Brushing-up on my mountain bike skills

This week, instead of our usual tour through the woods, our group from the club had a clinic to teach or remind us of the basic skills, led by the inestimable Marc Kuster. For some of us it was new information, and for others it was a matter of reminding us of how it ought to be done and trying to discard bad habits picked up over the years. We spent most of our time on a flat piece of grass and then in and round a big hole in the sand. The GPS tracks show that we went round and round in circles.

MTB clinic track

Sounds boring?  Far from it! It was in fact quite challenging, and we all agreed we had gained a lot from it. We spent most time weaving in and out of traffic cones to learn how best to control our position on the bike so that we could manage to turn in apparently impossibly tight bends. Then we covered hopping over logs before moving on to the sand pit where we found some steep slopes to climb up and down in a controlled fashion. So far it was for me mostly a matter of remembering to do it properly and above all being bothered to get out of the saddle for that greater degree of control. But right at the end we had a go at a drop-off which was just big enough to be a little out of my comfort zone (i.e. not very big at all really). The first time I went over it I sternly told my fingers to stay off the brake levers, but they paid no attention and I slowed down more than was a good idea.  Nevertheless, I still had enough momentum to carry me over without problems. The second time I know it was possible, so I could keep going without thinking about braking, which also meant that I could focus more on my position on the bike, so that went a lot more smoothly. And then the next time it was not even scary! They say that it is good to do a clinic like this every so often to brush up on faded skills and I must say that after Saturday I could not agree more. Now I'm eager for one with a little more difficulty, up to the next level!   Read more...