Wednesday 19 August 2009

Downhill mountaining biking and project management - what do they have in common?

Having just spent 2 weeks mountain biking in Snowdonia National park in Wales, I have downhill single tracks in my brain, my dreams or nightmares are still filled with those hair raising and thrilling moments.

Racing downhill over a rocky single track trail on the side of a mountain (albeit only 700 meters high) on a bicycle (albeit with back as well as front suspension), is surprisingly very similar to project management.

1. First you have to assess the current situation and variables which are going to impact the ride. Make a mental note of things you can and can't change (like the weather, terrain, unmovable obstacles and the obstacles that can be ridden over/around), assess the risks and plan accordingly.

2. Secondly you have to pick a course, a line down the single track, which could mean taking the less challenging line with less obstacles. Decide what your goal is, generally to get to the bottom in one piece as fast as you can. Don't hesitate.

3. Thirdly, don't hesitate, just go for it. Start. Get up some speed, gain momentum, which you need to get over some obstacles. Having some speed is going to help you keep course more easily and have less chance of a fall. Don't pull on the breaks to much and certainly not while you are actually on top of an obstacle.

4. Fourth, change your weight on the bike depending on the terrain and obstacle, lean back on steep sections, hang off the back of the bike to prevent you from flying over the handle bars. Stay flexible, keep your arms and legs bend to enable you to react quickly to unforeseen obstacles, if necessary change course to stay on the bike.

5. Lastly, sometimes you just need to hang on for dear life, take a leap of faith, don't hesitate, don't break too hard and don't put your feet down, the momentum will keep you on track and keep you on course for your goal.

By following these basics, the ride will be more enjoyable that way and less likely to end in hospitalization.

Obviously there are many more factors to project management but the basics in downhill mountain biking are not that dissimilar to the basics of project management in my view.

Enjoy the ride!

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