The perfect flow

Marcus Farley learns how to be a smooth operator

You'll know when you've found your flow.

Flow is synonymous with mountain biking now. Steve Worland summed it up brilliantly when he described the perfect flow as “hovering above the ground.” But for me, as a novice in this ‘hover’ craft, it’s something that I only achieve periodically.


Recently, the Yeti and I made the mistake of doing a rainy descent from Limer’s Gate (brilliant in dry weather, yet a quagmire in any other conditions) and, unsurprisingly, my flow in the mud was like treacle in winter.

Sat at the bottom of the descent, I initially came to the conclusion that it was fair enough that my flow had been so bad,because the mud was wetter than I’d ever seen it before. That was until I saw two riders gliding down the same descent like Fred and Ginger, pumping and floating through the terrain where I had been so readily swamped and sunk.  

I was so disappointed by my lack of skill, I felt like giving up mountain biking for good.  But then I realized that I could turn my negative feelings in to positive ones. So, rather than admitting defeat, I vowed that these riders would give me the inspiration to carry on trying to flow better. Even if I only managed to emulate them for part of a descent, it would still be better than never doing so at all.             

In fact, on my last singletrack downhill outing, the flow sometimes came together brilliantly – perfectly balanced over the surface of the trail like a bullet train. My pushing down (pumping) on the trail and lifting up from it (floating) were like two perfectly balanced opposing magnetic forces holding me in place.  

Ok, so this ability lasted for mere seconds at a time.  But when it happened, it was so much better than my previously hoped for dream of descending as if on rails!


Learn how to go with the flow.