Monday, 21 March 2011

Intermediate course 200311

What do you get if you combine 5 crashes, one lost bike computer, rain, one snapped chain and a near plunge in the canal? The answer is: A surprisingly nice day! Mark, Andy, Martin, Steve and another Steve is part of a local group who normally go out riding together so were used to technical and rocky terrain and lots of climbing. During the long climb in the morning we dealt with power assisted front wheel lifts and wheelies and track stands before moving onto the steep sharp slopes near Mellor Cross to exemplify some common techniques for different kind of descents.

We stopped for lunch at my place to try and dry out before starting on the afternoons main activities which were bunny hopping and jumping. Despite some kind walkers trying to remove our obstacles everyone in the group managed to lift both front and back wheels without using SPDs, illustrating the need to use their body weight to maneuver the bike. A few of them managed to put the sequence together in one jump to perform the very useful bunny hop. Martin (who was thoroughly unlucky throughout the entire day!) managed to implement the back wheel lift (by unintentionally touching his front brake) to the extent that he flew over the bars a couple of times to the horror of everyone watching which led to a somewhat cautious approach to the remaining bunny hopping session.

With the basics in place we then did some jumping off a 1 foot high drop to not only try and get the timing right for the pump but also try and control the landing. Both Steves were in their element at this point extending their time in the air with each attempt. Following the jumping it was a matter of exposing the group to increasingly scary looking terrain to push the boundaries of what they would normally consider ridable. We started with the big rooty drop which everyone who weren't chronically unlucky rode very well , which was followed by a stretch of muddy and very slippy singletrack which saw me coming off my bike!  At the bottom there were a few more challenges, including a sheer looking drop that the Steves couldn't resist having a go at and I'll never forget the verbal exclamations from one of them as he rode past the point of no return and seemed to fear for his life as he quite elegantly made it down.

A combined wish of wanting more challenges and finishing the day in the pub saw us heading up for some interesting terrain near the canal in Strines to practise the importance of looking in the right place while riding down big steps on a sharp bend. After a couple of more crashes and one moment of terror as one of the Steves looked like he was going to end up in the canal we wrapped the day up and the group went for a very well deserved pint!

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