Showing off can often get you into trouble, but the potential reward is so much fun. So long as the damage to bike and body is not too serious, especially if they are not your own!
The two riders were different in everything except bike colour, but Tom proved that a lack of experience can be made up for with a combination of guts and natural talent. He was learning fast, so my main attention had to go with my more experienced student. Logan was fast and smooth on the bike, with a classic sense of humor at all other times. Which was a good thing, considering the damage I was about to do to his precious bike.
Key To Cornerspeed
Perhaps this sounds a little like someone you know. Fast with great control down the straights, able to make a jump look good. He just couldn’t carry the corner speed he needed in order to break through to that next level. Well we helped with that, at least.
In the sand he was either locking up the rear into the turns, or spinning his wheel through them. There was a root cause to both of these reactions; the locking or powering was his only way of loading up the rear wheel when the front was trying to dig into the softness. So we got him sitting his bum right up forward on the seat so he could lean his upper body well back during those crucial moments, immediately he began increasing corner speed and consistency.
Tom had progressed all the way to clutch and throttle control so we all started tackling some of the key obstacles on Woodhill’s Endurocross track. This style of riding has become something of an obsession to me since riding Birchy’s track over a year ago, so there was bound to be trouble.
“You Make Me Puke”
On suggesting I demonstrate how to achieve one particular obstacle, and with Tom borrowing my 250, Logan offered me the use of his bike; an offer which I accepted. I should know better.
Everything was going well and sure enough one thing led to another. Having previously witnessed Logan struggling through the tyre pit I gave it a go. All was going great until the very end where a tyre got pulled up under my frame, which the proceeded to topple me. “Crunch,” went the bike onto the stones.
Not wanting to appear fazed, I immediately picked it up and carried on, before noticing the smoke. Fearing the worst, I shut the bike down and found oil all over the engine. Surely I had put a hole through the engine somewhere. I just couldn’t find the place.
Logan appeared, surprisingly relaxed, and it wasn’t long before he spotted the problem. “Oh look, the engine breather hose is missing”. This didn’t seem relevant until I realized that tipping the bike over so suddenly had caused a rush of engine oil to blow out of the breather hole, and on to the engine, like the spout of a whale. It was with great relief that I could burst into laughter with his comment on the situation; “You made my bike vomit!”
Plenty of other students came through our course that day, including the Grieve family and Felix; who is an accomplished road bike rider looking at learning about the off road world. More silliness followed while giving them a rest break between sessions, by my deciding to do a few full laps of the Endurocross track despite the showers of rain that had wet the track.
A few small falls were acceptable considering my lack of practice, but spinning out on the big wooden berm was not a part of the plan. I fell like a sack of spuds onto the ground below, the only thing saving my fall being the pile of woodchips conveniently located at its base. Main lesson learned for the day? Wait until I have had more practice before attempting something silly like that in front of my students!