Sunday, 27 March 2011

Beginners course 270311

Teaching mountain bike skills is always interesting and often gives you an insight into people's fears, attitudes and previous experiences. Today was very interesting as Kathryn came to improve on her core skills. She struck me as a very confident, fit and able cyclist having years of road cycling experience. She got on very well with adapting all the core skills, applying both climbing and descending techniques well on the easier descents, but after a while it was obvious that there was an underlying fear preventing her from relaxing and increasing the difficulty in the terrain. It turned out that Kathryn suffered from a pronounced fear of heights, also present in her day-to-day life, as well as other sports such as fell running etc. Not being a psycologist, but still aware of the physical responses to do with severe phobias (show me a bit spider and I'll run a mile , not kidding!!) I decided not to push Kathryn too hard as the phobia was not specifically related to the mountain biking but instead something that should be addressed separately. We still managed to do most of the skills on the course, such as manual front wheel lifts, narrow singletrack and smaller drop offs, proving that she had picked up the techniques well and will be able to ride most of the terrain she will encounter. I often try and push people to ride as much of the technical stuff as possible, but sometimes there is a limit to what people should be pushed into doing and today was one of those days. Despite not proving herself on the most technical terrain Kathryn can now at least be assured that once heights won't bother her psycologically then her core skills will be more than sufficient for anything nature might throw at her!

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