Perhaps we ride too much at these camps. But then, so long as we don’t get any injuries, is that really possible? When you have such good venues and plenty to teach, it would be mean not to let them at it!
Jumping was the main priority at Pirinis. All six riders needed to improve their flying abilities, which I felt they accomplished by focusing on these points;
- Standing low to the bike so that it could move without controlling them
- Powering their rear wheel off the upramp to keep the bike jumping consistently
- Powering hard when landing
That final skill needed to be accompanied by some good body language, especially on the harder landings. This mainly concerned bending at the waist to help;
- Keep their knees from collapsing forward too much
- Their arms to stay bent so that their whole body could soak the landing better.
We also made some great inroads on their ability to control the bike going sideways. This was thanks to practicing whips, and they were fully ready by the time we finally got to the finish line jump with its big nasty kickers.
On Rails in the Ruts
Ruts were the main thing that we built up to at Palmy. Starting with braking to help their control, we moved to shallow berms before hitting the ruts halfway through day two. Getting a dozen or more young riders railing ruts was no mean feat, but I felt like they smashed it!
There was something of a group comraderie by this time, with the riders really looking out for each other once the helmets were on. They also fed off each others success so that each time one rider improved, it spurred on another until soon the whole group was looking great. The hard skills that required the most of this good peer pressure were;
- Looking ahead. This is a toughie, but so crucial. One after the other began keeping their chins from dropping until they looked full of confidence
- For some reason it is so natural to take your fingers off the front brake that this skill took quite some time. Nothing a little finger pointing from me on the side of the track couldn’t fix
- Usually a group would encourage a rider to dump the throttle, but when a small first turn of the throttle is the only acceptable practice, it wasn’t long before they became consistent and started carrying much more speed through the turn.
Although the burden of keeping everyone safe is quite a stress on my brain and body, I absolutely love the outcome of these camps. I don’t blame Liam for laughing at that statement considering the torture he put his body through, but I think he would agree that the outcome is worth the pain.