MTBSkills Tasmania – The Master

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Even before today, I liked Su Sprott, despite having never actually met her.

My reason for this is selfish … she often “Liked” stuff I put up on my Tassie Trails Facebook Page and I am so easily pleased by stuff like that.

But today, I was finally going to meet Su … and then she was going to teach my how to ride my mountain bike … properly I mean.

Su showing how to go around a corner. 
I had previously crashed into that tree.

Yep, even I had realised that just putting a big smile on my face and hoping I’d survive whatever obstacle was in front of me wasn’t classed as a method of ‘technical riding’.  Unless stupidity is a class of technical riding … nope, I just Googled it and apparently stupidity is just stupidity … and a reasonably good way of winning a Darwin Award.

Realising therefore that I could probably benefit from some actual tuition in the more specific skills of how to ride a mountain bike, today I was going to do a Masterclass with MTBSkills.  You can go back and read that again, or in case you don’t, let me repeat it .. I went and did a MasterClass …  which makes me a master. 

The particular subject just happened to be cornering.

Did I mention that my mountain biking superstar status* doesn’t extend to going around corners? 

So there I was, and as the other two participants (obviously daunted by the Masterclass status of the course) had ‘postponed’ at the last moment, it was just Su and me this afternoon which meant I got three hours of one on one coaching for the price of a few takeaway meals.  Sweet.

After going through some of the basics, including a few warm up exercises, we headed up into the tracks (the course was run at Clarence MTB Park) and to be honest it’s hard to be modest of my abilities as I kicked butt on the first few corners.  I was the guru (my diagnosis, not Su’s, in fact I think her rather more accurate description was that “I didn’t look too nervous”).

But then we got further up the hill into some of the steeper and more technical corners and suddenly I remembered why I was there:  I couldn’t get around corners.

I got to the first real ‘technical’ corner and wimped out half way up, then I failed to get down it … not once, not twice, but four times … well I sort of, kind of, got around it on the fourth time, but only because I unclipped and wobbled my way around, but I wouldn’t count that as a win.

We basically then worked out way around the old XC route in the park, and at each switchback we’d walk the corner, discuss any special issues (roots, rocks, ruts, steepness, my deteriorating confidence …) and then we’d discuss the line and where I should be looking and off I’d go. 

I found this a very useful way of thinking my way through each corner, and I think because of this I managed to cycle up (and down) several switchbacks out on the cross country course that I’ve never been able to manage before.

I suspect if my gears hadn’t been jumping around like a bloody grasshopper, I would have bagged a few others as well.

After working our way around the switchbacks, we were well ahead of schedule, so Su basically offered to teach me whatever I wanted to learn in the last 45 minutes, and so begun lessons in how to get the front wheel over obstacles without having to lift it every time, how to do ‘pump’ riding and techniques for getting up and down larger drops (something that had always confounded me).

It was a super session, especially as it was finished off with chocolate muffins and cold drinks when we got back to the car.  :). 

Furthermore, I’m now claiming master class status, and am therefore thinking of changing my website to “” … or maybe I should get around those corners first? 

* Just for the record my “superstar status” also doesn’t extend to anything else related to mountain biking … and as Kim keeps suggesting to me that I should be more honest, I also have to say that my superstar status doesn’t actually extend to anything else either (unless not getting zombified qualifies?).  I also didn’t really crash into that tree as noted in the picture.  I just thought it would be funny to say I did.

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