I started this whole Leadville madness two summers ago right about this time. I never raced in a race. I never owned a MTB. I certainly never raced a MTB.
Then I built up my MTB and started riding it. And through/during that process I discovered an essential truth about mountain biking: You are going to fall, regularly. I have fallen off my road bike exactly twice in 7 years. I cannot count the number of times I have fallen off my MTB. In fact, very early on in this blog I talked about sending myself to the ER after crashing my MTB in my driveway, while doing a wheelie (sigh).
Coreen saw all of this and experienced taking me to the ER (well and picking up our son from school on another occasion when I crashed my bike and could not get there). When I suggested that maybe a MTB lesson would be a good idea she jumped on it for my birthday. It was arrange through a bike shop in Lake Placid (High Peaks Cyclery). But because of my knee, then the Wilmington Whiteface 100k, and then the rain, it was put off. Until today!
Yup. Today was my day to learn how to ride a mountain bike. And in the “its a small world” category, my instructor was the son of the shop owner, Collin. That’s not the small world thing. Nope. Collin’s brother and sister were both students of mine a couple of years ago at Clarkson. Now it was time for a little family revenge. Funny.
When I drove up to Placid I did have a conversation with myself.
“You know you are going to hit the ground today right?”
“You are likely to go home bruised and scrapped.”
“You need to be OK with that.”
“I know. I am OK with that. But how about we don’t break anything important? Like bones.”
“OK. I’m good with that.”
“Great. Well lets have fun then.”
Collin and I talked about what I wanted to accomplish (general bike handling, descending, climbing). We ran down a really technical descent and I talked about how I did mind falling, but I didn’t want to hurt myself. We agreed to find some less technical stuff.
Anyway. There were a couple of nice things about this lesson. I got to ride some new/different single track. We talked about bike handling and positioning. And I got a chance to try some of the things we talked about out. There was a lot of riding, alot of climbing, and a lot of descending. We rode some steep stuff, some technical stuff, some sweet banked stuff, some really really rooty stuff.
I crashed twice. Both times I went over the front of my handlebars (i.e. endo!). The first time it was a big root. The second time it was a big rock. The second time was a hoot. I came up to the rock, pulled on the front wheel and over I went. But I didn’t really hit the ground hard. Nope. Left foot stayed clipped in. Set lodged on a tree and I hung more or less suspended from my bike upside down. Collin heard me swear and came back to help me get off of my bike (not a simple trick when upside down).
Best moment of the day was when Collin crashed right after I did my second endo. Made me feel better about myself. We both agreed that we were getting tired and sloppy, and it was time to quit.
What I learned? Well lots. But most important weight back and low. Its important to control how much weight you have on the front tire. Oh and there are lots of ways to endo. More than I knew 😉 That of course leads to the final thing I learned: some times it is easier to go faster than slower. A little momentum helps a lot (see second endo over rock).
I’m going to have to practice a lot more. I do believe that I have committed myself to a race next summer with a lot of single track in it.