ProVisions #1 - Are You Crazy?

Jan 18, 2013 at 0:09
Jan 18, 2013
by Ryan Leech  
 
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"Are you crazy? That’s insane!" People say this to me all the time, but I’m not crazy. Recently, I caught myself thinking the same thing about the top slopestyle riders, but I know better, they’re not crazy either. So what’s the deal?


Taking the perspective of another, or ‘walking in their shoes’ (in this case, ‘riding in a pro's shoes’), is not easy. When we see someone do something above and beyond our ability level, the tendency is to imagine ourselves doing the same stunt rather than imagining seeing the world through their eyes; it sounds simple, but takes practice.

Check out this clip from my film CRUX:

Views: 19,332    Faves: 65    Comments: 13


People often comment, “That’s impossible,” or “No way!” However, if you look-as me, then you’d get at least a small, imagined sense of what that chain looks like after well over 10,000 hours of balance practice, and then realize riding that chain is a real possibility and actually quite a logical thing to attempt.

As my teammate Sam Dueck said:


bigquotesThey would realize that I'm not crazy if they saw that I slowly worked my way up to bigger stunts by taking calculated risks and coming up with carefully thought out progressions. - Sam Dueck

I am amazed when watching slopestyle at just how skillful the pros are at crashing; it’s unbelievable. Right? Well, no, it is unbelievable only if you imagine yourself doing the stunt. If you look-as them, then you’ll see that it is actually quite believable. After all, they’ve crashed a zillion times on progressively bigger jumps, gaining the knowledge necessary to intimately know exactly where their bike and body are at all times, and to instantaneously know what to do if something goes wrong. The cool thing is that when I take their perspective, I experience a much higher level of respect for them as a human being.

Doing this perspective swap takes a little bit of the thrill away though, eh? Bike porn they call it, and just like real porn, the stars become objects for entertainment and pleasure, and people love it. Spectators cheer so they can continue their safe vicarious thrill. They want more and more, and that’s often okay, but doing so without first looking-as to discover what you’re encouraging the pros to do may be selfish and harming. Harming because pros often hear this as praise and thus succumb to this encouragement (I have been guilty of this), and when they do, they cross the line into crazy land.

Here’s what Gully had to say about navigating his own crazy line:


bigquotesNo, I am not crazy. I have been riding bikes since I was 12; I love everything about it. What your average Joe sees as crazy, I see as the natural progression of my ability on a bicycle. I have always been hungry to go faster, bigger and nastier and I am just going to keep going. Maybe I'm a little crazy... - Geoff Gulevich

And Darcy Turenne:


bigquotesI'm actually one of the more calculated and cautious people out there. Despite the 'lesser known' and uncomfortable destinations I travel to and the things I do on my bike, I never enter a situation where I'm not 99% sure that I'll be OK coming out of it. I've trained a long time to acquire skills and have a really good understanding of my limits and how I can push them. I think most people labelled as crazy are just misunderstood by the person labelling them. - Darcy Turenne

In our rapidly evolving sport the pros deserve respect, but because of mainstream influence it’ll become harder for them to distinguish porn-praise from respect-praise. So, as part of the core mountain biking scene, which if you’re reading this you’re likely part of, I see it as our job to inject enough depth into our culture to keep pace with the sport's mainstream recognition. How? Look-as another, take their perspective, and we will thus have more respectful care when designing slopestyle courses, announcing events, cheering, judging, making trick choices, and deciding who our role models are. So…

Spectators, add some looking-as perspective to your viewing pleasure. Developing this skill may also help you become more accurate in your own riding decisions, that goes for those who underestimate their abilities just as much as for those who overestimate.

Pro riders, be aware of when you’re being used for a cheap thrill. Ask yourself, "Is it worth it?" It’s just as useful for pros to take the perspective of spectators as it is for spectators to take the perspective of pros.

-Ryan

www.ryanleech.com

Ryan Leech is widely considered to be one of the most progressive and technically skilled mountain bikers in the world. Intimate with the benefits of yoga for a thriving pro career, he got certified to teach and thus began injecting a new generation of cyclists with the body mind intelligence necessary for long term optimal performance. As a Professional Integral Coach™, trained up to the International Coaching Federation’s master level, he works privately with professionals in the development of new competencies to navigate the most meaningful, but complex facets of life.
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65 Comments

  • + 95
 This is a great article , for all mountain bikers but I feel it's especially important for people who call us crazy and don't ride or don't let their kids ride because it looks dangerous. It's no where near as dangerous as some people make it seem , we work our way up to it like he said it the article , we don't just jump straight into 50 foot hucks and steep technical sections. They don't see what goes on behind the scenes. Yeh the sport has risk but as he said , it's calculated risk. Someone should find a website for walkers and post this so they know , we know what we're doing ....... Most of the time.
  • + 7
 Awesome article, it's nice to hear about the perspective of craziness from some one in the know, hopefully I can take something from this!
  • - 58
 Um.. Noone does 50 foot hucks Frown
  • + 44
 Bender did lol
  • + 36
 Are you forgetting the 60 footer at Crankworx last year? People were flipping that thing.
  • + 27
 Zink went 70ft when he overshot the canyon gap at rampage!
  • + 16
 In my book, a 50 huck means dropping 50 vertical feet. Those 60 and 70 footers that you guys are talking about are horizontal jump measurements, not the number of feet from top to bottom of a huck.
  • + 3
 Great article. @difler, I thought a huck was just a huge jump. I first heard the term used for trucks and buggy's making huge jumps at the dunes, which are usually more horizontal jumps rather than vertical drops. So I've associated it the same way in MTB.

It's kind of funny though to see the way that urban dictionary defines it, having just read this write up: "Huck: A term generally used in extreme sports referring to a large jump, often without knowledge or regard for the risk or consequences." Without knowledge or regard? Tell that to Bender!
  • + 11
 Crazy for me is never taking risks and live a boring life. Excellent post.
  • + 3
 It was just a figure of speech guys ........no need to argue about it.
  • + 2
 whenever anyone says last year, like @hoolydooly, i am never sure whether they mean 2012 or 2011. because last year was 2012, but still a ton of people mean 2011 when they say "last year". anyway, awesome post! they either call us crazy, or say "whats the big deal" whenver you show them POV footage
  • + 1
 I was definitely one who was blown away by the riding on a chain line when I first saw it. I had seen Ryan jump on and off chains before which was sick enough but, the length of the chain and more importantly getting off of it blew my mind. After watching Kranked 3 today and noting Ryan Leech with an old school grip shifter, I realised just how long he has been doing amazing things on a bike. It kind of puts it into perspective. I got that feeling of pressure put on Cam McCaul jumping the 50 ft Canyon gap at Rampage this year. Everyone has seen him superman, then back flip then tailwhip 30 foot canyon gaps in NWD 7, 8 and 9 respectively. I think he even did a cautious no hander over the same gap (different lip) in 2008. But to pull a big trick over an extra 20 feet is too big an ask and I thought his look left whip and the step down back flip were more than enough to finish a sick run that should have scored higher.
  • - 1
 Hucks in freeride are vertical measurements. Bender did a 55 ft huck, he never landed it though. I want to see some landed.
  • + 1
 Icon Sender at rampage is 50 down, 50 out
  • + 1
 No its not. Its 50 diagonal, so 30 down and 20 or so out. Do the math and work out the exact 'out' measurement if you like.
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  • + 29
 Well spoken as per usual Ryan Leech. So much respect.
  • + 3
 Ryan, thanks for being the real deal, and remaining true to your core throughout the years... or at least returning to it with some perspective. I've always appreciated the candor with which you talk, the readiness with which you listen and the intentionality you bring to life.

@xwason, I don't know if you're still in high school, but Ryan will be touring the West Coast in March with his Trials of Life tour (www.trialsoflife.com/home.php). Don't know if he will be going to AZ, but it would be worth contacting him and seeing if he could come do a presentation at your school. I've seen his presentation a few times, and he's coming to my school as part of this tour.
  • + 1
 I graduated last year, but thanks anyway, it would be definitely be amazing to hear Ryan's speech.
  • + 5
 Thanks for the kind words xwason and the school tour shout out, look forward to seeing you at your school!
  • + 1
 No problem Ryan. You are an inspiration Smile
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  • + 12
 I had a chat with my son only this morning on a related issue! I admitted it is sort of crazy to buy my first DH bike at the age of 40, but as Gully puts it: "the natural progression of my ability on a bicycle". And I also admit I'm a bit proud and love to see the faces of not-biking friends and colleagues.
  • + 8
 I wouldn't say its crazy taking up downhill at 40. A good friend of mine, Nick, took up downhill in his 40's and we raced all over the Uk for years. He's bloody good too, and it was good for his son in the long term coming out riding with us. Do a search on here for vids and pics for Josh Lane to see what I mean. Having a father into downhill was good encouragement and helped him learn his own natural progression. I say good for you. Downhill isn't just for youngsters. As for the general discussion... I think crazy is for people in padded cells nots sportsmen and women... Thats what we are remember. I have been called crazy by people for things I have done on a bike yet there are a lot of riders out there who do far more extreme things than I do. They aren't crazy they are just better than I am. Differing skill levels are important if we were all at the same skill level and everything we did was normal what would we strive towards.
  • + 8
 I am also in the same boat. I am 39 going on 40 and I have both my boys now 9 & 14 riding with me all the time. Dirt Jumping, Park & Downhill. We all started riding about 2 years ago. All my non riding friends say that I am too old, and or "crazy" for doing the things I do on a bike. I guess I am a little insane, but I am still alive and I wanna have fun. I think knitting is crazy but I'm not knocking them down because they do something so boring. And yes 2 years ago I never would have rode the stuff I do now, that would be "crazy". Next year should be even more crazy to my friends but that is progression. If you can't progress at something you should find something a little less "crazy" to do. With progression as stated you also learn how to crash gracefully ( Still working on that )
Go Big Go Hard or Just Go Home and Quit Bitching about What You can't Do!
  • + 7
 Great words guys ... in my mind the real insane is who spend his life doing nothing but working and collecting money .. it's crazy not to live the life we have ..
  • + 2
 Some of my closest riding buddies started at the age of 40 and they are killing it now, good on you for picking it up!! Makes me feel bad sometimes cause I've been riding for 9 years and these guys are right on my tail! It is fun to hear the non bikers say your crazy though. There's even some late 30,s xc guys that tell my 40 year old buddies they are crazy and they can't do that cause they are too old, I always laugh and say " really?, cause my 43 year old buddy just sent that 25 footer yesterday" hahah
  • + 2
 Totally agree. Used to ride off-road when I was younger - MTB and trials bikes and then no biking for years - got back into MTB about two years ago and loving it at 47 (DH and technical DH). Went to Whistler last year and a couple of trips planned this year - where I ride I am not the youngest rider by a fair stretch; I couldn't agree more with the sentiment about doing nothing being the crazy way of spending your life!!
  • + 1
 I saw a guy in his forties riding with his dad in his early sixties at the Goat Farm. It was awesome. The son was whipping every jump and his dad was jumping as well as me if not better. They were both on Norco A-Lines with full armour and neck braces. The dad had some MX racing experience from the 70's but, had just taken up riding with his son. I was thinking I was getting past it at 35 but, I'm never gonna stop now.
  • + 3
 Wow I thought I was a late starter at 22. I'm now 30 and just starting to rip it up tho. Liked the comment about crazy is working all the time saving money. I normally ride 6 days a week. Just rubbing it in.
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  • + 12
 Really great article here. I think this sort of thinking can be applied to a lot more than just mountain biking.
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  • + 5
 Completely agree with Ryan, but is also true that many pros or maybe their sponsors prefer to give an image of crazy people touched by god hands. It is unsual to see pros talking about the hiden work, road training, gym, diet, planned rest, full dates and the tremendous pressure to be on the top. At some point, me as many others, had to chose between a potencial profesional career in my favourite sport (MTB) and a normal life. Because of that, I respect pros in all their dimension and not only based in their last result, but I still think it is not smart when it is given the image of careless people doing very macho things, even if they have won the last Campage, Crankworx or DH race.
  • + 1
 I totally agree with you. It's a shame that sometimes sponsors want to hide the whole effort, planning and preparation that goes on "behind the scenes" because it doesn't look cool. At the end of the day professional freeriders, slopestyle riders etc are athletes and what athletes do is train and then train some more. Nobody becomes a pro just because he has skills. He has to work hard.
  • + 2
 To people that doesn't ride it may seem a crazy shit what we do, I know how much effort it takes when it comes to mountain biking, I still call a good edit "biking porn".
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  • + 8
 Leech continues to be a great ambassador for the sport again and again. Very well written. Props Ryan.
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  • + 3
 here in Brazil every body when see a DH competition, SlopeStyle or other Extremely sports, think that every body that practice it is crazy because of the high risk but like every body here know, Brazil is the Soccer Country and I See a lot of people hurt, injured and die in the Soccer and no boby say " Ohhh Soccers is Crazy People" I think that we have Luck because if we want to use, we have Very good Protection Equipaments in the market! for who want use "my case".
  • + 1
 That's because DH looks extreme while soccer can appear more "normal". Top level athletes at any sport push their bodies to the limit and this can sometimes be dangerous. In some sports it is evident while others apear tamer to an outsider/ spectator.
  • + 2
 When I had a fractured wrist I saw a guy with a full arm cast held upright by supports away from his body and asked him how he hurt himself. I expected FMX or something. He said playing basket ball.
  • + 1
 What's crazy or dangerous is not being aware or your ability, your limits and your environment. It can happen in any sport. Then of course there is luck. You can do all kinds of extreme sports and injure yourself by falling down the stairs in your house.
[Reply]
  • + 8
 Nice article Ryan!
  • + 3
 Thanks for contributing Sam!
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  • + 3
 This kind of thing happens in all walks of life. Its all about practice, and training, and working up to something until you hone the skills you need. I happen to do things like ride mountain bikes and snowboards and experience this every time I go out as my riding progresses. I just think back to a year or two ago and there were trails, jumps and stunts that I looked at and said, how? Now way thats crazy? But sure enough I've worked up to it and now they are second nature.

But its not limited to just sports. Everyone experiences this no matter what they chose to do in life even just at an every day day job. I think back to when I started working in the real world 10 years ago. I had no idea what I was doing. I'd look at my bosses and see how easily they just understood what was going on with the business around them while I was clueless. Sure enough, 10 years later, I'm in their position and the whole thing is second nature.
[Reply]
  • + 3
 There is certainly different levels of "crazy". When non-riders and even a bunch of non free riders see the local trails we ride and the 6-12 foot drops and hucks we do, they say we're crazy. But much like the pros, we've progressed to where we're at through years of riding. But progressed to where we're comfortable I see the stuff the pros do and sometimes think "crazy" but I know they got there through hard work. It's all perspective. Til you've walked, or ridden, in there shoes you really can't relate.
Those wingsuit flyers who scrape cliffs are friggin crazy though.
The worst drug I've ever done is smoke a little pot. I'd honestly do the Oakley sender before I'd do coke or smoke crack. That shit's crazy
[Reply]
  • + 2
 This article nails it. "You're crazy." or "I would never do that" are something we hear often. The thing is they're right to an extent in that they would never attempt it now but they might have if they grew up with a picture of Peaty on their wall.
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  • + 4
 I hate the way they make everything looks so easy! lol Just kidding, off course theres no crazy, just people that worked their ass A LOT to reach that level.
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  • + 2
 I'll tell ya what crazy is.. Crazy is the cocky arrogant people that hang shit on the young kid or older beginner rider for doing a small jump and being proud of it.. You know! A beginner posts a pic or video of a jump they did then a whole heap of people comment saying things like.."that's not a jump!, that's not big that's small, that's a crap jump dude, that was gay etc".. Those people are crazy because their uncalled for comments make an incompetent rider attempt a jump or trick that they are just not skilled enough to do and end up in hospital. Everyone starts out somewhere and yes, to a beginner a 2 meter jump seems big to them and in reality it is big for their skill level..

So before you make stupid uncalled for comments take a step back and remember that you were once that person too scared to jump the doubles and had to work your way up to the bigger jumps. If you've only ever jumped off a curb then yes, a 2 meter jump is a big achievement and worth being proud of.. Starting out small builds confidence. So when you do attempt a big drop or jump you know you have the skill, competence and confidence to achieve it..

So encourage the beginner rather than shooting them down for something they feel proud within themselves about.
[Reply]
  • + 2
 I would like to chime in here with my $0.2

worked my way up from skateboard and bmx in late 1970's and early 1980's, and then mountain bike, more skateboarding, bmx, jetski, rollerblade, scuba diving, more bmx and mountain biking including XC racing, then downhill racing and eventually freeride

did bmx, rollerblade and freeride at professional sponsored level, people always commented "you are crazy", but I always knew when to back off a stunt if it did not feel right, comes with experience. learned this from scuba diving where my dive master taught me to back out of a dive if it did not feel correct, even if sitting on the boat kitted up with diving buddy ready to roll into the water!

on the freeride bikes, threw down some huge stunts, like this one: gp1.pinkbike.org/p4pb342965/p4pb342965.jpg , yes I was scared but its good to be scared, if you are not scared you are either dumb or arrogant and either will get you seriously hurt or killed!

riding for Banshee Bikes and Da Kine, went all over the planet riding, jams / comps and magazine shoots. great times! but still the comments "you are crazy!".

not really, I knew my limits....much of the decision is confidence in your abilities and the skillset to adjust the bike in the air when things are not quite correct, and also the ability to ride out potentially horrible crashes
  • - 1
 I just thought I should let you know that we only wanted two of your cents, not 20 of them Wink But yea I totally agree. If you know where your limits are you can safely push them a little at a time, instead of just going out and letting it rip, which usually has very bad consequences.
[Reply]
  • + 2
 good writing and explanation to those out there who have never had the chance to experience those steps in sports (and other aspects of learning) themselves. And I also think that it's because of the crazyness of the sport itself that we do, we get more attention from spectators. Imagine everybody could just pull out a flip-whip or clear a 30ft+ gap on a dh-track.

... and who wants to be normal?...
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  • + 3
 You have a 'crazy' guy on a huge rampage line, a 'crazy' guy riding a chain, a 'crazy' guy doing a superman backflip, all quite extraordinary. You have a 'crazy' girl riding a small berm in the woods. DAMMIT RYAN.
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  • + 1
 I've rode and raced DH for 3 and a half years now and when i started i thought the stuff the quick guys were doing was crazy. Take the treeline jump at pitfichie, its a 6/7ft drop and the landing is just rocks and roots (farm1.staticflickr.com/33/45060144_c809de1073_z.jpg, that picture doesnt really do the landing roughness justice). I used to think anyone doing that was crazy, but now i do it on every run, and its fine 90% of the time, and now i get called crazy. Its all about perspective.
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  • + 1
 As a spectators here we must realize the show is going on for our entertainment. Without some of us buying "skull crushing and bone shattering" helmetless BMX/trial videos attitudes might change. Unfortunately people are pretty steeped in the dissociative violence/pain we see allover the net. Who cares if a pro hucks something way beyond mortal for your entertainment. He was free todo what he wanted right? I don't think so. Anyway, a good piece, none of us are gathering to see people slaughtered, but i'm not sure we're at the opposite end of things. Are we not entertained?

www.youtube.com/watch?v=FI1ylg4GKv8
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  • + 3
 Crazy is living your life with no purpose or passions. For us here, it's mtb. Crazy is playing it safe like you're going to have a better life the next time around.
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  • + 5
 skinnies, pffft. Try chains!
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  • + 1
 I'm sure the first guy that ate a bacon cheese burger was called crazy too. Chain ride...I saw it but stil don't beleive it. If a bacon cheese burger was not eatn would it still have been delicious? I think I must be hungry.
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  • + 0
 What the hell does crazy mean anyways? You have to be able to say f*ck it sometimes. You have to take risks to push yourself. Calculated or not the bigger the risk the bigger the reward.Adrenaline junkies get a much bigger reward then normal people. People that would say the rush isnt worth any risk. Some live for the rush and will risk alot because its worth it to them. As for me 70% sure is all it takes if the rush and sence of pride I will feel is great enough.

One rider doesnt speak for everyone. Some of those pros are f*cking crazy adrenaline junkies
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  • + 2
 great rticle. way to shed some light
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  • + 1
 Such a Great Article, glad someone has shone some light on the perspectives of professional athletes.
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  • + 1
 If only my parents wouldthink this way more often
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  • + 0
 Let's see some new videos instead of recycling old videos, Ryan. Recycle plastic bottles, not videos.
  • + 1
 Haha, here are some thoughts I shared a few days ago on my blog about this topic: www.ryanleech.com/2013/01/16/off-season-creativity
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  • + 1
 sick shit.. respect"!
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  • + 1
 Darcy Turenne......lol
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