The Psychologist Csikszentmihalyi describes flow as an exhilarating feeling of transcendence.
You trust your skills and ride intuitively without worry or doubt; resulting in feelings of joy and effortlessness.
Flow is the ultimate performance state where you feel and perform at your best.
To achieve flow a person’s body or mind need to be stretched in a voluntary effort to accomplish something difficult and worthwhile.
Flow appears between boredom and anxiety in what scientists call the flow channel – the spot where the task is hard enough to make us stretch but not too difficult enough to make us snap.
You don’t need to be the best rider in the world to experience flow but you do need to overcome challenges to achieve a sense of mastery in your riding.
The coach’s job is to guide the rider through this flow path, balancing out the challenge to skill ratio.
If the challenge is too low you won’t achieve flow.
You will also not increase your skill and you will stay in your comfort zone.
If the challenge is too high, you will make mistakes, be inconsistent and at a higher risk of crashing.
The trick is to ride slightly outside your comfort zone, increasing your challenge in 5% steps.
Then practice riding at this new level until it becomes intuitive.
This could be increasing your braking performance, leaning the bike over further than you have done before, lifting your eyes to improve vision or increasing your precision and consistency.
Your skill level has now gone up by 5%.
Everyone is different and some riders improve quicker than others, but a good coach can help you find your unique access points into flow which helps play to your strengths also creating more fun with your riding.
So stop spending large on the bling and go faster bits, when the biggest performance gains come from investing in the spacer, you know, the one between the handlebars and seat.