When attorney Greg Bishop moved to Park City in 2009, he had never ridden a mountain bike before. Soon afterward he purchased his first bike, but he rode infrequently for the first few years. However, in the Spring of 2018, he began riding almost daily with his wife. Since then, they have been lucky enough to ride in some very beautiful places: Park City, Utah; Sedona, Arizona; Telluride, Colorado; and Sun Valley, Idaho, among others.
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While Mr. Bishop doesn’t pretend to be an expert, mountain biking has taught him some important lessons. He explains that the relationship among direction, momentum, and balance is key on a mountain bike. The connection is most apparent when making a 180° turn on an uphill switchback, which requires enough momentum to maintain balance, but not so much that you cannot negotiate the tight turn.
As illogical as it may seem, mountain biking requires that you keep both the big picture and the details firmly in mind at all times. Seeing the overall view not only lets you appreciate the beauty around you, but it also helps you anticipate what adjustments in direction or momentum may be necessary. Similarly, focusing on the details enables you to avoid any immediate barriers. There is literally no end to the types of obstructions you might encounter while mountain biking – fallen trees, protruding roots, powdery sand, narrow single-track, steep cliffs, loose rocks, tight switchbacks, low branches, and wild animals to name a few. The key to maintaining direction is to keep your eyes well down the path and use your peripheral vision to avoid immediate threats.
2019 © Not Your Parents Retirement, LLC
Momentum means moving in your planned direction. Unlike many other sports, mountain biking allows you to keep your cadence fairly constant, using smaller or larger gears depending on whether that part of the trail is flat, uphill or downhill. Momentum also allows you to power over most barriers. If you don’t have enough momentum, an otherwise insignificant obstruction will bring you to a dead stop, particularly if you are in a climb. Ironically, too much momentum can also cause a loss of direction or balance. The key to momentum is finding the sweet spot – moving fast enough to power over the problems, but not so fast that you lose control.
Balance keeps you upright when the center of gravity shifts beneath you as you ride. While most of us are familiar with the left-right balance of riding a bike, there two other axes of balance: front-back and high-low. Front-back balance comes into play in steep inclines and declines, where you need to get out over your handlebars in a climb or move toward the back of your seat when you’re bombing down a trail. Similarly, high-low balance (which requires using a hydraulic seat post that can be raised and lowered on the fly) lets you sit high in a climb (allowing you to get full leg extension) and low in a steep descent (allowing you to get your center of gravity lower). Properly balancing your body on the bike is also important, requiring you to engage your core muscles so that your body weight is properly distributed across the three points of contact with your bike – your handlebars, pedals, and seat. For example, leaning straight-armed on your handlebars (rather than engaging your core) will fatigue your neck and shoulders, as well as make it more difficult to turn quickly (since you will be using your shoulders to turn your handlebars rather than your hands).
Retirement – It’s Like Riding a Bike
While direction, momentum, and balance are important when riding a mountain bike, Greg Bishop suggests that they are even more important as you move into retirement. Before you retire, your life’s direction is largely dictated by what you do for a living. Where you live, who you associate with, how you spend your time, and when you take vacation, are all primarily determined by your employment. In contrast, after you retire – when you are no longer dancing to someone else’s music – you are able (perhaps for the first time) to determine your own direction. While the prospect can be daunting, it is worthy of careful reflection, both before you retire and after.
But deciding on your life’s direction in retirement is not enough – you must also take enough action to generate momentum. As on a mountain bike, maintaining a consistent cadence will be important, gearing up or down depending on how easy or difficult things are at the moment. Moreover, your momentum needs to be fast enough to power over the inevitable problems, but not so fast that you lose control.
Finally, while direction and momentum are important, together they are still insufficient – you must also maintain balance. Like mountain biking, proper balance requires that you stay centered, and that engage your core.
About: Greg Bishop is an attorney with extensive experience in litigation, corporate work, M&A, licensing, IPO preparation, and HR, as well as corporate and board governance. Personally, he is passionate about helping others, including spending seven years working closely with the largest organization helping the homeless in Washington, D.C. In his free time, he enjoys the outdoors, mountain biking and traveling, as well as helping others achieve personal and professional success.
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