You might have noticed there's been less writing, as of late. On the other hand, there's been more riding.
My friend P-dawg introduced me to the concept of "The Progression." Back when I got to know and love him he was a skater/snowboarder in his early 30's teaching the groms of the Aspen Valley how to pull 3 disaters on the skate in the summer, clean 7's on the board in the winter. He continued his progression by building a belt full of tools that has made him a successful conservationist, educator, parent and partner. Today, he's a school teacher, surfer and product rep. He constantly emphasizes the importance of The Progression.
The Progression is the source of inspiration in BMX (Ryan Guettler, Great Quotes:
"He (Ryan's son) might just want a freecoaster and go backwards everywhere and that's Okay" & "I hope to be ride until I'm 40-45 years old"),
Bob, "The Man" Burnquist is big on The Progression.
(Great Quotes: "I thought, you know, you could just fall off of bed and be riding vert. " "Flying off the 70 footer is really scary")
And this from mtb trials Zen master Ryan Leech:
This snowboard coach posits that the following are supportive of rider development; The Progression:
1. Develop a training environment where high hopes and expectations are over-shadowed by positivity, support and focus on the activity at hand.
2. A rider should try and make a habit of appreciating goals reached and positive feedback from coaches and peers. On the flip-side, it is important for a rider not to worry to much, and to let go of the external pressures from coaches, parents, peers or others that can create negative feelings and self doubt.
3. Encourage group interaction and group support of each others efforts. A rider can get a lot of positive motivation and internal drive from friendly competition with friends and peers.
4. Identify the riders strengths and weaknesses in terms of skill base. Like which way do they spin easier or do we need to spend more time practicing riding switch before trying 180's or 540's.
5. Routinely practice the skills where the rider is uncomfortable. Set easy goals to build confidence and hopefully emerge from the "that feels weird zone", thereby opening up a new line of progression.
6. When the rider is fired up, feeling confident and having fun, push the progression lines where the rider is comfortable for maximum gains
7. Encourage visualization every step of the way. Practicing tricks in the mind builds confidence on the snow.
Before P-Dawg, I knew a guy named Dave who lived in the Capitol Hill neighborhood of Denver. He was emblematic of the gritty, unpretentious, party-hard Denver (post) punk scene of the late 80's/early 90's. Although Dave was often dealt a poor hand (kicked out of the band, unemployed, loveless), he always had a smile on his face and was quick to encourage whatever gave you hope. I asked Dave how he maintained his hopeful, fun-embracing outlook. He said "Well whenever you get down about a situation, just draw a hotrod":
your happy place.
As has been noted, fall is when we ride, as we are healed, fit and ready; low-angle light and cool temperatures create magic. Combining the former "Progression" and "happy place" principals, with a desperate bid to make the season last, we added a few more Commandments in our exploration of the tenets of the Church of the Progression:
8th Commandment: SUPPLY A TWELVE OF YEWTAH PBR FOR EVERY 3 PROGRESSION SEEKERS, WHICH WILL LEAVE THEM SLIGHTLY THIRSTY BUT, UNINJURED.
9th Commandment: BUILD A STEP-UP WITH A SOFT LANDING.
10th Commandment: SEND IT!
This fall, with few opportunities left, Tyson, Mo, Dirty, and Broniel have been an inspiration and motivation. Tyson put in the most time, building the lip while I stacked the 12 strawbales and piled on woodchips.
Tyson and I had a high jump "contest":
Flatness begets height(click to see the bb ser. #):
Tyson and I are different riders in relation to The Progression. For Tyson, it is almost purely a head game, as all the skills and ambition are already present and available. Tyson rarely crashes. It took Tyson 20 incremental attempts to get a tire grab, first, landing 15 big whips, he didn't even move a hand off the bar; just thinkin' about it, then this sick grab three runs later:
Tyson nailed truly fastplants, as the light was fading quickly:
Fahzure, on the other hand, was quick to throw anything (sometimes unsuccessfully); no-footers, crankflips and toboggans came almost as fast as they could be called out:
Nothings (aka no-no; no-hander/no-footer), too:
And, in serious Progression mode, a clean 3, on the last day, after 20+ disastrous attempts:
With the highs expected to be in the 30's or lower for the next two and a half months the Ghetto Foam Pit is done for 2011. Hey Ryan Guettler, I may be over the hill, to you, but, I can't wait for spring, to continue The Progression. Best jump ever.