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Saturday, February 09, 2008

Just a day in the park

I'll be honest, I wasn't that excited about going to the skills clinic today. I figured we would just stand around a lot watching other people do things and then go out there ourselves and do some drills that wouldn't really have that much of an impact on my ability to ride up Mount Mitchell or most other places I ride.

Well, I was wrong. I didn't do much standing around at all. I did get to watch other people -- and bump into them, grab their bars, and finally... try to knock them down. While it is true that not all the skills really gave me something to automatically apply to my ride home, I did have one drill that really gave me something to take with me.

The cornering drills were very helpful. Had I learned this lesson before my first race last year, maybe I wouldn't have dislocated my finger! After listening to the instructions, we headed out to give it a try.

The point of the lesson was to allow us to get a feel for the balance needed going through the corner so the tires would get optimum friction to keep us from sliding out. I knew immediately that I had done things all wrong in the past. However, now I've got that feelin'.

The instructions where to go into the corner with the weight on the outside leg. Now, I've done that before, but where I've messed up is what I have done with my upper body. Instead of leaning your body into the turn, you hold your upper body almost perpendicular to the ground.

Steve Baker, who was giving the instruction, used his nose as a gage. Riding along normal, your nose will be over the stem. As the bike leans left your nose moves toward the right bar drop. The farther you lean, the farther over your nose goes.

Along with your nose, you use your right leg and left hand. You weight your outside leg while also weighting your left hand. Putting all this into practice made me much more comfortable doing our circles in the parking lot.

There was lots of other fun stuff. However, the most fun I had was after the official clinic ended. A bunch of us played a game called "Last man standing." Or as the junior racers liked to call it -- "Knockdown."

We all got in a small taped off section and started to do track stands, bump our bodies, or tap our wheels. The idea was to make everyone else fall while you remained the last person standing. J. Winn decided to pick on me and we had some heavy duty leaning going on. The first time, he pushed me right out of the box.

Okay, so you want to play that way! We went at it again and we found ourselves really pushing each other as he tried to do the same again and I wasn't going to do it. Finally, we ended up in a mess of bikes and he went down. I did a track stand for a few seconds longer and then went down hard.

The best I did was third man standing, but I didn't care. It was just a lot of fun. I was actually disappointed when we stopped.

Thanks coach Matt and the Les Amis and Carolina Cyclone guys. Also, a word out to those racers who give of their time to help these young riders. I think they will learn more from you than just how to ride.


At 8:55 AM, Blogger Corey said...

This turning tip has helped me out a lot. I ride a motorcycle and when I want to corner hard I push out with the inside arm, but I never translated this to cycling. I thought about you and your tip in every turn this Saturday. Thanks.


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