A few years in a row of coaching with the Whangarei Motorcycle Club is now really starting to come together. While the first session with the older kids obviously had the most repeat customers- I rather call them friends- even the mini group had many kids that knew the ropes which meant I cold move on to so more serious skills. Exciting times.
The older group set the scene, giving me the confidence to give a very cool new section a try with the smaller ones. Any MX rider would have enjoyed this loop that had two tabletops and a drop that we could practice their jumps on.
Some of the youngest riders simply needed to stand up, achieved through much more than just telling them that. It was about getting their bum well off the seat while keeping their upper body closer to the ground, meaning straighter legs than usual and more bend in their waist. It always surprises me how much progress we can make with a difficult case like this, something that the parents have often been wanting them to achieve for years. I think we must have had three riders in this boat that I felt made great progress, but it was the riders I have had before that really helped make it fun.
The older group had worked on whips, but after one session of jumps I was talking to the parents and it was handling kickers and sharp landings that it seemed the younger ones needed most.
They wanted to go do the jump loop again, but I made them a deal. We would do that section again if they learned how to handle kickers. It wasn’t going to be easy though.
I gave them two options. The first was to make sure that if they powered at all on the upramp, that they kept powering until their rear wheel was in the air, not just the front. Secondly they were to discourage the front from dropping by actually getting their head further forward than normal as the front wheel was leaving the ground. If they were doing option number one then the front would normally not drop, but if it did then they had more room to move down and back before their arms were straight.
I must have got the point across, combined with the right motivation, as they were soon allowed back onto the jumping loop. There were comments from the parents that they were looking better now. Now I wanted to help them with being able to handle landing on the knuckle of a landing ramp if necessary.
The common mistake is to protect the front wheel from a hard hit, which then puts all the weight on the rear wheel; or even worse, on the frame itself. So, putting step number two back into practice, we got their head past the bars for landings as well.
This was after a little demonstration I gave on a handy triple jump that happened to be nearby. Coming up short on the landing is about as bad as it gets, yet I could do it without grunting too hard if my front wheel touched down just before the rear wheel. It wasn’t fun, but it was safe, and the demonstration seemed to help them get more confident about possibly clearing the tabletops that had been daunting them before.
No one can claim that I don’t love these guys.