Getting alarmed over a word - and the word is "Focus."

Dear Reader,

Muddy is getting a little annoyed over a little word; a word that has been creeping into the mountain biking language over the past few months in 2013. That word is "Focus" and I don't quite like it. The magazines started it, harmlessly saying that to keep motivated when riding, you need a goal to aim for. Now this is all well and good, and I can't argue against keeping motivated. Get fitter, learn new skills or lose a little body mass, find new mates even. But the word has now crept into my weekly ride and I don't like it one bit. It's just another stick to hit yourself with, more self flagellation. AD used it at the start of the summer, and I thought nothing of it. But now the word is being used openly in magazines and on the internet as a ride agenda in and of itself; we need to maintain focus, we need to go out, we need to hit our targets. So now a ride is some kind of middle management team meeting agenda is it? "We need to focus on our core skills so our ride on Sunday will consist of...."

For a short few months I got caught up in it. My rides had a central feature, something I needed to do. Practice my poor manuals? Do 30 miles minimum? Learn a new body position? All fair and good but it got to the stage where each ride had to have an agenda otherwise I'd feel bad about not achieving, and the ride would be bad. I'd do 29 miles, fail to adopt a new radical posture or do yet another miserable manual. What a crap ride. Huh. That ride lacked focus.

What utter cock. What's wrong with just going out for a ride for the fun of riding? The pure pleasure of being out and about in the country, alone or with your mates. On Saturday night I just went out. No agenda, no need to do anything. I wasn't cracking on in the 75% zone, I wasn't trying to be rad or find gnar or impress anybody with ride stats. Within ten minutes a Spitfire flew over head. Didn't see much of it but the pure sound set me off into happy land, and the ride followed suit. Passed pubs grasping at the last clutches of summer, with open air BBQ's and music. Chips shops with doors open and the lovely smell of condiments. Rabbit eyes caught in my headlights. And when I stopped in the middle of the woods for a wee, turning my lights off left utter darkness. My ride lacked any focus whatsoever but was utterly brilliant for it.

So the next time your mates suggest a ride focus, when they mentally get the middle management flip charts out, stop high fiving them and ask instead can you just go for a ride and see what happens?