I'm not sure why I feel this way because there are too many variables; but my skills riding in the last week just took an up-tick. Perhaps I was stuck on a plateau for a long time. Perhaps the summer heat which just abated in the last 10 days was holding back my strength and thus robbing me of any additional coordination and balance. Or perhaps it was because I decided to start riding all my favorite trails in reverse.
After a few days off the saddle for a nostalgic return to my youthful indiscretions, I hopped back on right after taking Marble to the airport. I could not help but think how sad it was for him to be sitting in a can while I was out enjoying 72 degree weather, full sun and some singletrack all to my self. Something came over me....I went left, instead of right at the first intersection. Before I knew it, I was flowing along a piece of trail I've done hundreds of times; only in the opposite direction. It wasn't completely familiar like driving over the same ole', same ole'; but there was enough difference for me to find a new appreciation in what I knew to be coming. Only this time, I found some new problems which I had previously sailed over heading the other way, not giving a second thought to them after the ump-teenth time riding them.
One of the rock gardens which I normally sail over going downhill became a very tricky puzzle heading up; challenging me to ratchet my crank in just the right spots to avoid hitting ground. I just love those kinds of finesse problems...challenging me to clean it. I usually give a problem like this a few tries and move on if I don't make it the first time; assuring myself that it will leave me something to work on next time.
The flowwy sections were interesting too....railing along bermed turns in the opposite direction made me feel more confident in my tracking skills. This to me is so counter-intuitive, it begs examination. You would think that the same bermed turn I've done a hundred times in one direction would see me riding the optimum path, full of confidence. However the 1st time out on one set of linked berms in the opposite direction left me feeling like I was one with my bike....hardly something I would expect from something new and slightly unknown.
The effect has been astounding. My confidence level has soared, I feel much improved from just one week ago and now the same trails taken in the direction I normally link them into, feel much more....linked. Whether I use the same direction or reverse it; for 3 days now I've gone out and tried different combination's and I get the same feeling. I feel like I've finally hit the sweet-spot between me and my bike. Pumping the rises and dips intuitively, using the momentum-flop of the front wheel to my advantage during a stalling switchback turn...it's all good these days.
This has left me with an increased desire, trouble sleeping and a giddiness for tomorrows ride which I have not had in a long time. I'm not sure how I'll feel tomorrow during my next ride, but I'm sure I'll like it.