Not far from Lake Tekapo is a lovely south island town called Fairlie where my father and I were to be based for an alpine hunting adventure. But first was the main reason for the trip; coaching the keen kids and adults of this beautiful corner of our country.
Both groups kicked off with some ground work to get them engaging my eyes with their own, and responding verbally to a group question. Adults and kids alike. No one is allowed to hide, and this really seems to get them into gear. I followed that up with an agreement that they allow me to administer push ups for not putting enough effort into a skill also helps, the potential pain and embarrassment of push ups helping overcome other fears that may come from trying something new.
As I often do, our first skill was all about keeping their pointing finger or peace sign fingers on the front brake from the moment they back off the throttle until halfway through each turn. They didn’t have to use it the whole time, but keeping it ready to go at all times is a key step to more control, which soon brings more speed. It is something that anyone can get their head around and may be different to what dad had told them, making it the perfect ice breaker to set the tone.
That leads into throttle control, which is basically just no throttle at all while braking and turning hard, before making their first turn as small as possible. One rider didn’t get the throttle completely off while braking and had a very hairy moment. It was also a very good save.
I kept things moving as quickly as I could. The kids group progressed quickly from one loop to the next with little break in between, finishing on the MX track that most of them really thrived on. Which is where we got stuck in with the adults.
There were plenty of memorable moments, kicked off by a full throttle moment caused while trying to use the front brake. It was an impressive save, capped off later in the day with skills and bravery that would have impressed any husband.
Our friend Don also made a breakthrough, going from a speedway style of leaning forward through turns to the sitting forward and leaning back that we had been looking for. He was praising how much his front wheel traction improved. We are on to a winner there.
We finished with what was a new style of jumping for almost all of them, keeping low to the bike so arms stay bent, without collapsing their knees forward on landing. It must have been a good group because they all trusted me enough to do it and reaped the benefits.
Genuinely nice people in a beautiful environment. We are booked to be back in May next year. Can’t wait.