If you've not, then come back to this story in 6 hours and 35 minutes: you can thank me later. For those of you who have enjoyed being ensconced in the beautifully complex, yet dangerously fragile mind of that prodigious little orphan introvert, Beth Harmon, then this story will make a whole lot more sense.
Chess players that play at any level beyond Beginner, plan and execute each and every game as a pathway, rather than a series of moves and counter moves. The better you get, the further ahead in the game you can see, plan, and execute.
But the ability to plan chess pathways and, thus, become an aficionado requires the development of a critical skill called Internal Representation.
Internal Representation is the ability re-present the outside world internally, in your mind's eye.
Well, guess what? The ability to ride Hard Enduro requires you to develop that very same skill.
You didn't see that coming did you? Neither did I.
Adopting the strategy of Internal Representation, Neil Price had planned the moves to 'Check Mate' this creek line before he had even thought about releasing the clutch.
A good rider need not attack an obstacle. An aggressive move is only ever going to be met with an aggressive counter-move. And in Hard Enduro that counter move is the landscape throwing itself back at you in a very painful way.
Neil teaches you to look not at the obstacle, but through it; to take it into your mind's eye and find a pathway to annihilate it, before you have even moved an inch.
A good chess player can look at between 5 and 20 moves ahead, following an opening move, such as the Queens Gambit. And when tackling an obstacle, a good Hard Enduro rider needs to do the same.
See in the substrate the traction that the other riders don't see.
At the base of the first hill, at the beginning of the day, Neil recreated the obstacle in his mind and picked his pathway through it: not as the direction he was going to travel from the bottom to the top, but as a series of moves toward an end point.
Each move required him to see where he needed to get the real wheel; a point that would lend some traction and move him into the next position. That, coupled with body position and clutch control, enabled him to creep up an incredibly unstable rock face in a few minutes.
To attack that same rock face without a plan could leave you floundering around under your bike far longer, costing you an incredible amount of time in a race situation.
This photo captures the first two meters of a 10-meter rubble strewn incline. And in this first two meters are the first three of several traction points.
In chess, the Queen's Gambit usually evolves into a strategic game rather than an all-out tactical battle. And that, Neil will tell you, is exactly how your Hard Enduro event needs to play out. Because if you don't show some patience and take the time to practice some internal representation you will suffer the Hard Enduro version of a Slav Defense: and you can only imagine how that is going to end for you.
On an incline like this wouldn't you rather play the strategic game?