Every so often I get a little nervous when someone come on the course that clearly has done so much more riding than myself. And yesterday was such a day when I met Andrew, who for the world of mountain biking and outdoor sports clothing is what Richard Branson is for everything else. Not only had he mountain biked since the sports was invented and cycled across the Sahara desert, but also organised the first Polaris race 20 years ago which then was the first mountain bike orienteering event in the world.
Although first quite worried why on earth he had decided to come for a course here, I relaxed quite quickly as it was clear that not only was he a really nice chap but also he was more than happy to listen and ask questions and work on the little things that could be improved on to make him an even better rider. Instead of just running through the standard intermediate course route, I decided to skip a lot of the easier stuff to concentrate mainly on two things, bunny hopping and scary stuff, although advise on power assisted front wheel lifts and trackstanding was also proved to be helpful and quickly absorbed. The advantage of learning to bunny hop is that you start using the movement of you body to tilt the bike in the air. This will make you able to relax when dealing with jumps as you feel you are still in control of the bike despite it being airborne. Andrew managed to involve his body more and did beautiful front and back wheel lifts, although some more practise will be needed for turning the movements into reliable bunny hops.
The other part of the day was spent on doing very technical challenges, such as rooty drops, really tight bends on steep steps and wet rooty turns. Many of them illustrated the need to force yourself to look where you want to go and to do it as early as you can to make the bike follow in time and Andrew didn't take long to put this into practise. Having a big Iron Man event coming up in Germany in six weeks time he opted out of the last couple of big drops as he was worried about getting injured and instead demonstrated how to take photos that actually make the terrain look as steep as it feels in reality instead of making it look flat. Below you can see he really knew what he was doing taking one of me doing the last drop of doom!