Superstar trials rider Ryan Leech recently underwent certification to become an Integral Master Coach, a process he says saved his relationship with riding because of the deep personal work involved. “I was on a riding burnout trajectory, quickly losing my love of bikes due to the demands of a pro-riding career,” he says. “What a loss that would have been for me!”
We agree. No matter your riding style or level, it can be tough to keep your training dialed at all times. That’s why we asked Leech to share what helps keep him on track with his riding. Here are his suggestions regarding things to do before every ride (and a few to do after) that will help keep the experience fun, safe, and rewarding for the long haul.
“Making sure my bike is in optimal working condition is a ritual before every ride.” Leech says. “If I have any doubts about the durability or functionality of my bike, it will affect my confidence and thus my performance.” Here’s how to keep those doubts at bay.
Before every ride, check:
– Tire pressure. All tires leak air over time. Pump your tires before every ride.
– Brake feel at the lever. A couple squeezes at the lever and a glance at the brake pads can alert you to sticky cables that need changing, spongy brakes that need bleeding, or worn pads that need to be replaced.
– Shifter feel during gear changes. Quickly run through the gears to check for skipping or other signs of derailleur alignment issues.
After every ride:
– Clean and lube the chain. This removes any grime from your ride and preps the chain for your next one.
– Note performance issues. Keep track of pops, squeaks, clicks, or missed shifts during the ride, and check things out afterward. If you aren’t sure how to fix a mechanical issue, head to the shop. Riding a bike that isn’t performing well will only set you up for frustration.
For Your Body:
“Technology can provide plenty of data about how your body is doing pre-ride,” Leech says, “but don’t discount your instincts and intuitions.”
– Know your stress level. Lack of sleep, work stress, relationship issues, and the like can all sap your energy. Be self-aware and acknowledge how you feel before you ride, so you accept possible limitations.
– Accept your strength. If you’ve been riding well and feeling strong, acknowledge it (and enjoy it!) before the ride. And then, during the ride, make sure you aren’t overtraining or pushing too hard, which can knock you down from that awesome state.
For Your Mind:
“It’s important to set an intention for every ride,” Leech says. “But you need to know that there’s a difference between a habitual, assumed intention for the ride and a more nuanced, in-the-moment intention.”
-Bring it all together. It takes only seconds to purposefully think through the current state of your bike, your body, and your mind, which will let you set your intention—how you’ll ride and what you’ll get out of it—for what you’re about to do. “This creates a far more enriching riding experience,” Leech says.