in Rotorua, NZ, in Trials. I didn’t really enjoy any of the competition because I felt by that stage that I wasn’t enjoying riding. (Internally focused for the wrong reasons)
    It became riding for the sake of learning how my body felt through each move and trying to get strong and fit enough to handle the sections length and size (BIIIG riding for me at the time). Also, some of the risks gave me internal flutters, something that I thought I had trained out of myself.
    Fast forward 6 years and I now ride purely for the thrill of feeling good on the bike (read: Flow and good internal focus). Riding well within my limits feels more comfortable and therefore more fun. I also ride faster because of it.
    I don’t feel like I need to take risks anymore to get the buzz. Having friends around to share the moment has replaced that need to conquer terrain and obstacles.
    I like this comment, very good advice;
    If everything feels right—no matter the speed or size—I go for it. There is no fear, and it feels beautiful. If it doesn’t feel right, I pass. No big deal.

    This article hit the spot Lee, thanks for sharing.

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