If you read my first blog article you’ll know that I’m an ovate, middle aged (I think 51 still counts as middle age) guy chronicling my attempt at achieving some (hopefully, any) competency in the sport of mountain biking, while keeping everyone up to date on the progress of the Richmond Regional Ride Center. If not, welcome to my world.
Apprehension……just a little
Ego……………….better leave that at home
Aerobic base…….HAH! Haven’t seen that in years!
After many years of racing and wrecking motorcycles, and not wishing to add to the list of things in my body that set off airport screening equipment, I thought I’d try to be a little smarter this time around and try a learning curve approach instead of a learning right angle method of instruction.
Since my group of friends believes that having a cast on a limb is as normal as socks on your feet, I thought I’d look for a kinder, gentler path to enlightenment than the “try-wreck-heal-repeat” method that I’m way too familiar with. I made the decision to find myself some professional help that wouldn’t try to kill me, so I reached out to Ride Kore.
When I read the line on the Ride Kore website, “Learning how to ride should be fun, not intimidating. That’s why our mountain bike skills clinics focus on “approachable” and “progressive” coaching that enables riders to develop at their own pace and comfort level.”
I thought, yeah this might not hurt too much and they’re probably familiar with fat old guy trail extraction if need be.
Dave looking good
Truth be told, I’ve known Dave Kern and Ryan Thompson (the guys behind Ride Kore) since the beginning of the RRRC project, they have been indispensable members of our team for quite a while. You can read all about the official Ride Kore philosophy and mission on their website, but to sum it up they are two of the most knowledgeable and skilled bicycle coaches in our neck of the woods. Both Dave and Ryan are IMBA certified instructors and have earned the IMBA Level 2 stamp of approval, which anyone in the know will tell you is no easy feat.
I was in the parking lot of the Nature Center at Pocahontas State Park unloading the bike when I met Dave. Any feelings that I had about getting in over my head were put to rest in short order. Dave is one of those “mountain bike guys”. You know the type: tall, lanky, sinewy, annoyingly healthy looking, and blessed with an easy going nature that imparts the understated confidence of someone who knows what he’s doing. Dave is also a Special Education teacher for Henrico County, in other words he’s one heck of a human being with the patience of Job.
Dave, Ryan, and a small human that is much better than I, practicing some of the skills we reviewed during our session.
I could give you a moment to moment account of our two hour lesson but in an attempt to keep this to a reasonable length let me give you the highlights. Dave started out the day by adjusting my bike to fit me, which coming from the road cycling world there were quite a few things I didn’t know about mountain bike setup, to start our session. Next we went over body position in a stationary position with a little basic physics thrown in, for a mad scientist wannabe like myself this was good stuff. After that we worked on a series of riding positions called Bike & Balance Basics which begin to establish the proper relationship between how the bike relates to the body and vice versa. Dave would make a couple of passes showing me the proper technique and then I’d take my turn with him coaching from the sidelines offering encouragement and helpful input.
After an hour and a half of Dave imparting the knowledge I’d need to be somewhat competent, or at least a little less of a danger to myself in the woods, we hit the trail.
We practiced how to climb on what counted as hills, more like small rises, on the easy Pocahontas green trails. Dave then turned me loose on one of the easy downhill sections, what a hoot! It was a small taste of what to expect when I move up to the big kid’s stuff, but it brought back the feelings of speed and g-force I was used to from my motorcycle days. We then had a short climb to get back to our start point, but this wasn’t so bad since Dave had shown me the right way to get up a hill and I was filled with the feeling that I CAN DO THIS! Seriously, for someone that hasn’t been active in a while, it was a pleasant epiphany.
Piece of cake, all the trails in Pocahontas State Park are downhill!
When we finished the trail section and the lesson was winding down, Dave and I went back to the cars and he gave me a short recap of the day and the important points to remember. Dave understood my concern of being so out of shape and went over basic body weight exercises, where to find more information on the subject, and the importance of just getting moving at my own pace, very sound advice. After that I was told that I would receive an email from Ride Kore with a recap of what we had covered in a short while. Sure enough it was in my inbox the next day, along with more encouragement from Dave.
Folks, I can’t fully express all the wonderful aspects of the Ride Kore one on one session I had that day. I walked away with the confidence to try something that I’ve found daunting for quite awhile, the basic knowledge of how to do it correctly, the desire to stick with it, and no scabs or protruding bones. Armed with only two hours of instruction, I can avoid many of the pitfalls of learning bad technique from the beginning, and learn how to safely enter the sport of mountain biking.
Gratuitous video of Ryan and Dave showing off in Forest Hill Park, part of the Richmond Regional Ride Center
It’s been a little over two weeks since my class as I write this and I’ve been on the bike about a half dozen times and I love it. The downside is my stomach perpetually aches from the crunches and my underdeveloped noodle arms are constantly twitching from the basic workout. I’m getting used to the routine though and I’ve dropped a few pounds, not a bad trade off.
The dog is happy because I’m trying to shed some pounds flogging (flailing and jogging) and gets to play outside more. I think I might have even caught my wife giving me a saucy glance a couple of days ago. Not bad short term results.
I’ll keep you posted on the progress. I think my next move is to get out with some of my more experienced riding friends and let them beat me up and drop me. The Ride Kore slow and steady way is great, but something just feels a little odd about getting started with no lumps. It should give the gang a good guffaw, and what’s more important than providing the comedic fodder for your friend’s laughter?
Stay tuned… http://dlvr.it/72n035