When NOBL Wheels asked if I could coach a free intermediate women’s skills clinic in Cumberland, I was at first nervous, having just started riding a few green trails again after a broken ankle had forced me off mountain biking for the last four months. When fellow NOBL ambassador Julia Long agreed to join us and demo some more advanced features and techniques, I knew that with her and a pack of keen women we’d have the right recipe for practical learning, and I could still show up and share my experienced coaching knowledge. It turned out so much better than I expected and it was just the push I needed to get out and ride again!
We started the clinic with a chat about tire pressure, something I have learned to check before every ride. Tires affect traction, suspension, and steering and may change daily depending on elevation or temperature. For this day we had hero dirt from the light rain the day before, and we adjusted our tires for those perfectly packed conditions.
Next we got into some body position drills and braking on slippery surfaces in order to prepare for what we might find on the trails. We discovered the slick grass was unpredictable, and had to do some precise and gentle braking in order to control our stops without skidding. Our overall theme became how to stay centred on the bike and resist the urge to lean back or break at the hip-hinge while performing maneuvers on the bike.
Freshly warmed up from these drills and with conscious awareness of our body position, we hit the trails. We ticked-off three laps of an easy, blue single track, progressing skills with each lap. With Julia at the helm to demo, we discussed how to gauge speed in order to either pump, manual or clear doubles instead of casing them. Keeping each lap as smooth as possible, we discussed line choice together in order to better set-up for corners, focusing on teasing them as wide as possible with this practice: lean the bike, lower the body, look towards the exit.
After some hard brain work and sessioning, we cruised in a pack and just rode our bikes. Giggles, screeches and “Yeeeee-haw’s” echoed as we wove down through the Cumberland trail network. I was glad that some of the women, familiar with the trails and with their favourites on the brain, could lead the way and show me some gems on the way back to our start where we arrived to chat and relax with the NOBL Wheels crew.
Photos: Sara Kempner
Made Possible By: NOBL Wheels #NOBLwheels