“The zone is a positive mental state that happens when we know a skillset so well that we don’t have to think about what we’re doing,” explains our resident sports scientist Will Harrison. “It means we can instinctively react to the trail and our actions become effortless.” Not only can the zone make a ride more rewarding, as a result of increasing our satisfaction on the trail, but we’ll feel more comfortable on the bike and progress faster, too.
Getting into the zone
“It’s a balancing act to reach as it requires a number of factors to pull together at the right time,” says Will. Interestingly, the trail itself determines how long we can achieve the state for, if at all. That’s because the challenges a trail throws at us determine the type of skills we use on the bike.
Watch Brendan Fairclough shows you how to flow
“If skills are too easy, we’ll become bored, lose concentration and slip out of the zone,” adds Will. “On the other hand, if it’s a skill we haven’t mastered yet, we won’t be able to enter the zone as we’ll be consciously thinking about what we have to do next.”
Using the zone
Use skills we’ve mastered, but ones that will continue to challenge us. Without full concentration we’ll be preoccupied and won’t be able to react instinctively to achieve that feeling of being on autopilot. A clear structure when riding will provide us with the positive feedback we need to give us the satisfaction of doing a skill well. Don’t ride willy-nilly. Have a plan of attack!