Friday, April 30, 2010

Trust......and the rutting season in Derbyshire....

This blog post has to start with a request for forgiveness. The ruts I referred to in my last post that I had ‘mastered’ were at best mere bumps in the mud! What a difference a day makes!

Yesterday we spent an amazing day with Boyd Emmerich at OTT in the Peak District - getting in some training for the Enduro Challenge next September.

About 20 minutes into the day I had fallen off my bike twice and also fractured the radiator on my Yamaha (well Boyd’s to be correct) - fortunately water wasn’t spraying everywhere. I think my first spill fractured it and my second spill sort of pushed it back - therefore meaning that I was able to continue to spend the whole day on the bike. Though I must admit I did have a flicker of a thought about sitting in Boyd’s garden with book, admiring the beautiful view with his cat! Despite the fact that I’d just bent his bike, Boyd was charming, concerned and encouraging to get me back on the bike even though he must have realised that at this stage my confidence was somewhere near ground level along with when I had said I didn’t have much bike experience - I had meant it!

I then had a run in with a hawthorn bush, when on descending a quite steep slope littered with loose stones, I spotted a fairly sizeable boulder and frankly just panicked – hence pulled in the clutch which made the bike run away, then grabbed the front brake which caused the front wheel to lock up and wash out (I’m told an understandable reaction!). Meantime I look like I’ve had a run in with a vicious cat - no plasters mind- otherwise I’d look like Adam Ant. My daughter, aged 7, sensibly commented on my return home, ‘Why didn’t you put your visor down or have your goggles on, Mummy?’ ……shortly followed by ‘ Did you cry” …..hmm - out of the mouths of babes - not sure why I didn’t have my visor down and yes I did cry, in my head!...…… However, as a result of my numerous spills, I have rigorously tested my body armour and borrowed kneepads in the field and realise that it would be utter folly to venture out without!

So, ruts – good grief - they looked more like little grand canyons when I first set eyes on them – thinking of Boyd’s garden and sitting with the cat again! Boyd mischievously talked of one group who referred to them as their own ‘road of bones’ a la the McGregor and Boorman Long Way Round trip - it is actually called the Road of Death – ‘fondly’ known as the ‘road of bones'!

These ruts were about a foot deep (30cm) and some of them had nasty great rocks at the bottom too – see pic. I was tempted - very tempted - at this stage to turn tail and head off for the nearest village and a coffee!
Boyd had given us a briefing on ruts earlier in the day – at the sight of said ruts - anything I may have taken on board had departed my head to be replaced by something between fear, panic and ‘what am I doing’! Now, I know from my work as an executive coach that self-belief and confidence is paramount especially in a tricky situation – be that anything from financial sector meltdown to an ill-performing team. So, trying to give audience to the little voice in my head saying ‘you can do this’ as opposed to the limiting voice saying ‘ are you mad, you can’t do that’, I then heard Boyd say ‘Come on, Kate, connect with that ‘inner core’. So, whilst looking ahead of where I was riding I connected with that piece inside all of us that knows we can do it and off I went.

Now, riding on ruts especially as a novice is no mean feat. Getting your bike along a rut where there is a few centimetres at best either side of the tyre, if you’re unbalanced and/or too fast it’s a bit like a marble in a bagatelle – pinging off the sides rather rapidly until at some point another spill or collision with whatever is nearby occurs! For those experienced riders, like Boyd, you’re up on the pegs, feeling the bike and getting your balance in tune and navigating with ease through them and looking ahead to the future. However, as a beginner - getting up on the pegs felt maybe a step too far - so as you still need to keep all your weight over the front forks you sort of have to throw yourself as far up the tank as you can and get your legs out to help balance (very elegant). It worked for me though - and of course let the bike do its job - get the bike into a low gear then try to avoid the clutch altogether, feathering the brake and using your balance in combination with the bike momentum and those great sticky knobbly tyres. Tell you what - having achieved those ruts - the feeling was something else! A little technique, balance, self–belief and of course great teacher and support group and off you go.

It had been occurring to me whilst riding that riding on tough terrain on an enduro bike is not dissimilar to trusting the people in your company to do their thing, generally, in tough times or in conflict rather than the old command and control philosophy which truly doesn’t bring out the best in anybody. I.e. – had I allowed my bike to do the thing that it does well rather than inflict my controls onto it - I more than likely wouldn’t have spilled quite so often? So often in my role as executive coach and facilitator it is enabling people to allow themselves and others to do things their way, the way that works best! When you engage the bike, allow the engine to brake for you on the steep inclines, stand up on the pegs, pick up a bit of speed and look to the horizon and where you’re going, it all comes together and feels great! A bit like when you’re managing your team or company really effectively. At one point there was a group of delightful and friendly walkers holding a gate open for us, the track through the gate was strewn with rubble, big stones and some boulders - mind over matter - belief kicked in - and even I realised that I might just have looked like a pro for those brief moments. (When everything comes together as a leader, engineer, bike rider, in a conversation - we get into what’s called ‘flow’ - at that particular moment - I was in ‘flow’). There’s hope yet!!

One couldn’t ask for more in a teacher and guide such as Boyd. Attentive, mischievous, gently pushing you further than you believe you are able. The Peak District is so beautiful and we were treated to some wonderful spring sights - little lambs, tiny calves, some yearlings galloping in a field was a sight to behold and of course that wonderful smell you get when you’re in the rugged outdoors.

Practice makes perfect and I need lots of that, but will be back to further the training. That’s not to say I still don’t think I may have bitten off more than I can chew. Everything that can ache, does ache and a client just yesterday commented that I didn’t have my customary high heels on – hmm - bit stiff - stilettos just won’t cut it for a day or so........

During the day I pinged a quick photo to my sister via my iphone - whilst Mr T was learning how to do turns (and doughnuts) I was having a little rest against a lovely old stone wall with awesome views. My nephews apparently think that Aunty Kate is now a Power Ranger (largely based upon orange and black gear, and helmet) and could take on the world – on that note when confidence is waning - I’ll remember that!

‘til next time……

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