Saturday, June 2, 2012

Day 2 of mountain biking skills camp

We started off day 2 of our BetterRide skills camp in the parking lot of an elementary school.  We first went over what we learned the day before and did some practice drills of a coaster wheelie and a pedal wheelie. I'm still not getting it down but I did feel myself do it right a couple of times.  The best thing I'm taking away from this camp is that I actually need to do the drills over and over for the next couple of months (maybe even do the drills on a monthly basis after that) before I nail it down and it's second nature.  So this is what I know I need to practice in my drill sessions:
1. Body position, getting down into the "attack" position so my body is ready to act as suspension (elbows out, chin up, lower my body with my back straight and my weight over the bottom bracket)
2. Coaster wheelie: on a downhill, shift from the attack position by pushing my hands into the handlebars, arms fully straight and shifting my weight back behind the seat so the front wheel lifts up
3. Pedal wheelie: uphill or flat terrain, same idea as the coaster wheelie but this time use one pedal stroke to help lift the front wheel up
4. Vision, vision, vision, imagining that I'm going over the obstacles I see instead of staring right down at them, allowing my peripheral vision to take care of obstacles.  Looking 3-5 seconds ahead.  This has been tremendous, I knew I needed to look down the trail and not just at my front tire but I never realized just how much easier it is to continually do this and get over trail faster

Today, we worked on cornering and braking.  For the cornering, there was a lot to put together to get it right and I already know what trails I want to try this at home because I tend to slow down tremendously on corners.  One thing I learned that I didn't know before was that counterbalancing on the bike is dependent on your hips, your hands and your elbows (well,. yes, your whole body but if I can remember these 3 areas, I think my cornering will get better.  Counter steering also seem non-intuitive but once I tried it, I surprised myself with how strong of an effect it had on the quickness and sharpness of the turn.  For braking, the best thing I learned was that you can use your front brake tremendously and not endo just by getting down low in the attack position.  It was pretty cool to go down a steep hill slowly and not be afraid I was going to fall off.  After practicing in the parking lot, we went back to Patapsco State park to try our new skills on the trails.  Cornering went well as did going down a steep hill. I was not so successful going up the steep hill but I know what I need to practice.  We also encountered a few obstacles (log stack and logs) and worked on our wheelies to get over the obstacles.  I was able to get over the log stack but only got my front wheel over the logs, I know I'm not shifting my weight correctly but this goes back to working on my wheelies.  We continued to ride the trails and got to another steep section that I walked over because they put up a scary log bridge, but once I got to the other side, I couldn't get back on my bike properly (it was going downhill) and I ended up falling over and banging my right knee into some rocks.  Even with a freaking knee pad on, I hurt myself and the area right below my kneecap started swelling up and is currently on ice.  It doesn't look so bad but it does feel stiff.  But as they say: it could have been worse if I hadn't been wearing the knee pads!  That was it for Day 2, tomorrow will be our 3rd and last day. I'm enjoying this camp so far, and would recommend it to others who want to be better mountain bikers. 
Other drills to work on:
5. Cornering
6. going over obstacles slowly to work on technique, I tend to rely on momentum to get over things and that doesn't build any finesse, so for this I will try getting over curbs without touching them with my wheels

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