Decoding Danny MacAskill (Biker)

Meet 23-year-old Danny MacAskill of Edinburgh, Scotland. He is, as one commentator put it, ridonkulously talented. The sheer creativity is off the charts. (Who else would do the ride-atop-the-spiky fence thing?)

What’s cooler is to think about how MacAskill built those circuits.  

We’re seeing the result of 12 years of hard, deep practice (see this BBC article for details). MacAskill practiced several hours each day (10,000 hours, anyone?). Most of all, however, this kid is extremely skilled at persistence.

That sounds weird–to be skilled at persistence. But consider this: for the opening trick–the ride along the spiky fence–MacAskill practiced for eight hours before he got it right. Eight hours.

How many people would do that? You’d think after seven hours and 45 minutes, most of us might have said, “You know, this one might not be possible after all.”) Persistence is a skill circuit like any other–one that MacAskill has practiced a lot.  

This reminds me of the time I was about seven and my brothers and I built a plywood jump at the bottom of our driveway. I had a red Schwinn with a sparkly silver seat–hot stuff. The first jump I caught maybe four whole inches of air, and was pretty sure I was going to be the next Evel Knievel. The second jump I biffed pretty bad, nearly got hit by a car, and then we decided to play in the backyard instead. Persistently, I’m sure.