Monday, 28 November 2011

Beginners course 271111

Time for one more course before the end of this years mountain biking season. The delightful and enthusiastic participants turned out to be Anna, Helen and Sarah who sometimes ride together and Mike who recently bought himself a lovely full-suspension bike as a treat not having done much off road riding since being a kid.

The weather didn't look promising with gale force winds and rain but just in time for the start of the course the sun came out and despite a chill to the air it was quite pleasant to be outside.

Things progressed very nicely with harder and harder terrain being ridden and it was nice to hear comments such as "That looked much harder than it was!" as we progressed to bigger drop-offs. Anna's spinning classes had given her the edge on the climbs as she was making good use of the new found technique of power assisted front wheel lifts. Towards the end we popped in at mine for a cup of tea and brownies, giving my husband the task to fix Sarah's brakes which had completely stopped working at this point.

All that remained was the last blast down the hill stopping for the last obstacle of the day. It was a delight to see all four of them riding the last rooty drop really comfortably, especially Sarah who after quite a few aborted attempt finally went for it and rode it extremely well and controlled. I would be very surprised if any of them had to walk a tricky section in the Peak District ever again!

Thursday, 3 November 2011

Intermediate course 021111

It was a great day with David coming from near York attending the intermediate course given to him as a birthday present from his wife. He quickly picked up on little tips and tricks to take his already very good skills set even further, this made easier by his nonexistent fear of throwing himself off anything presented in front of him. We worked especially on his manual front wheel lifts as this was something he hadn't managed to perfect by himself. With fitness not being a limiting factor (he not only cycles but also runs several marathons a year!) we progressed very quickly through the day which of course necessitated harder obstacles!

As people who have been on the courses know, I always spend along time explaining why it is wise to move your weight far behind the saddle for large steps and drops! I must have had my mind on other things as today it was my turn to go over the handlebars! The moment of balancing on the front wheel with the forks slowly and unavoidably compressing beneath me until the center of gravity passed the front wheel hub and I tumbled very ungracefully down the remaining steep wooden steps will certainly come to mind next time the intermediate courses requires a visit to this particular section and trust me I'll certainly emphasize the importance of moving your weight really far backwards before anyone including myself get on the bike to ride this bit!

Tuesday, 1 November 2011

Beginners course 311011

I always try to tailor the skills day to the participants and when the level of experience is good as it was in the case of Marc and Mark it was clear that what started as a pure beginners course was going to finish up as more of an intermediate course. Everything was mastered so quickly so instead of just doing manual front wheel lifts we ended up practicing bunny hops to give them something harder to do.

Descending on rocky terrain was also covered and as usual it was trying to look a bit further ahead and relax more that saw them turning from slightly cautious riders to riding faster and more confidently. The highlight of the day was watching them have a go at track standing. After I demonstrated it and explained how to do it they had a go and the look on their faces of mixed surprise and delight after over 10 seconds of balancing still on the bike on their very first attempt was priceless!

The day was not all pleasure though as Marc slipped of his pedal on the hardest obstacle and not only tore the top of his sock clean off but also put a very deep gash in his shin. One of the drawbacks of flat spiky pedals I must confess as I normally speak only of the advantages of flat pedals for the courses. After a bit of first aid he was back on the bike and we moved on to jumping as we still had plenty of time left. The injury didn't hold him back and he did some really good jumps off a drop. Mark wasn't far behind having initially taken it a little more cautiously but once persuaded to lower his seat post he felt the confidence to use more speed and also experience the fun of jumping rather than rolling stuff.