With the fundamentals in the books, I was eager to get into the advanced section of the weekend and anxious to see how ALL of us riders in attendance were going to progress through the day. There was a very mixed group in the class, and skills ranged from beginner to intermediate. I was surprised how much I personally learned on Day 1, but was even more surprised how much some of the less experienced riders had advanced and progressed through the program.
When looking at the second day’s itinerary, the high-speed corning and technical climbing/descending sections were at the top of the list for me. These are areas I’ve been looking to improve for quite some time. I’ve always been able to hang with my friends in the straights, but after we hit a few corners I’m left in the dust. I was anxious to learn some useful skills, and hopefully progress. The program is very progressive and is always building every step of the way. There was very little down time where we weren’t working on techniques or learning skills. The fundamentals really start to make sense when you apply them in the more complicated techniques out on the trail.
Now I know what some of you might be thinking, because frankly I was guilty of this myself. Those fundamentals? Yeah I got those down! I ride black diamond trails all the time so I’m gooood. Well, I was pleasantly surprised to find that I wasn’t as good as I thought. Even advanced riders aren’t above a class like this.
The fundamentals class proved to be very valuable. I’ve never had any formal training on a bike. What this brought to my eyes was that even though I’m a technically solid rider and can hold my own on most trails, I had definitely acquired some bad habits over the years. Despite my old habits, the instructors were never negative. They never put us down or said, “Here’s why you’re wrong,” instead, they focused on ways to improve and overcome my shortcomings with productive alternatives.
One of the biggest areas we focused on with my riding was something I never even knew needed to be corrected. Since getting home and riding my local trails I realized it has been holding me back for way too long. I was guilty of sitting too high on the bike. Our instructor Randy has been coaching for a long time, and has always worked with the taller guys in the group (like me) to get lower. Throughout the course I had him in my ear, “Get lower, drop those hips, bend your knees.” It’s funny because it honestly proved to be one of the most valuable things I learned from the clinic and did the most to improve my riding all around. Every time I ride a trail now, I hear Randy in the back of my head. So, thank you Randy!