About a year and half ago, I bought my first mountain bike. I’ve been longing for the chance to take a skills clinic ever since, partly because I do nothing intuitively and party because I get a bit freaked out on technical terrain, and know there must be a better way.
This year I found one that worked for me, and it was a great excuse to check out trails near Santa Cruz. As a physical therapist, I was really digging all of the day 1 instruction on body mechanics and balance on the bike. Our coach, Dylan, would hold our bikes in static positions and let us feel out our positioning for optimal balance- downhill, uphill, and cornering. We started working on track stands and ratcheting, and learned some tricks for tight corners. Thought about movement as moving the bike underneath us, rather than our bodies moving on the bike.
Lots of drills in the parking lot, then off to Wilder Ranch to try out our new moves.
It was really eye-opening!
On day 2, the group thinned out to just those who were looking for more advanced skills. This was great, because we got more time with the instructor, more repetitions and feedback. And we were joined by a woman who rolled up on a 170mm travel Juliana, something I definitely don’t see every day. She rocked!
I can analyze my own movement with video and photo till the cows come home now, but definitely need a lot more trail time to perfect what I’ve learned. I’m even more excited to get out there now that I have renewed confidence my bike handling.
My takeaways from the clinic:
We are so lucky in Southern Oregon with a huge variety of trail- Mt Ashland, J-ville, MOTR, Spence, Oakridge not that far, and on and on…. A lot of these riders live in the SFO area and have to save mountain biking for the weekend, with lots of driving. Santa Cruz has sweet stuff, but I still don’t think it compares to what we have in terms of fun and variety.
Skills clinics will make you think about your riding in a new way. No matter what level you’re at, you’ll find something worth working on.
This sport needs more women. I think more women’s only skills clinics are needed for that reason. And we need some in Southern Oregon.
Mountain biking rules. You get to use body awareness in a way that doesn’t happen on a road bike, and it’s interesting to keep pushing yourself to be better and ride more difficult terrain. I’m hooked forever.
See you on the trails!