Our stories always seem to be so positive, what are we hiding? Being a full time coach does mean dealing with the good and the bad. The weather is often a challenge. The workload and travel is never easy. Lets face it, people can be difficult. However the reason we seem to have such positive things to say is that there are so many good things happening that we could do no less!
In saying that, sometimes you have to admit defeat. Our Auckland coaching session at the start of July was one of those occasions.
The week had been a good one, a rare winters week of beautiful weather. My track was so dry and the weather report clear that I didn’t heed the warnings. “You are welcome to use our track but it is wet up here”. “We have had a lot of rain, is it still on?” I just assumed they were being on the cautious side, it never even crossed my mind to change the session to a sand track.
We got away with it on the Friday at Ken Fells Farm. Arriving nice and early was Hannah and her mum with their Chinese mini bike. Soon after we had two brothers arrive with their new gear but no bikes- the bikes they were to use were supplied by Botany Honda, a CRF70 and CRF100 I had picked up for them on the way up. It turned out the bikes were a bit big for them but with some help I got them get going and stop, the session progressing from a simple oval to an epic adventure to the back of the track and back, bogs and all.
Things continued well in the bright sunshine with Ryan Webley. Dave had only recently discovered that he had a huge fear of the first corner carnage that was holding back so I spent the next two hours building up confidence and testing him close contact riding the CRF100. His next few races will be the test to see if it worked!
So far so good. I stayed with Danny and family of Botany Honda. His son Nathan is a budding young MXer enjoying his riding and would not be convinced to miss his routine Gym workout so I joined in to quelch any guilty feelings. Even though it is supposed to be my off season there is still no excuse for laziness!
Where things started to go steeply downhill was at our Bombay venue the next morning. After a pleasant breakfast with the Botany Honda crew we realized I had forgotten to pick up the 450 they had been preparing for the upcoming T100, meaning a long trip back to Danny’s place that afternoon. When I arrived at the track I went for a quick assessment walk and realized what they had meant by wet. There was hardly a dry spot to be found and it would turn out sloppier than the day we had there in pouring rain just a few weeks earlier!
Looking back, I probably could have moved all sessions an hour north to sandier pastures which would have been perfect. Hindsight is a painful thing. From there the coaching was too much about survival and not much learning, a very disappointing first two sessions but a hard lesson that I hope to learn from.
There are always a few positives. The adults were stoked to learn that riding the clutch wasn’t always about in or out- that finding the right spot to hold it at for a second was the key to an easy ride. The kids, while struggling, still kept wanting to go back out and ride, get stuck, then ride again. It was hard to pull them in and the day seemed to give them a good deal more confidence about having a bike moving around under them. Then there was Mum who got the hard charger of the day award, for someone with little or no off road experience she practically lapped up the mud!
I had to make a call for our last group and called ahead letting them know we had to postpone the coaching to a future weekend. Fortunately they were very understanding and while disappointed they could see that I just wanted them to get the best value out of their dollars and went riding at Woodhill instead.
It was a day I would love to forget for my mistakes but will always remember the lesson it has taught me on track choice in the winter and will vividly remember the kindness of those people who were so understanding about my mistakes, thanks guys!