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Perfect or Permanent?

Iíve taken up woodworking as a hobby and I think Iíve advanced to the neophyte beginner stage. I want to get better so Iíve been practicing, especially making mortise and tenon joints. No matter how much time I spent, the joints never seemed to fit exactly right and they looked even worse. I kept trying to make better joints, but the results didnít seem to change. The cuts still didnít come out straight and the joints ended up loose fitting with noticeable gaps. I was no closer to the perfection I saw in woodworking magazines and videos regardless of how many times I repeated the process. Isnít practice supposed to make perfect?.

Actually, practice only makes permanent. Only perfect practice can make us perfect and that means practicing the right processes the right way. For me to get better, I had to learn to hone my chisels to they cut smoothly and more accurately. Using a mallet designed for chisels might also help improve my results. Obviously I needed to practice the right procedure in order to improve my skills as a woodworker.

Thatís also true about our riding skills. Only perfect practice can make us perfect and that means practicing the right processes the right way. But arenít we already practicing every time we make the wheels on our bikes go round and round? We certainly have the opportunity to use every ride as a means to enhance our proficiency and approach a more flawless riding skill set.

When an incident occurs that makes us feel uncomfortable, we need to evaluate what happened and what we might do differently the next time weíre faced with this type of incident. By finding a better way to handle this situation, we can purposely practice the new mental or physical technique so it will be ready when needed.

An even greater challenge revolves around our most critical save-your-bacon skills. These are the ones that we donít use very often, but must be immediately available and accurately performed when called upon. For example, we probably donít have to make a lot of quick stops during our rides. If we do, we may want to review our mental riding strategies.

But when the need arises, we must be able to rapidly execute the proper technique. Locking the brakes or laying the bike down is not a viable alternative. Regularly practicing this skill in a parking lot can help embed the process in our muscle memory so it is automatically available.

Swerving around an object in our path of travel is a similar skill that requires purposeful practice to ensure it is always ready and our muscles will react correctly. Two quick counter steer maneuvers will be much quicker and more effective than attempting to body steer our way to the clear path.

Practice only makes permanent. By practicing the correct techniques, be they mental or physical skills, and performing each procedure the same way every time, we can become even better riders. Just like my woodworking, the bottom line is more confidence and even more enjoyable results.

Ride Smart! Ride Safe!