Loads of us turned up!
I had expected a smaller turnout until we got this established but we started off with a crowd. It was a short ride to Rob’s first planned task at the kerb at the entrance. This looked somewhat tame to the more experienced riders but everyone played the game and the ‘keen to improve’ riders all learned the basics of moving over the bike and letting it drop horizontally in a neutral position. Later I heard a few opinions marking this as the best skill to learn for the improvers and perhaps the best reminder for the more able.
Next stop was the reduced jump at the Witches Table which split the group into some riders riding some repeated loops of jump after jump and the improvers transferring kerb skills to a trail. This was a big step up, or step down really, from the kerb drop and good riders struggle to find the correct balance of speed and position. All the improvers got there in the end but some faster and some slower. Unexpectedly some of the more experienced group used the time to perfect the drop skill and I was surprised that a few riders managed to find the ‘making it look easy’ level.
Running on to some trails to try and include the practice took us up and around the high trails and everyone in the group warmed up again. Using any new skill on the track is hard at first but everyone was trying to find lumps and bumps wherever possible and so as lights began to turn on flashes of light flickered up and down through the trees. We stopped at some of the new obstacles that could be included as part of the Big Dog this year if the track saboteurs leave them alone.
This was a bigger drop which forced each rider to improve their balance especially if they wanted to ride it very slowly. Alex tried to ride almost stationary at one point and a couple of other riders managed it pro-perfect but I think this was due to my generous heckling. I was surprised that everyone managed such a large drop so well and that all the improvers group had raised their technical skills so much. As there was some play time I also realised that some riders have an over-abundance of skills that need to be used in the future to teach the rest of us how to wheelie, jump clear over large obstacles, attempt a wheelie-drop, tail-whips and surely someone can teach me to balance on my front wheel and turn a one-eighty on a tight track.
This may be a challenge too far. For me. And for someone else’s patience too.
The first ride was always going to be a little slow but we should be able to progress a little quicker now to make it more interesting for the experienced riders and add a little more continuity to the whole ride. There should be something for everyone to improve and as Rob begins to venture further afield there could be a new challenge for even the best riders. As long as there is the odd chicken run we should manage to keep the whole group riding all the fun stuff so come along even if you are not quite sure.