Spent a day at UKbikeskills today, once again my year of MTBing was set as being 'getting bigger and better' at riding, doing harder stuff and pushing my comfort zones.
The day started with learning basic but essential generic skills which we'd us throughout the whole day to acomplish main goals. Jedi noticed things early on in both our riding skills that needed addresing and sorting out, after working on them we did cornering drills and skills, which involved increasing speed and lean angle on the side of a very wet and slippy hill, doing very off camber turns on this ctuff resulted in both me spending time lying in the mud, but also me learning that in the right conditions and techniques i can massively increase my speed on corners. I was holding drifts of the back end for 10m of hill, switching to the opposite turn and holding the drift on them front wheel gripping but the rear right on (or slightly over) traction levels. This was in some ways the best part and the best skill i picked up today.
We then moved onto 'drops' which involved a bit of a rock garden, into a left hand berm then down to either a 12" drop or a 4' drop. Instantly i decided i had balls of steel and went for the 4' drop....First was a roll-over, which TBH was epically scary the first time, but like everything, the more you do, the more it becomes 2nd nature. Within 3 goes i asked permission to jump off it, and then did. 4' equates to carrying air over about 8-10' of distance, your front wheel i think must land 10' after the inital ledge.. this again was a bit bloody scary, but over time, became just fairly simple and effortless.
Next was tabletops... starting with babysteps and getting bigger. Apparently it's a 6' from face to face, you're landing on the back side of the jump... 20-30 mins later and we were jumping happily. For me, this again was brilliant, not because i was jumping, any fool can do that, just pedal and hang on. But i was jumping accurately, i was controlling the jump, the height, the distance, how i was landing and how i was taking off, i was playing about with body position to see how that affected flight and how to land with the best landing... The left hand side of the tabletop has been carved out into a 6' gap jump. Once again, balls took over and i soon went for it.... EEEK !!!! first time was all in my head and i just about landed it... but it wasn't pretty. It got prettier and prettier though and i was soon clearing the gap with ease and confidence.
It was then getting on in the afternoon and we took on a session of trails with jumps, but also learning other techniques. This on has a 9' long tabletop, which is preceeded by 2 other jumps/absorbs... but it's where you gain or lose the speed necessary to clear the larger tabletop. This is where i got VERY frustrated with myself, despite trying and trying i was only getting to about 8' distance and not quite getting the back edge !! time and time again !!!! However after this tabletop there's another 5 small 'sections' with a last big berm to finish... after 8-10 goes on this i was feeling the pace and breathing hard.
I had spotted a larger gap jump next to this, a man-made jobbie, with again a 6' distance between the two pointy bits.. however it had was was to me a larger and steeper leading face and landing zone... this was WAY out of my comfort zone earlier in the day, but you know what... i was taking it on. Quick discussion with JEDI and i had permission. Crust was standing looking at me as though to say "REALLY ?" but yeah, really... i wanted it.... I took a roll up to it from entry, just working out what line and position etc, looped round and then went for it.... got about 6' from the leading face and bottled it.. ARGGHHHHHHH totally bottled it and veered right and skipped it.... However, i looped round and decided it wasn't beating me and went for it again. This time i nailed it, well almost, a fraction too little speed, or arugably a little too small a technique and i just about nailed it, landed it and almost jumped out of my shorts.... my heart was pounding like a lunatic... the adrenaline was flying through me and i'd just jumped what i percieve to be a big boys jump.. it's all relative of course, added to the fact the pics don't look 10% as hard as the jump was to me.. but i cleared it. I then had a walk a relax and went for it again... However too slow an entry speed and sitting back a little meant i made a proper pigs ear of it, sort of landed and then crashed. I fell about laughing and called it a day.
It's hard to put into words just how much i picked up on the day,both in technique and confidence.. in simple terms it was exceptional.
Tired and happy.