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kottke.org posts about Matt Jones (bike)

1000 Fails Lead to a Single Success

posted by Jason Kottke   Feb 09, 2021

Pro freestyle mountain bike rider Matt Jones wants to try a new trick, something no one has ever done before. In this video, you see him go through the entire process of bringing a new idea or invention into the world:

  1. The idea. It’s based on a previous trick but is more difficult; standing on the shoulders of giants. He suspects it’s possible, but doesn’t know for sure. Only one way to find out…
  2. The prototype. Jones takes a bike frame (no wheels, pedals, etc.) to the local swimming pool to do flips with it off the diving board. The price of failure is low, so it’s easy to try out all sorts of different things. The mad inventor is gawked at by the public but presses on.
  3. Visualization. Now that his body knows how it feels to perform the motion in the pool, he can perform the trick in his mind over and over again, syncing brain & body. He’s starting to believe.
  4. Trial and error. With the basics down, it’s time to tinker with all the different variables — over and over and over and over and over and over again. An airbag breaks his falls, enabling experimentation.
  5. Failure. You see Jones try this trick over and over again in the video and very few of them are successful — and I bet a lot more failure happened off camera. Hundreds of tries, hundreds of fails. This is the way.
  6. Self-doubt. The trial & error, failure, and self-doubt stages all overlap. You can see him struggling with this on top of the tower. He still believes but this trick is dangerous. Body and mind are battling hard.
  7. Success. It all comes together at last.

This was one of three new tricks that Jones wanted to do last year and you can see more of his progress and process with those in these three videos. (thx, matt)