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Podcast: Michael Sousa shares the mantra behind his success on the bike and as a coach in Whistler

On today's episode, we have Michael Sousa. Mike is a passionate Mountain Biker, Instructor, Guide, and Filmmaker based in Whistler, BC.

I've been a fan of Mike's Mountain Biking Mantra, BREATHE, TRUST, COMMIT, for a while now, and it was an absolute blast to spend a morning with him recently. I got to see Mike's mental approach firsthand as he towed me into some classic gap jumps here in Squamish.

We then sat down for an epic conversation digging deep into the process behind this mantra, and much much more.

After almost 20 years of honing his skills on the steep and technical trails of BC he has dedicated the summer to learning air tricks on his mountain bike. As well as this personal exploration, Mike recently gained his Level 3 PMBIA coaching qualification which for those that aren’t aware, is the gold standard of Instructor training and no easy feat.

He has also been part of numerous Filmmaking projects, perhaps most notable are the Dirt Diaries and VIMFF films in which he has featured as both an actor in front of the lens and a filmmaker capturing the action.

You can follow Mike's adventures on Instagram @msoosa.mtb, YouTube @michaelsousacinema and check out his coaching and film projects on his website

Listen here or by searching for ‘Grit with Wisdom’ on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Youtube, or over on my website, and you can follow me on Instagram @the_mind_mountain

Happy trails - Jake Johnstone

Full Episode Transcript: Michael Sousa

[00:00:00] Welcome to Grit With Wisdom. This is the podcast that delves deep into the inner psyche of mountain bikers from all aspects of our sport in order to discover the tools and the tactics that can help us have more fun out on the trails more often. Our aim here is to help you understand what it takes to push our own personal boundaries in the sport we love, from a mental and emotional perspective.

today on the podcast, I'm sitting down post ride here in Squamish with Michael Sousa. Many of you local listeners may recognize the name as Mike Executive in the Whistler and Greater Cedar Sky communities as a stoked mountain biker, instructor, a guide, a filmmaker, and then many other talents [00:01:00] as well.

I'm super excited to have him here today. Because after almost 20 years of honing his mountain biking skills on the steep, deep, technical trails of Whistler, he's dedicated this past summer to learning tricks in the air on a mountain bike. And as adults, I'm sure this is something we can all agree on.

This takes a certain amount of courage and self will. As well as this recent personal exploration, Mike recently gained his level 3 PMBIA coaching qualification, which for those who aren't aware, is kind of like the gold standard of instructor training and no easy feat. So loads of personal and professional development of late, and I can't wait to unpack the mindset behind that.

Welcome to the show. Hey

man, glad to be here. I'm still grateful for the opportunity.

No, it's awesome to have you here. We've just been out for a fantastic ride here in Squamish, We rode a bit of everything. We've got some gap jumps, some skinnies. It was

pretty full on. It was cool to like come [00:02:00] back to some of those trails that I, when I would ride Squamish more often and um, that I remember from back in the day and the kind of like modern.

But they're still there, like, those kind of gap lines that I like to ride and, uh, haven't done them in a while. And then, like, throwing in a few mix, like, did some berms, some, some burly steep rocky stuff. It was great. It was a good time.

Yeah, man. It was so cool. Just, yeah, like, getting to hang out and get a bit of a sense of, like, how you operate, like.

Yeah. Kind of threw you in the deep end there and said, Hey, can you go first? I'm going to film this. You haven't ridden these trails in years, but it was really cool to see, like, even, yeah, just that honed in process of like, okay, we're gonna, we're going to send it a little bit here, but we still, you know, we still looked at things, we broke it down.

No, I was glad you're up for it. That's the first time we're riding. Right. But I was kind of like, Oh, like, you know, if you're asking me what I like, go like, I'd like to come back to these. It also gives me a good excuse to like. It's quite often I'll want to ride stuff like that, but also, I'm not someone who really likes to ride alone that often.

Like, it doesn't happen very often. I like to, like, have people around, keep the stoke up and stuff. But, I'm not going to push somebody to ride something they don't want to [00:03:00] ride. So I was kind of like, I'll throw it out there, and then if you want to do something more like slabby, let's do that. So I was stoked when you wanted to do that, I was

like, yeah, let's do it.

Well man, it was perfect, because you know I've hit some of those jumps before, but not all of them. Yeah, it was great. I'm going to have Mike tow me down some of these jumps today, which you did a fantastic job of. Hey look, I think it would be really cool to start here, uh, for some of the listeners that haven't already met you out on the trails.

Maybe you can just tell us a little bit about kind of where you grew up, and when bikes first came into your life.

Uh, yeah, sure. I guess, uh, Like I was saying to you before where I'm kind of a bit of the typical whistler story where you come out for like a Ski season and you just never find yourself going home.

Home was Toronto and I grew up pretty much in the heart of the city is pretty dense like, you know Skyscrapers all around kind of thing. And so I grew up skateboarding before any of this bike stuff There wasn't really any much much for trails or anything like that And it was kind of outside of what I even knew existed, but then it was through skateboarding That I discovered snowboarding, and then it was, [00:04:00] uh, in snowboarding I moved to the local ski hill at home And it was around there where I figured out I mean I had mountain bike before this move But like just kind of tinkered like through the trees on some department store kind of you know that much travel Maybe on the front and hard to on the back, but I wouldn't really mountain bike No jumps or none of that kind of stuff And then it was after living on the ski resort and doing a snowboarding thing over there Where I was kind of like, okay, there's this summer thing they do with the mountain bike trails and stuff, like I'll bring in the woods on my bike and try that a bit, um, and then kind of picked it up in the city looking for the trails that did exist, discovered there was some trail system, there were mountain bikers in the city, um, but it was pretty minimal, um, and I was kind of drawn towards the, pretty quickly kind of got bored of the, I guess it was very like up and down cross country kind of single tracking stuff.

And I wanted that same thrill of like flying through the air, going fast, turns, and stuff like I would get with a snowboard. And so I found myself looking for that kind of feature stuff, [00:05:00] finding skinnies. Like anything elevated, made of woodwork, was the only thing that was like features on our trails in the city.

And like, uh, jumps. The jumps were kind of dirt jumps, and I had no idea how to jump that. With a mountain bike that was like, again, from like a department store or whatever, like a Walmart kind of bike. And just goofing around there. Um, that's how I kind of got into it, but didn't really get into it till I moved here.

I moved here in 2007, um, chasing snowboarding and then the mountain biking was just a natural thing. I had tinkered with it in the city. I had already seen like videos and stuff of what mountain biking was here. So it was only natural that like, as soon as I decided I was going to stay past that winter season, I'm going to pick up a mountain bike and.

Yeah, it's been that time ever since.

Yeah, dude, that must have been a fantastic moment, kind of being like, you know, after, you know, trying it out in the city and kind of doing it now living in Whistler and just being immersed in snowboarding and mountain

biking culture. Yeah, it really was a trip. I mean, it almost kind of sounds [00:06:00] even cliché to say, but like, it is that, like.

You get a sense of what it is on camera, right? This is like, you know, back in like drop in TV days and it's like VHS tapes. You know, the, for those of you who don't know, drop in TV is some old, like, you should know. NWD, New World Disorder, like the drop in TV. Those were the kind of the videos that were out and popular.

This was like, you know, early 2000s was when I was discovering mountain biking. Mid 2000s moon out here. And, uh, yeah, like that kind of stuff, that kind of scene, it was very, like, free ride, very, like, similar to, like, the whole punk rock thing. Like, oh, you know, you're, you had your own little community outside of the norm stuff.

Like, that was the appeal. Like, that's kind of the same thing that drew me to skateboarding and snowboarding was, like, living in a city was just too, like, hustle bustle and this and that. And it was such a nice space [00:07:00] to be. So yeah, the mountain biking at that time felt very like rock and roll. It was young.

It was wild. People hucking themselves off stuff. And while I was still very much in, like, the early stages, I wasn't exactly there, the desire to want that was there. And I remember, like, kicking my feet off down A line and doing no footers, like, pretty early on and stuff. You know, it was like, if I try and find photos of that stuff, it looks so goofball.

And it's like, all the wrong techniques. And, like, landing on the seat with your feet blown off on these, like, bikes with just all the T Rex bars. All the old, you know, attributes of old school. But it was such a time, man. It's a very different whistler that exists today, but it's uh, it was cool. It was rad.

Oh man, that sounds like such a time. Back then, like, what was the first thing that kind of grabbed you, or what was your why to, like, really wanting to mountain bike and wanting to be part of that scene?

Um, I think

it was that, that I was kind of touching on. It's like, the, I didn't feel like team sports or [00:08:00] any kind of, like, organized, uh, recreational stuff that was more team. It didn't really feel... All that, uh, inviting in the same way. Like, I mean, growing up, I'll play, I tried, you know, school you do, you're on the soccer team or baseball team, typical stuff, whatever, growing up, none of them were really like something where it was like, you know, going to soccer practice.

I did like some hockey, a little bit like street hockey, not like ice hockey, all that stuff just felt like. You know, it's what you do as a kid, but none of them, I was like, Oh yeah. Like, can we go again? You know, like when we're not doing, it was kind of just like, ah, like it's the day for that. And it was, you know, I had friends doing that stuff and it was cool.

But the thing that like the same with the skateboard and the snowboarding and what eventually led to the mountain biking, any one of those, it's like when things don't work out or in the process of like learning things and getting better or getting a new places with your mountain bike in this case, or skis or snowboard or whatever you like, if, if, if in that process.

You can't quite get there. You're finding challenges. Like [00:09:00] there's no one to kind of Blame like that's something that stuck out with me and I really liked like I didn't like in the team sports It was especially when you're young. I kind of like pass the ball or like some of that stuff You're like bros right there.

I'm open. I'm like that kind of stuff. You can't do that like it's all and so I think there was like a discipline that comes through that and Respect for the learning process and excitement when you do get it. It's like more valuable and I mean I describe it now in that way With the hindsight that I have now, working with all the coach and stuff, whatever, like, so I was naive to like, why it was that at the time, all I knew is that it felt super great and I, and I met this community that can, that I could relate to that was like rock and roll and like fly through the air and like, it's an expression, right?

Like you can be, I love that you can carve it up and play around. And I'm always in anything that I've done, whether it's the skateboarding, the snowboarding and the mountain biking, it's always come from like, I desire to like fly and play with [00:10:00] the like, um, physics of it a little bit. It's almost like dancing with gravity, you know, especially when you get into that thousands of hours kind of zone, man, like, I mean, I could ramble on and on, but like lately it's been a little bit of that with the, cause I work as a snowmobile guide in the winter and I've been picking up moto in the last like three years.

And incorporating a throttle into all that has just been this, like, a whole other paradigm, kind of, almost, to just add another element of, like, input and, like, understanding how you can take that, you can take gravity, momentum, and air, like, all that kind of stuff. And harness it and like, like play with it.


use that input to affect the other three.


yeah. I think a common theme here, we're going to talk loads more about this, but is have it, I guess, like the, the courage to keep throwing yourself again and again into that beginner's stage. Hey, now I've got this throttle. I know [00:11:00] nothing about that.

This is awesome. And I'd love to hear you speak on that feeling you get when you are in that beginner stage and everything's new. You

learn it. Yeah. It's funny actually that you say that you ask that bring that question. It's a good question. I think, um, it's been more a desire since coming, getting into the coaching side of things.

Like once it became my gig or my career to do this and then through that, like became more passionate through it. It was almost like, uh, it was just more appealing to not only understand the client that I'm coaching, but also like a little bit to some degree, like envious of that, like naive factor or that, that discovery place, at least with mountain biking.

Because by the time that I had been taking up coaching for the first time, I had been riding long enough that I felt pretty proficient on most trails. And while I still felt like plenty of times where I'd be scared or pushing my limit, it wasn't frequent enough to where I was [00:12:00] like, Whoa, you know? And so it was like through vicariously like feeling the, the client's experience that I got to experience all those early stage things.

And then this, yeah, desire to kind of chase that, say in the off season with a new sport that can't be mountain biking or like other things, because the mountain biking was tricky to, to, to get that. Without getting into a really risky situation or even just making the time because I think part of that was like riding a new trail So I'd have to go to a new spot or something like that.


Yeah, I love that idea And I think this is a really good rabbit hole we could go down and probably an important one. So I know a lot of Mountain bikers struggle with that same thing of like, hey, I've been riding for five or ten years. I'm really proficient at this I'm missing that feeling of progression of getting better I want to keep getting better, but I don't want to put the risk through the roof.

I don't want to hurt myself. I know you've found some, you know, really creative, really cool ways of getting that same feeling and pushing yourself still within [00:13:00] the realm of biking. I'd love to hear you speak on that.

Um, yeah, like I guess to get more, a little more creative or to kind of push without feeling like you're putting yourself in a risky situation.

At least as of late, it's been coming from like, so I never really did BMX or dirt jump in. Um, I've always kind of wanted to, again, coming back to like the tricky side and like freestyle stuff. Like I was always a huge fan of like, you know, I talked about, uh, NWD and like dropping TV, like nitro circus.

Like these are the kind of inspirations that hit me young coming into this whole scene. And so you always kind of look up to them, but it just seems so unattainable. And. I've kind of tried to make the time and like maybe with a little bit more of an adult mindset, like this whole trick stuff felt so out of reach.

And when I did attempt it, it was like, you know, like try a couple of flips and stuff early on in the biking and had some big crashes and stuff and just no technique and like feed off hands off, [00:14:00] but no structure to it all is long before I was coaching or anything. So now I'm seeing a desire from clients and kids to want to do that stuff.

And I just see myself in them when, when they were, when I was like wanting to learn that stuff too. And I'm kind of satisfying my, I guess, my younger, uh, desire to learn tricks through that more disciplined approach, more professional approach to the coaching. And then. And at the same time, it's great because I'm allowing myself to, through that learning process, deliver some of that to these kids, who are like, they're just going to throw themselves off the stuff anyway, just like I did, and everyone's going to do it all the time.

Kids, you're kind of supposed to do that kind of stuff. But wouldn't it be great if we can kind of give them a little bit to feed off of, so that they're maybe not breaking themselves off, or like, having good memories of that. Because like, I did stop doing that kind of stuff in the first, like, year, and then just tried to practice going down steeper stuff, faster stuff, harder trails.

But the trick thing is like, [00:15:00] forget about it. Until recently where, um, Lisa Mason, a local to Whistler, has been there for ages. She's such a huge proponent of the female mountain bike scene. Has been for a long time. She's started something called Women's Mountain Bike, uh, or Women's Freeride Movement. Um, close friend for as long as I've lived in Whistler.

She, for a long time, was trying to get an airbag into Whistler. She finally did it. It's awesome. And, um, I worked with her this summer to try and build that up and, and get the scene going there. So having a lot of hours with the bag was kind of... That and having a, uh, Chromag Monk this year. Chromag helped me out and got me a, a monk so I could ride.

Um, I kind of saved up some pennies to update my bike and, uh, they, they gave me a good deal. And so I could try that kind of riding. Although basically... A

dirt jumper style bike. Yeah, a dirt jumper.

Yeah. Yeah. So like... Um, for the first time [00:16:00] I had kind of everything in my, the ball in my, all the ball in my court, or like, I guess everything in my favor to, uh, to pursue this.

So just, it was kind of natural. Everything was just kind of asking me to like, hey, now's the time. Like, you know, let's, and instead of just kind of hurling myself into all of it, I would, took the time to like break down step by step. There was, uh, about five years ago or so, I had worked at the Air Dome. It is an indoor bike park, an indoor foam pit that was on Blackcomb Mountain.

I'd worked there temporarily when I injured myself and couldn't coach. So that was like my first little taste of like freestyle mountain biking. But again, that was a lot of flinging myself. I didn't really know where to begin with it all and I was just kind of watching people. But this is the first time I was methodically going about it.

Small baby steps and, um, just going back to your original question, I guess, is like... Finding the like little things that were a huge payoff like if it was just kind of pushing my toes down a little bit In [00:17:00] the air like it can move the bike like this I can take my hands off and get him back and that was just like felt like a lower risk I'm hitting the ramp much slower than any ramp in the bike park or my mountain bike I'm not riding anything super exposed on a cliff edge.

Worst case scenario with any of these tricks, even though you're spinning and flipping and hands and feet coming off, don't really get much more than like a twisted ankle or like a bruise or something. And then I'm back. It's not something that's like a season enter, which can often happen when I feel like I'm pushing things where at least where I'm at with the mountain biking.

So that was kind of.

Yeah. Yeah. Fantastic, man. So much we could unpack there. I'd love to, to dive a little deeper and ask you like, what is that process or what is your process? Say for example, I know you learned a sui no handa this year. Yeah. You're like, you're sitting there one day and you're like, Hey, that would be a really cool trick.

I think that's achievable. That's a goal I want to go for. Yeah. What steps do you put in between where you were and where you [00:18:00] wanted to be? Um,

so the first thing that I do is I. I am like obsessed, like obsessively watching videos and not, when I say videos, I'm not like looking up how to sui no hand or like, I might watch maybe a couple of those, but really it's like the clips that we all see, like part of an edit or something, or just kind of on social media.

It's usually part of like a bunch of other clips and I'll pause and like hit every like frame by frame And I'm watching also I'll focus on one part of their body for that say like we're talking about a sui I'll look at their hands From the moment they leave the lip to where they've landed it and then I'll rewind and do it again frame by frame by frame Looking at their feet and again looking at their knees all this stuff So I've watched the same clip frame by frame for like an hour

What does that, does that give you a visual representation that you remember?

I'm trying to like break it down the more subtleties that people don't talk [00:19:00] about because I think what I found that in watch, I used to kind of try and watch the like tutorial videos and like talk to people who do them, but unless they're really great coaches, people were doing them were kind of struggling to find a good description that would really speak to me or kind of bring out the progress.

And then in the tutorial videos a similar thing where like they're great at what they're doing and maybe even great content creators But it's just not whatever it is this or that it's not quite speaking to me It's not working And so I kind of tried to like I guess coach myself in the way that I understand coaching I'm, like maybe I could kind of do it for myself Even though this is a new kind of biking and i'm just gonna really watch every little thing And so I, I noticed things that work for me and I was trying to almost coach myself like I'm someone else, like third person, but I'm watching the video and I'm like, Hey, I'm going to hit this jump now, whether it's like, it's gotta be like a consistent jump, like a mulch jumping with her or something like, or a set of dirt jumps that you just know the jump really well.

And rather than like throw my hands off even a little bit, I'm just like, I watched the video and I'm like, okay, his [00:20:00] feet are doing it. Just the feet. My hands don't even come off. I'm trying. So effectively, this is the steps that everyone skips. When you're trying to learn a trick, in this case a no hander, you're thinking about all the steps and taking your hands off, and you forget about everything else your body's doing.

But it's like, the no hander, it's all about the pinch. Like, if you can't pinch the bike, You're not going to want to take your hands off. And if you somehow do with no awareness on the pinch, it's not going to go well. Best case scenario, it'll look ugly and rusty and you'll feel very panicked in the process and you will pull it off.

But it's not what you would hope to create. Like when you, anytime anyone wants to learn these things, they want to like full hands out, you know, and like be the dudes and girls that they see on screen, right? Like that's what you want. And so that's not going to satisfy. Sure. It's a step in the right direction, but That's sort of the most valuable thing I found is take the time to focus on the little things and put the mileage in on the little things before seeking that big extension.

Like if you can find [00:21:00] consistency on keeping the bike, at least with these aerials and stuff in the right, in like with you, and then go to extension and kind of style and just be patient with that process. You have a way lower crash rate and a way higher success rate. Like now I'll pinch it without even trying.

Sometimes it's like, I can hold the hands off with the right jump, right up until the moment that my tires, I've landed with my hands off. And like, if your pinch, if your pinch is good. You'll feel that, like you'll feel good about

it. That's fascinating, hearing that process broken down. I love it. And one thing that stood out for me there is you talk about, uh, almost like explaining it as if you're explaining it to someone else, one of your students that you're teaching.

Did you find taking that step back and kind of looking at the process and the learning from a third person perspective, did that help you not getting attached to any feelings of like, uh, frustration or guilt or I wish this was sped up? Yeah. Did it help you be more compassionate towards yourself in that process?

Yeah, [00:22:00] massive actually. Like that, it's uh, I think there is a little bit of a, you kind of teach yourself to remove yourself from the process through trial and error and you get better at it. Um, I do feel like, especially if I'm trying something new, um, and it's not going well, I'll stop trying it and try, go to something else that I know.

Just to kind of go back to that, like fun factor, as soon as it starts to feel like work, you're going to start getting frustrated. And there's a 100 percent guarantee that like, if you're frustrated on the drop in, only two outcomes, and they're both negative, is you're not going to get any kind of progress, or you're going to hurt yourself, sometimes pretty bad, depending on what you're trying.

So why even drop in frustrated? So it's like, I'll switch to some other that I know, or even not even trick, but just kind of have fun with it again, and then maybe come back to it if it feels, or just put it off.

um, a big part of how I've gotten better at that Is actually like kind of a self talk [00:23:00] quietly that I do to myself is like why aren't you Providing what you do to your students and clients right now in this moment.

I like kind of create a bit of a knock Maybe a bit hard on myself or like a bit like more accountability on myself Like hey, like catching yourself in the moment because I definitely I'm guilty of like getting frustrated and not getting stuff I'll like start yelling a little bit or like, ah, I'll make sounds like that.

Like, you know, I'm not screaming or whatever But, uh, definitely getting frustrated and showing signs of it. And it can be a little embarrassing if you're at a jump spot or like a skate park or something like that. Right. And so I've tried to get better about like little moment of like self talking like, Hey, like, you know, you do this all the time.

If you, if I witnessed me right now as a client, what would I say to that person? And that's kind of that quick little check is been proving so valuable and I'm getting, trying to get better at it. Definitely getting better. Yeah.

Yeah, it's really cool to hear you speak on that. I know it's something I've been working on as well.

It's kind of like that self reflection after each little step is ticked off. So often we're focusing on the outcome or like a big [00:24:00] goal, you know, getting the no hands off and looking awesome at the third jumps. What about like that day where you figured out how to pinch the bike and that was like this, this tiny win that actually was huge.

Yeah. Getting to the goal in

the end. Yeah, massive. Like we were talking about it today a little bit on the trail. There's like, um, the, The process, the little things, the nuances. I actually make a point in the coaching stuff, this doesn't even have to be tricks at all, but like, um, you know, because I don't really coach much of that stuff, it's not quite as big of a scene yet.

Hopefully soon, it's probably, it's mostly just stuff, like, it's all a product of the environment. Our, our trails are not, we don't have like perfect dirt everywhere, it's more about like rocky terrain, elevation and stuff, so it makes sense that we have more of this kind of enduro, downhill style riding.

And so... Um, not too much for the dirt jump crowd and tricks, but what I was going to say is that the, I do take the time to celebrate with clients and make them, uh, note, spend time like celebrating even the process of making the right decision, even if that [00:25:00] decision is to like, Hey, we're not going to do this.

You know, like we came to this plan, do this big thing. Maybe it's a rock side, maybe it's a big gap jump and somewhere along the way, we might've even prepared all season for this. So there's like a lot of hype about it But also you're trying to create low pressure and it just creates this like funny mental thing and sometimes the win is there and it's great That's what we all strive for but those moments where it's not It's so easy to fall into like a really emotional Reaction to that and you're like this was my year This is a thing like we were supposed to get this photo.

It could have been this new sponsor It could have been like whatever all my friends would have thought i'm awesome or like if they're young Maybe that's the sort of thought process. I would make this great instagram video all that stuff is like In your brain and creating all this pressure and stuff, but it's like I want to celebrate the times where you made the right call to Yes, not create the trick or the the rock roll or the jump that would have done all that But what you did do is you made the right call because it didn't feel right and now [00:26:00] you didn't break yourself off You know you can because you can come back the very next day And now you're like, you did all that stuff that you came to do all because you made the right call today.

And so I think there's the, I try to make a real effort to celebrate the, the walking away of stuff as weird as that sounds. It's because it's a celebration of the correct decision making and the right mindset.

Sometimes it's like courage, isn't it? It's the skill in itself that takes repetition and takes work to develop.

It's like, Hey, you displayed courage

today. Massive.

Yeah. Totally. I know you speak a lot, in relation to your coaching around mental performance. I'd love to hear, what does mental performance mean to you in relation to mountain biking?

Mental performance, so what comes to mind when you phrase it that way, like, you know, there's definitely a lot more, like, mental, uh, stuff, awareness being brought into all sports, and mountain biking is no exception, and I love that.

I've always been a big [00:27:00] proponent of it, but performance, mental performance, I feel like it's, uh, It's an ability to understand your, how your brain works, how you particularly respond to situations, and, like, kind of work the right techniques to be in the best position mentally, internally, to match your, you know, physical capabilities or what you set out to do that day.

So, you know, I could be fit enough, strong enough, uh, like, Theoretically understand how to do something enough to ride down, you know, that rock roll or hit that jump. But if say that day I feel like I've had some sort of personal issue that's been bugging me in my head, I've not had good sleep or something like that.

Well, maybe sleep's more physical, but, um, something's been bothering me or personal, like relationship issues, family stuff, anything [00:28:00] that has, has taken up a certain amount of my brain power or focus. It compromises everything else. And so I think mental performance is recognition of that and understanding techniques and strategies to mitigate that.

To perform your best mentally. Like for me it can quite often be, like I'll visualize. In order to get the mental part under control. It's I kind of developed a bit of a mantra to it It's it's a sequential. It's a breathe trust and commit

Let's talk about this, okay, this is one that sorry to cut you off No, this is one that you've inspired me and I've used that on the trails Yeah, I think it's it's a really good mantra.

It's a lot of important points. I'd love to speak on it more Yeah,

it came from just it was kind of stuff the whole breathe trust commit thing was a bit of Just taking what was kind of coming up in the moment on these, um, [00:29:00] on, on any kind of skill development clinic and, and, and these programs and some of the chats that we'd have on the trail side while we're doing this stuff or afterwards at the parking lot, like whether you've done something huge or you've walked away from it, like it was in those chats that, or even on, on the trail side while I'm sort of, um, pep talking or, or inspiring, trying to inspire people on these features.

Those were some of the words that were coming up. Um, and then I would also combine some of that dialogue and those ideas with some, like, journaling and what would become captions to like, social media posts. Um, and I started to see these same kind of words coming up, same ideas, and it was around, like, the breath, the trust, the commit, and the more time I spent thinking about it, it became like a sequential process.

So, I felt that, like, and I started to really think about and pay attention. Like, what am I doing? What do I witness other people doing gives them the optimal mental performance [00:30:00] and it's quite often what I found that's working as is the the breath is the start of it and that's it's such a Indication like a good indicator of where you're at because you can tell yourself all you want And you may even not even realize that you're being kind of in some way or another Manipulated or infiltrated because you want something so bad You're like, okay, yeah, I'm calm, like, I'm good, I'm ready, like, there's so much pressure or different factors that you're, you've created to make this needs to happen now or today or whatever.

You're not, you're lying to yourself and you're not realizing it that, yeah, well, my breath's under control and you're saying it like, uh, right, but take a moment objectively and breathe and feel how you breathe. Are you breathing quickly, short, fast? So as soon as you can get to a place where it's like comfortable calm, there's no denial that your breath is under control, you're good.

That's the only way to then move into like, okay, do I feel [00:31:00] ready? I feel like if you're making that process or asking questions, but am I ready for this feature? Do I feel good today? Until your breath is under control, the answers to those questions may be compromised. Yeah. So

it is, it sounds like the first step there of the breath is awareness of Yeah.

Where my breathing at

it is. It, it's, uh, yeah. You, you can't, it, it kind of calls you out. Mm-hmm. You know, the, the breath doesn't lie, so you can tell yourself you're ready, but if you're breathing huffing like that, I feel like, and it may be a different process for others, but I found enough consistency in my own riding and others that I, I count on that and it's the baseline.

I think breathing, it's a really interesting one because like you say, everyone perhaps does it a little bit differently and there's loads of different techniques we can look up online these days about regulating our nervous system by using the breath. So I always love to ask, like specifically for you, which ways work best for regulating your nervous system when you're out on the trails?

Yeah. Well, um, can we pause that question? Totally, yeah. Because I just want to go through the trust, commit, and finish [00:32:00] the mantra. Okay.

Yeah, yeah. I'm digging in too

deep here. No, but do remember that question because it's a good one. Um, so, uh, I'll just speak to the trust. So the breath is the first step so that's your baseline covered.

I can go through the process of tackling whatever it is that's my challenge today.

So the trust part comes from a, like, your breath's under control and now it's time to think about the trust.

It just helps relieve some of the doubts you might have or the things that sort of creep in as, do I have this? Like, you start asking yourself, am I right, am I making the right call? The trust helps, I think, alleviate a lot of that, and trust means that you're trusting yourself, that you are, this is the time, this is the right day, you're capable of this, you, you're ready, this is the right time, I love it, it's good.

Um, the other trust is going on that's like, I trust the feature has been built with this in mind, what I'm going to perform, it's not something like totally out of the ordinary. Um, it's, it's, before, unless it hasn't, but it's most likely been done before. [00:33:00] Um, I trust my coach if there's one there with you or my, my crew today that, that they're making the right calls and they're supporting me.

All of that is trust. I trust my bike is performing well. Like when you can take all those parameters and say, yes, that's, that's like thumbs up. It just helps you like, It almost, like, outsources some of the big job that needs to be done right now. It's not all you, like, you've got a team, and everything's helping you out to achieve that.

And that helps me, at least, and I've seen it with others, like, take that on as a team. A team of your bike, a team of your coach, a team of the trail builder, a team of you all at once. And then the commit part is almost like a promise to the moment that you let off those levers and those wheels start turning, and You have, or maybe it's the crossing of the line of commitment.

It can be kind of both of those. You have already made the decision to seek it, to go the whole way through. [00:34:00] Like that in itself is you making the commitment. To finish what you've started. There is no slamming on the brakes once there So it doesn't mean that that whole breathe trust commit mantra needs to happen completely There's plenty of days where I get to breathe and then I can't even get past that or not even get to breathe But it's such a great tool in that way where it's like unless you can get through all three with like Conviction then it's it's not the right day.

You know, it could be an hour later where everything changes It could be ten minutes later. I've watched it change But you need to own it in that moment and follow through with that. I love

that process. It's such a sound order because we can't. Commit without getting our breath under control first, or we shouldn't.

Um, and there's no trust there either if we're in a, if we're over alert state or under alert state. So we have to do it in that order. Yeah.

Yeah, so like. Breaking down the breath component even further, I know there's loads of different strategies,

I'm really curious, how [00:35:00] specifically do you use breath when you're out there on the mountain bike?

Um, I wish I could speak more to it because I know there are a lot of techniques and breath, like even breath workers, and you can go down the rabbit hole with that. so, I guess it was probably in the last 10 years or so that I've kind of incorporated like meditation and, and mindful practices and awareness just into life in general.

And then of course it kind of bleeds off into other areas of your life. And in this case, it definitely came out in my coaching and my own approach to riding. But the, this day, it kind of is just like a feeling of like. I know when I'm not quite breathing right or not,

But what I do know with the breath part of it is that in moments where I have felt most Kind of pushed in my riding I won't even think about it to do whatever is coming up next until I can get Whether it's 10 breaths or [00:36:00] 30 or or put the right mindset in that creates the breath That's like and you can feel it kind of Through your whole body, yo, I at least this is my experience of it I I know I'm there when I can feel that I'm like kind of breathing into my extremities I can breathe into my fingertips into my toes.

So breathing in to get that deep belly breathing I think that's what for me really kind of triggers that relaxation response where I can think again about what I want to do

So and like people would do yoga and stuff know all about that right like I've done some of that definitely not regular practicing these days as much but Yeah, like you can't move and stretch without the breath work.

It's it's part of it. They're not separate. They're like symbiotic. Yeah,

I guess is the word Often has like breath described as like the bridge between the mind and the body. Yeah That's really true That's awesome. It sounds like a really intuitive process for you. Like you can feel when your [00:37:00] breathing's right and that's at the right state for you to perform at your best on the bike.

And then on the other end of the scale, you can feel when you're perhaps a little bit too heightened and you need to calm yourself down a little

bit. Definitely. Like even today, coming off of this, finding on some of those landings that it wasn't quite what you had anticipated. And so you're in that kind of recovery mode.

There was a couple of times today I landed a little left of where I wanted to be or like faster than we maybe should have been for that section of trail. And in that moment, like I'm sure the breath is heightened and things are tight, but those, like when we hiked up and did that, after looking at it, the first one on antithesis, like when we greased it, like real clean, that was very much like a breath thing.

And actually now we're chatting about it, I'm thinking, when you, when I know a trail really well through and through, And you just know every little hit. Like I spend a lot of hours in the bike park, it's probably where I spend the most hours working and riding. When you know every little berm, or every little hole and pocket, it does become like a, like [00:38:00] exhale, inhale, exhale, like with the terrain.

It's pretty magic when you, when you're riding something that you just know really well. Like

that? Yeah, like kind of getting into that flow state, I think. Breathing is a critical component, isn't it? We can't get into the flow state unless we're continuously breathing at a calm rate. I find, yeah, as well for me, sometimes when the trail becomes a little less smooth, maybe I'm casing jumps, maybe the speed's all over the place, often I've forgotten to breathe or I've started to hold my breath.

Totally. Yeah, if anyone wants to watch that ride and see what we're talking about, I highly recommend checking that one out on YouTube there as well. Talking there about intuition and about breathing, I wanted to ask you this question because I've seen you post on intuition and how you use it to kind of read the trail ahead and almost feel the trail ahead.

I'd love to hear you speak on intuition.

That kind of, when I think about that, it falls under the trust part of that mantra. Like trust that in, and it's funny to kind of [00:39:00] dissect it that because you're so in, this is, we're talking like split seconds while you're riding along, but really it's Moments, or like a split second before tire, you're making contact with a patch of terrain that you can see ahead of you, you create a bit of a bracing or a position in order to make best use of that terrain before it, before you're there, right?

Anticipation and intuition. Um, in doing that, I feel like there's a, you, if you do it with conviction and confidence, even if it's, you've made a slightly wrong call and how, so you have an idea before you hit that patch, whether it's going to be slippery, sticky, uh, steep, you know, all that kind of stuff. If your calculations might be a little off, just having arrived with that level of conviction and confidence, We'll kind of soften all that out to such a way that you're still gonna kill it like you crush it Yeah, almost [00:40:00] more than you may have if you've nailed it completely But it's more of like a straight lines way of thinking and probably that seems to work better For me to create that like flow state kind of riding and that's sort of how I think about the intuition It's like making those calls that you know with a hundred percent certainty This is the right call even if later it turns out to be like a little off It just works because you came in with that conviction.

Yeah. Yeah. Thanks for digging deep I love kind of dissecting this down to the finer details and it's yeah It's so interesting to hear like yeah, like that certainty of like I'm 99. 8 percent sure This is how it's gonna go. But if it doesn't I know about a deal with it anyway

Yeah, yeah, and that if it doesn't it's kind of like it doesn't even come through It's more like after the fact like I can see that it didn't But I was, you like, it's almost one of those things where only you're going to notice that it's kind of thing.

Like if you're a drummer, you skip a beat in a live [00:41:00] performance, you can stop and like, go, Oh, and then regain yourself. Or you can notice that and keep going and go like, that was silly. And you're right in there and no one ever noticed. That's kind of how I think about it. It's like. I, I noticed, but I don't think most people do with those little nuances and things.

That's a great way of

thinking about that. Man, I'm loving where this conversation is going. I'd love to talk a little bit about your coaching, because I know that's been such a huge part in what you've been doing for the last few years or more. Can you tell us like, what was the story behind becoming a coach?

What was the inspiration

there? So it's one of those things where you hear sometimes where like, Whether, you know, it's your calling in life or the thing that you were meant to do. Um, I feel very much that way now, and it's, it falls into that same way that other people who do what they feel like is what they're meant to do, how they got about it.

It's like, I was doing it before I knew I was doing it, or it was a thing. I remember, so, living in Whistler for the last, like, 16 years or whatever, [00:42:00] I'd worked in just about every job or industry you can think of, just, again, kind of like I like to dabble and try new things a lot. So before mountain bike coaching was a thing, I was definitely mountain biking a bunch.

And in those jobs that I was doing, whether I worked at a coffee shop, a cab driver, all kinds of stuff, you'd meet all these co workers and colleagues and new people and stuff, right? And like people rolling through town, and it's such a transient town. I was always the person at that, like, workplace that was all, that's the guy who bikes.

So inevitably people are getting into whatever they're getting into in Whistler, like the party scene or snowboarding or mountain bike. They were like, Oh, you getting into mountain bike? You should go ride with Mike. Like, he's so great at like showing you the ropes and like, he's so fun to ride with for the first time.

He has patience. He'll take time, whatever. And it was true. I loved it. I had so much fun showing people and it was just more friends for me to ride with. It was great. I did that for probably like, I don't know, like three or four years, where enough people were like, Dude, you're [00:43:00] too good at this to be doing this as like just for fun, and like you have a job that's not this, like you need to be doing this, and I was like, yeah, yeah, okay, whatever, but I heard that enough times that I was like, Maybe I'll just go look at like what that's all about and just went about the whole certification process And of course like fell in love with it It was just like a natural thing and I had even before I had started working I kind of had a couple years of experience of just like you know what I mean?

From taking people to the bike path or to trails and stuff. Yeah,

it's such a fantastic backstory and you're definitely on the right path I'm so stoked you found, uh, found coaching Yeah, and like we were chatting a little bit about this on our ride But I always like to ask the question you've been doing this for what like five or ten years now Yeah, what's one thing that stands out that you've learned from a student

Yeah. I have learned from clients, um, oh well, many things, but one that's like as of recent or last couple of years is that like a certain [00:44:00] kinds of riding or styles of riding, cause mountain bike can be so many different things these days.

The ones that you kind of tend to brush off is like, I don't like that kind of riding, or that riding stinks, or like that's stupid or silly. Because again, kind of throwing back to why we got into it in the first place. You know, we were talking about how it was an expression, it was a fun, playful thing.

So really, who's to say of like, this is mountain biking, this is not mountain biking, right? And so those ones that we like, kind of brush off as like, this is stupid or silly, or I don't like this, or I'm not good at this. Those are the ones that I've noticed that through clients that are good at the kinds of biking or little things within biking that I'm not good at, have kind of inspired me to like, how can I make this fun?

Cause I can't figure it out. And you seem to be having a lot of fun with this. So like I've tried to be open minded and objective and it's like any kind of new biking. It feels like work at first, or it feels like challenging because it's a new thing. But if you get to enough through those little plateaus.

I'm starting to understand like things [00:45:00] like technical climbing can actually be really fun and rewarding getting over like a Tight switchback with roots and stuff or like a bit of a rock thing I used to just step off and climb past all those things or walk past all those things and I do still do that a fair bit But I'm definitely a little more open minded to giving it a try at least instead of just brushing it off and stuff like that goes On for you hear people talk about that with like skinnies.

For example, we rode skinnies today yeah, and it was like it's typically one of those things that people are like, oh like That's such a flow killer. It's so dumb and like why would you put that in the middle of a trail? You know things like that you might hear, but it is really like so open to like yeah I'm definitely way more open to Things that I might initially feel like oh, that's not all that fun or rewarding kind of biking Like give it a chance or play with

it Yeah, that's really interesting topic.

Um, I think, yeah, a lot of these things that are really hard at the start can be written off as like, ah, I'm just no good at that. Or that's just a pointless goal. Or So like Yeah. [00:46:00] Skin is, is a lot of them technical climbing. Um, we were chatting as well. I've been working on my manuals lately. Yeah. And that's been one for me that I just ignored for years.

Mm-hmm. . 'cause the barrier to getting good at it, it is quite a big barrier and it takes commitment lots of time. Maybe working through frustration, that kind of thing. But I do also think the fruit on the other side of these goals is so much more rewarding when we finally get it. Yeah. Uh, and I'm sure you can relate with some of the tricks you've been working on this year.

Things like flips. Sure. Stuff like that, where like the barrier to entry is high.

Yeah, it is. Yeah, absolutely. Like, but, like anything, like we were talking with the manual, it could be all, any of that kind of stuff. Um. It's taking the time is probably one of the greatest lessons I've learned with some of those things that are like a measurable kind of maneuver that that Often tend to take the place of like, oh you can do this with your bike That means you're this level of rider, you know, and so the manual can be that a backflip could be that You know, no handers or supermans [00:47:00] things like that They can often like be a measuring stick or people talk about or feel like that But like if you have that Overcoming your idea of it.

It makes it really hard to like grasp it. It's like take the little, break it down, break it down into smaller slices and then celebrate the little wins as you Get more slices to that pie. And at the end, you get to eat that delicious pie. Words of

wisdom. I love that. You may have just answered the next question, but I'm going to ask it anyway.

What's one of the biggest mental challenges you see your students facing, and then what are some of the strategies or the tools you give them to help with that process?

it seems a little bit, like, almost a little too simple or too obvious, but one of the most common ones, probably the most common, is like, uh, uh, inability to truly believe that you're capable of it.

A lot of like, self doubt, and like, even in signing up to some programs, or like going through the steps to get better, they're really kind of like, [00:48:00] sometimes, you know, I'm probably not going to get my goal that I really want, but let's try, or like, so you're already kind of selling yourself short a little bit.

Or it's going to be a little bit more difficult to get there if you come in with that mindset than if you're like, okay, I can do this. Um, these are the steps I'm going to do. And you kind of, again, with some conviction and own it. But quite often I do find that like a big part of what my job is and what I strive to do.

is to inspire their own confidence, and then, and, and belief that they can do it. Because I always, I, it's something that happens, it's funny, it happens differently with, with males versus females, for sure. But like, I like to work with female riders more often, just because, at least like, typically. Of course we're all, we all break the mold, some of us, but like, most of the time, I'm talking female riders up.

And male riders down just to keep them safe. They're like, okay, like, well, like I love where you're going with it, but like, let's break it down in [00:49:00] smaller pieces. If we're working with male rider, female rider tends to have this idea that their own riding is here. In reality, I've seen enough examples that it's actually here.

And I've been working more with female riders just because I found that like that my style of coaching lends itself better to them. So it's kind of just works really well. And I've noticed that pretty common. Struggle that people have is believing that they are where I see that they've shown me enough examples And I I spend a lot of time explaining to them.

This is why you're here like so you're trying to tell me you're here Here's how I can prove to you that you're here and it might be describing things. I've watched them do riding things together and like look you can do this you can do that. You got nothing you're trying to tell me this I'm calling you out like, you know, you're wrong and they're like Okay, I guess I've just been conservative with, you know, what I thought I was capable of, and it's a common one, yeah,

that self confidence.

yeah, [00:50:00] self belief piece, I think, is huge. So often, uh, riders will sell themselves short because perhaps they don't want to appear, like, you know, cocky or arrogant or anything like that. Um, but without that self belief piece, we don't have the belief to go and try new things. Yeah.

And go after challenging goals, and it's in that process of trying new things that we build confidence, right?

Yeah, and just like... In that bit of dialogue, it makes me think of, like, when I think about my own riding, the things that help me try to do some of those things that I feel like are really scary, it's, I've made a conscious decision that I'm prepared to go down in the pursuit of this.

Like, I've decided that the win is worth the fail. The potential fail. Yes. Right? And it's not like a permanent fail, it's just like a temporary fail in the process and it becomes a step to that top. But. That's what I think about when I think about, like, one of the things that were difficult for me that became something that I did a few times successfully this year [00:51:00] was like a nothing error, where you got no hands and no feet on.

And that felt for a while like, I'm, I know I'm not getting there because I'm not willing to like go bigger with the extension. It was kind of like these little open hands and feet were like still on the pedals. And then when it started to work, it was, it was only after like, but right before dropping being like, I don't care.

If I go down and then it's funny and just that it's like a liberation a little bit in that decision You're not gonna go down because you've done it with conviction or more real and that of course like you could fall in there but but you definitely open up your chances way higher if you can drop in with that breath that trust that commit and you've kind Of just accepted that like I'm ready for any outcome, right?

I'm okay with all

outcomes Yes, having the vulnerability. I mean like I'm like, I'm okay to fail at this. It's part of the process

It's totally like being open, not, not pressure on one outcome or another, just, just happy to roll the dice. It's

easier [00:52:00] said than done, isn't it? Massive. Oh yeah. I realized on a much smaller scale with my manuals.

The reason I'm not currently as good as I'd like to be at manuals is because I haven't been doing them. And then breaking down that further and having some reflection, I realized the reason I wasn't doing them. When I'm with all my other riding buddies that can manual and riding back from the trails down a perfect road, a perfect grade for it.

It was a self confidence thing. Yeah. It's like I was doing these tiny little manuals that weren't manuals. So I just wasn't doing them. But that in turn is the reason why I couldn't do bigger manuals. So it's been great this month committing to it and kind of being like it's okay to suck

at manuals.

Totally. And it's so valuable to surround yourself with other people in the learning process. Especially if they happen to be learning the same things you are. So like right now, you know, you and I coming down the road, we're pretty much in a similar place with our manuals. And it's great. It's so fun to like watch each other do it.

And I'm still like very much trying to think I've not been able to like lock it in. Definitely get those like little glimpses of that. It was cool watching

you up in the balance point. And then we tried it a couple of tools and like, Oh, totally got the [00:53:00] heels. I'm thinking about that. Like that

stuff is, is instrumental.

Like it's definitely, uh, It's imperative, I think, like, you gotta surround yourself, like, right now I'm, I'm actively seeking, cause it's not a very big community of dirt jumpers, but also who are not like, too accomplished in it is nice if you can find them, like, finding other people who are learning what I'm currently learning really helps me out.

Yeah, I think that's a really important thing to have in your community, isn't it? People at a similar level to challenge you. Yeah, for sure. It's great to have people that are way better to look up to and perhaps people who are below you in progression to teach Having that person that is at a really similar level can be super


Totally You kind of take it on as a team to like when you lose or when you when you win It's incredible to like celebrate that together. And even when you don't quite hit the mark you get to like relieve some of that disappointment In a smaller slice. Mm. And it's, you know, it's temporary and you can kind of like pep talk each other through.

It's like, it's [00:54:00] alright, dude. Like you got that like, totally like, remember when I almost, you know, did that like, you can do like, well we're, you know, we're both here, we're both doing it. Yeah. It's so crazy,

isn't it? It's only after we let go of that attachment of being good at something or mm-hmm. You know, doing it perfect the first time that we give ourself the opportunity to get better at it and perhaps

make it perfect eventually.

Totally. So a friend of mine recently posted a post where it had like an iceberg and the tip of the iceberg was like epic slope style tricks or whatever the part that's above the water and then under the water it had stuff like crashing, bike not wearing, injuries and like it was just like this huge long list of like five years or whatever and that's, that's the truth.

Anyone who looks amazing on their mountain bike, especially the ones who are like at the top of the industry and like posting like the best riding in the world. Quite often we're not seeing all the stuff that's going on in that process. Like they're definitely spending plenty of time off their bike, plenty of time in despair of, of being without that and dealing with some real hardships, [00:55:00] but it's just not all that sexy post to pre putting up or attractive things.

So we, and it's hard and it can be, um, really difficult as a vulnerable spaces, but there's no doubt. There's no doubt that everyone who's at the top of their game is that's part of the recipe. You work

with that. Yeah. It's fascinating, isn't it? Like Dive in deeper below below the surface to get back to your analogy there and thinking about yeah What work has gone in here to get to that end result?

Yeah, fantastic, dude So something else you've been really active in in the past 10 years. It's always filmmaking. Yeah, love you Yeah, just start off by telling us a little bit about that. So that

came earlier prior to the any of the coaching stuff so that was kind of like It just so happened that the people that I had, I guess the first thing is like, I had expressed an interest in cameras and photo video stuff.

We used to like, skateboarding and that. We'd always be, um, getting videos and stuff. Cause I just [00:56:00] was watching skateboard videos all the time and I kinda wanted to make that. And I knew how to like, edit a little bit. I had learned it a little bit in school, just basic iMovie stuff, and I had a lot of fun being creative in that way.

So we used to just videotape ourselves skateboarding, and then I'd put some music to it and cut clips, and I'd be making the stuff that I really enjoyed watching in the skateboard movies. So I had like this old SLR camera when I moved to Whistler, and then I traded up for another one. Had a video mode, and I just, after like about a year of riding bikes, the first year in Whistler anyway, I started, um, videoing our riding and making little edits and stuff.

And it was, it kind of just like, there was a real, uh, a real fanfare right off the bat. Like first it was just our little friend circle and everybody's kind of like, Oh, that was so sick. I like what you did there. That was a cool clip or this song really ties together. Like, this is awesome. It's kind of the same way as I was kind of describing the, um, the coaching.

It was kind of. Dude, I wasn't doing it to make films so much It [00:57:00] was kind of like a lot of the times you hear it You just film it to watch it yourself And then you find that like there's a bunch of people who enjoy watching it from like an entertainment standpoint kind of thing And this is before YouTube or any of that stuff It might have been like the years where YouTube was just kind of becoming a thing But the term like youtuber was not something right or any of that kind of stuff So it was just for us for fun or whatever, right?

But I know but I put on Pinkbyte in couples that like places like that and then there was just this It went from being just us and like friends commenting and stuff on it to like, there was people from other countries and stuff watching it and making comments and stuff. Oh, this is so cool and whatever.

Um, that paired with being surrounded by some other, like, real... Uh, mountain bike arts people. Photographers, um, videographers, they're kind of in a similar zone too. Some are a little bit like full on actual photographers, professional photographers and videographers, but most of the people that I was friends with [00:58:00] were kind of in a similar place where they were like super creative, submitting some films maybe to this little film fest or this or that, and we were all kind of like learning it together and it was exciting.

So I had a fortunate position where most of my friends We're a little bit further along there or professional photographers and I got to learn a lot of stuff I never went to any kind of like photography videography school or anything like that professional training I was just hanging out with people who were that and it was very interesting to me the colors the composition that like Creating the feeling that I have on my bike through the lens was always the goal Like I was kind of just like oh, I like I love it so much I wish everyone can feel it if they can't go out and ride I wish they like maybe this is a way that they can kind of feel it So that was always kind of the goal with the edits and stuff that I put out, putting out stuff that, like, I want to watch, you know?

Yeah, I love that organic process and it really shows in what you're doing. You're driven by what you love rather than what's cool or what other people want. [00:59:00] Yeah. You know, going after the things you love and if other people like them along the way, that's awesome. Yeah,

it's usually how it goes. You get surprised that there's other people, like...

Seeking out the same stuff and

yeah, it was cool kind of I guess seeing the crossover between the coaching and also the filmmaking In one of your films called rascals. Yeah. Haha some seven year old little rippers in Whistler Yeah. Yeah, tell us about

that project. Yeah, that was So like prior to that one, that would probably be the most recent There was, it was a bunch of little like edits and stories, there were some travel mountain bike films that we did, we went to Peru, went to New Zealand, I went with like, uh, very close friends and professionals in the industry, Steve Story and Justa Jezkova.

Um, the, the, they are, uh, accomplished like filmmakers, photographers, and, uh, Steve's like a media athlete, so I learned a lot just riding with them and filming with them, traveling with them, um, and then a bunch of edits that we had done for fun around [01:00:00] town and traveling through B. C. But the Rascal Squared, that film was the first time since coaching where I kind of did blend those two worlds.

It was always something since I started coaching that I had in the back of my mind. Like you spend all these years... Riding, with kids especially, but even like anybody, I kind of wanted to capture some of that process. And these kids were kind of the perfect, uh, story. Cause it was, it was funny and cool that they were like, it was a bit of a, uh, added element that they're twins as well.

So it's kind of, they're the same age, same size, right? So that's kind of fun. But the, above all, the biggest appeal or like, draw to create that project was, these were the, this is the first time that I had come across kids that young, performing that well. And I was kind of new to the DFX. That's the kids coaching program and the whistler bike park there.

Um, for the first time. So that, you know, there's always been very talented kids, but we were reaching this threshold in that era and now where kids as [01:01:00] young as like eight kind of ish, we're seeing kids do things like a line and like dirt merchant even. And there's a lot of factors there, but yeah, so just in that coaching, witnessing this every day and part of that filmmaker brain going like, There's a story here that I really want to tell.

It was a very interesting project because I had to, I had to run a quadruple role kind of of like babysitter because these kids are young enough that like you're kind of playing some role there where you could take care of them, whatever. Filmmaker, coach, like all at the same time and I was one guy sitting up a GoPro here and like stop fighting with each other and like, you know, yelling that kind of stuff and like sitting up this angle.

And another part of that project was like So I'm not gonna, you know, if we didn't get the shot or something's out of focus, I can't be like hike up again. Let's do it. It's crazy. Right. So it was, it was super unique, cool project. Um, the parents were like super supportive and into it. Like, of course, I checked with the kids first and pitched it as an idea and, and the parents to make [01:02:00] sure they were into it.

And these two were like so keen. They're like all about it. Right. So. Um, yeah, they're the perfect kids for that project and it really was really a lot of fun. Oh man,

it's such a cool project. I know for me it was the first time seeing kids ride at such a high level at such a young age and I think a lot of people outside of that kind of whistler bubble community.

We're just mind blown by that video. Yeah. Yeah, I talk about technology and wearing a lot of different hats. I know right at the start you're there kind of talking to the kids on a walkie talkie as you're like, you know, a hundred feet away filming them. It's such an interesting concept and I think, yeah, so impressive that you pulled it off as a one man


Yeah, it was a lot of work, but, um, just super like, again, open to all outcomes. I didn't really care too much if it was... You know, the big, spectacular, most epic film ever, or if it was just like a fun little edit that like, we get to have, you know, like me and the kids and their parents and stuff and we get to have this cool thing.

[01:03:00] I had, I was open to all outcomes and then we put it into the VIMF and, um, as well as uh, Whistler Film Festival. It was really cool to, to, to put it on a stage with other filmmakers, like even beyond the mountain bike world. They got some great feedback and people loved it. Yeah, it was, it was just a great opportunity to showcase what these kids are doing, what us as coaches in the bike park with young kids get to see all the time.

That you can talk about it all day, you take like phone clips and GoPro clips and try and talk about like this magic that's going on out there. But if you can pull it off with some nice cameras and good lighting and that really show what it looks like, it's awesome.

Yeah, it's fantastic. Really, really recommend everyone goes and checks that out.

We'll put a link in the show notes. Um, man, this has been an awesome conversation. I think a great way to wind it up. I love to ask the question these days or today. What does the perfect ride look like for you and why? The perfect ride?

The perfect [01:04:00] ride is, it's all about feel. And like, you know, you hear it often, it's kind of cliche, but the reality is that, right?

Like, if you're just with the right people, the right energies in the air, and like the weather happens to be good, the trail conditions are great, and you wind it up with like a campfire or something, like I do like to ride, yeah, the perfect ride. It's pretty far from any kind of town, I think. Like, it'll usually be, whether it's in the Chilcotins or something, like a little more, more remote.

Or, I don't know, like Kamloops or something like that. Like, it's still a town nearby, but away from paved roads a little bit. Feels a little Wild West, and you're with the right people. Couple airtime moments. Those are all kind of like, right elements to Great Time. It's largely due to the social side of it.

Or the, the great crew, [01:05:00] you know? It could end up being a trail that doesn't have anything huge on it, but you just feel like you linked everything up and, and I kind of together, like hollering behind each other, kind of like what we did today, actually, it was sweet.

Yeah, party laps with good people, hey?

Connection to nature, connection to people. I love it. That's fantastic. Now, we've talked about all kinds of things today. There's been so many nuggets of wisdom I've taken away. But if you could send our listeners away with just one thing to remember on the next ride, what would it be?

Um. Just be sure you're having fun, you know, sounds simple, but really like all too often it's like get caught up with this or that or like, have fun.

That's why we're doing it. Super playful, just no, not hung up on any results. And yeah, go play on your bike. It's so rad.

I love it. Fantastic, man. Yeah. What a note to end it on. Before we do that, uh, is there any sponsors, industry partners, projects you'd like to mention?

Um, Katrina [01:06:00] Strand has always been super rad in being, uh, creative with some programs and kind of collaborating with her on some stuff. Always love, uh, working with her strand training.

um, definitely getting some great bikes from Transition has helped out this year a lot. Like I, I kind of have the, yeah, I have kind of the, the setup that I'd always been after.

It's like, I like to be very playful and, and hit bigger gaps occasionally. It's like pretty fun. And so having that like big travel mullet setup's really cool. Um, I went for two trail bikes this year because. Working in and outside the bike park, it's kind of nice to have a bike that can do both, um, and also, like, be good at both.

Um, if I have a downhill bike and that bike goes down and I'm working in the bike park, now I've got to sacrifice my trail bike. And then vice versa, trying to, like, trail ride on a downhill bike is kind of impossible. So if I blew up my trail bike and I had to work the next day. So that was kind of where it came from this year.

I have the Sentinel and the Patrol, and they're kind of similar, but [01:07:00] they're different enough I upped the travel on this one on the front. And it's. That's the beast. It's awesome. Um, yeah, so transition is great. Um, noon has been a new one this year. I can't even tell you how many times like I would not have gotten through the day if it wasn't just the hydration bit to it.

Like you can drink water all day, but it's different if you got like a little bit of something in there. Um, so having that on board this year was awesome as well. They're super cool. Thanks noon. And uh, Lisa Mason with her airbag and WFM bike women's free ride movement is just, she's the best. She's made it so great for anyone in Whistler who wants to like, try things and feels like some of that stuff we were talking about is kind of unattainable or just don't even know where to begin.

Having her in her airbag has made my own riding incredible, has made it easier for me to explain things to other people who are curious about learning and stuff. And I've just been so like, excited to watch that grow and continue to like, develop into something bigger and better. [01:08:00] We've been lacking that kind of freestyle training, uh, location.

Anywhere in the Cedar Sky for mountain biking, and I'm so stoked to see it start, uh, with things like Lisa's Bag, so, Lisa Mason. I'm a huge, uh, proponent of the WFM bike.

Yeah, such good work. That's another person I'd love to have on this podcast in the future. Man, talked about so much here. Where can people find you and follow along with these adventures online?

The majority

of what I share and what's going on with me is all on Instagram for the most part. I'm not really on too many others, so I'm msoosa. mtb, msoosa. mtb on Instagram. It's where you'll find the most. Um, link to my website on there.

The filmmaking stuff's on YouTube at the same handle, right?

Uh, the filmmaking stuff is on MichaelSussaCinema on YouTube.

It's kind of scattered a little bit, but if you're on my website, MichaelSussa. online, then you see it all. Like, all the videos, [01:09:00] everything like that, the coaching, it's all in one place. So that's kind of the

place to be. Fantastic. Well, thank you so much for coming down to Squamish today, coming for a fantastic ride with me and then sitting down for this conversation.

Dude, grateful for the opportunity, great times on bikes, great people, great weather. Can't get better than that. Can't complain, hey?

Yew! Thanks so much, dude. Cheers, dude. Right, go and watch the ride video on my YouTube. Strongly recommend it.

What's up guys, just one more thing before you hit the trails. If you enjoyed this podcast, please be sure to subscribe and don't be a stranger. I'd love to hear from you about any topics or any particular episodes that you enjoyed, and even about any guests that you'd like to hear me have on the show in the future.

You can find me on Instagram at The underscore Mind underscore Mountain. This podcast, mountain biking, and mindset are all things that are very close to my heart, so I feel super grateful to be able to share these conversations with you. [01:10:00] So much love to you all for taking the time to listen, and I'll see you next time.



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