Well I was the lucky git who won a space on a Jedi training session with the Singletraction raffle. I entered mainly because of the prize as I am a sucker for bike related competitions so had no real idea what I had entered or won until I saw Tony pull my name out of his helmet. I duly contacted Tony, and booked myself in for the September Jumps and Drops public course to eek out the end of summer and leant to jump on dry trails (if only…). It was my second trip up to UK Bike Skills, my first was back in August last year so plenty of time for me to forget everything and get back into my bad habits to keep Tony busy.
After a few beers on Friday I set off north from Brighton to see my parents for the weekend before heading down to Herts. These “few beers” left me underprepared in terms of spares (I had none) and even more underprepared in terms of wet weather kit as I hadn’t seen that there was an enormous storm brewing (I had short and cycle top), but pretty hungover if the truth be told. On Sunday the weather was still OK, just a bit wet, but come Monday morning as I set off, it was wet, windy, misty, cold, and generally pretty miserable. I missed the turning to Tony’s office, but at the last second saw a thoroughly wet and unhappy looking Nathan holding the gate open which did little to make me think this was a good idea in the wet. I pulled into the car park to meet Tony and the rest of the guys on the course. Tony was his usual “glass half full” self and got the coffee on while we waited for Shameer to arrive. Those that hadn’t been before were looking worriedly at Airline before being
told that nothing like that would be on the day’s menu! We started with a chat about body positioning and the skills required for riding before riding over a stick to check our skills (or lack of them in my case!). Without giving away too much about the coaching (just go along for yourself), we graduated from the stick to a small kerb sized drop and onto bigger and better drops. We then moved on to a different drop in the skill trail and some cornering to mimic real life conditions, then a step up, and then the tabletop and double. At this point we were all progressing along nicely at our own speed, but the weather was changing from just rain and steady headwind to a gusty cross wind and was becoming more difficult so we moved off to look at some big and steep drop offs which looked terrifying from the top, but once onto them seemed actually pretty easy.
Mentally taxing to take the plunge but then just a case of holding on and not braking till it is flat and straight easy. Easy! We spent a bit of time on the pump course too but this seemed to be directly into the wind and was very tiring so we moved back into working on cornering, before heading back to the tabletop and double. I cleared the double last time with Tony, but this time it just wasn’t to be and soon after I called it a day before I hurt myself. Soon after we all called it a day, tired, wet through, muddy, gritty, but all happy with what we took from the day. If it sounds like a lot to fit into about 5hrs, it was but it didn’t seem it at the time. I am pretty sore across my shoulders from the day but itching to get back on my bike, just a shame the weather is so miserable at the moment!
Everyone else went off for a pint, but I was meeting my wife to drive back to Brighton so headed off on my own. I started the
drive south but realised that I was absolutely broken so swapped into the passenger seat and drifted in and out of consciousness with a big grin, occasional waking as I woke with a start and smacked my knee off the dashboard. A bit like a dog chasing cars in its sleep, I was still trying to jump in my semi comatose state, and it was proving harder and more painful than when I was fully awake.
Big thanks to Tony for the coaching and Nathan for helping out. The work you put in to keep us going was really appreciated. Was a bit gutted to see that it was sunny the next day though!
And obviously a massive thanks to Singletraction. So when is the next raffle for me to enter and win….