If there’s one thing I’ve got good at over the years riding my bike, its bad trail habits. As is the way with bad habits, you don’t know you’re doing them until someone points it out to you.
So, it was at the A Quick Release skills day in Sherwood Forest last month where Paul pointed out my mistakes as I made a bit of meal of trying to ride (too) quickly through a complex of three rooty turns we were using for cornering practice.
I met Paul in 2005 when I went out to Luchon for the TORQ Fitness/ AQR training week. He was helping Ian and Kate Potter with their first year of guiding. I was quietly impressed by his skillful yet modest approach to riding and that extra bit of flair he had on descents that told you he was a) really very good at riding a bike and b) not trying that hard, so as not to make us look crap.
Back to those corners then. Paul broke them down into pieces and talked through three fundamental things we needed to do to get more traction and speed out of the bike. I started out slowly and struggled to coordinate the movement of my bike and my body in sync with the trail in the way Paul had described. A different approach was required, I thought. I accelerated down the trail, missed the braking point into the first corner, came out of it late and into the next berm too low before finding the line again for the third having lost most of my speed. At the second attempt I got the braking right, carved through the first corner on the right line, railed the small berm and shot out of the third corner – the three things Paul taught me had begun to come together. It wasn’t perfect, but refinement would come through practice.
A month later and I was riding the Pen Hydd trail at Afan Argoed. The trail flowed fast beneath me as I used every inch of its width to carry my speed through the rocky turns of the Sidewinder descent. Now I’ve been shown the right way to do things, its down to me to make sure I don’t slip back into those bad habits.
Thanks Paul 😉