Thursday, 21 July 2011

One-to-one skills day 210711

What a wonderful day! Sun shining, warm weather, pub lunch and a cheerful participant! What more could you ask for! When Brian contacted me about doing a one to one session to come to grips with certain types of descents that repeatedly had defeated him, he particularly mentioned very steep and  narrow ones. Naturally I planned the day to take in the narrowest and steepest slopes in the area but also included other skills such as power assisted front wheel lifts, track standing, bunny hopping and jumps along the way.

It was immediately obvious that Brian needed to look further ahead to not only keep a straighter line but also to be able to relax more while descending. You could tell he didn't enjoy the terrain but kept a brave face as he repeatedly had to go up and down the slopes. He quickly got encouraged by the improvement as each time he had another go he rode better and more confidently. Same kind of improvements were seen on the drop offs. Once we lowered the saddle he was able to find the balanced low center of gravity slightly behind the saddle position that he had struggled to find before in his riding and once he was following me he would ride anything. It was harder for me to make him have a go at some of the very scary looking obstacles at the end as the longer he hesitated the more he managed to persuade himself that having a go wasn't a good idea. I was really pleased when right at the end he rode one of the quite tricky series of drops despite initial hesitation!

Monday, 18 July 2011

Intermediate course 170711

The torrential rain didn't abandon us for Sunday's intermediate course either. This time I was joined by an undeterred Helen who wanted to get the most out of her lovely Orange 5 that she recently had acquired. I also had arranged for my friend Julian to come along to potentially provide some demos of stuff in case my wrist which I injured a couple of weeks ago decided to flare up.

Together we fought through rain and mist climbing to the top of the hill  while Julian managed to learn to wheelie remarkably well and Helen was improving on her power assisted wheel lifts. Once up at the top we used the little quarry for various types of descending. Helen's confidence grew once she started to look further ahead and able to let go of the brakes. The rocky and loose terrain was a very different surface from what Helen usually rides at trail centers and gradually she was able to trust her bike's ability to roll over the big boulders. Slow speed drops was no problem for her as she already was moving about on the bike perfectly.

Part of the afternoon was spent practicing bunny hopping. This was something Julian also wanted to be able to do as he mostly up until now had relied on speed hops. Both Helen and Julian (and Julian's wife Jane who also happened to join us!) very quickly were able to lift both front wheel and then rear wheel over the obstacles. This practiced the sequence of weight shifting on the bike necessary for performing the bunny hops. By approaching the obstacles slightly faster they were forced to use only a single "pump" of the bike for both movements. While Helen and Jane will need a little more practice to get some height into their bunny hops Julian impressed us all by bouncing over the obstacles making it look easy! Helen was able to "pump" the bike extremely well and since using SPDs it was only fair to teach her speed hops, something she put to immediate good use by bombing every puddle with her rear wheel splashing everyone in the vicinity!

The pumping action was put to further use by getting some nice air while jumping of a small drop and we finished the day off nicely with a slippery singletrack descent down to the bottom of the valley.

Beginners course 160711

They say that statistically fewer passengers book on flights that crash. Well there must have been similar premonitions regarding the courses this weekend as only one person had booked on each day which saved a few people from having to experience underwater mountain biking. Not so fortunate was Beccy who came to brush up on her skills in preparation for a mountain biking holiday in Slovenia, where apparently you can even go mountain biking in caves! (Sounds a great deal nicer than the underwater option on offer here!) However a bit of water didn't deter Beccy as she progressed quickly learning all the little tricks and techniques that makes mountain biking more fun and exciting and trying the skills out under the hardest of conditions! I think the photo kind of says it all!