Sometimes all a rider needs is some good old fashioned peer pressure. We were as far north as BRC gets in Kerikeri, and had seen more than our fair share of carnage as riders learned the hard way how being cautious is often not the way to deal with slippery conditions. It was time that they took control of the situation, and they needed me to show them how.
Taylor’s track had come out of retirement for us with riders flocking from the local schools to change their classroom and teacher for the day. Because it hadn’t been used in a while, cooch grass had crept over the edges and actually formed excellent traction to those brave enough to get wide enough to use it. Which is where the “motivation” came in to play.
After verbally telling them to carry speed and get right out into the berm/rut, I jumped on to the track and acted like the ultimate mini rider parent. Waving my arms and moving around like a monkey in a bees swarm I hurried them I gave them little choice but to trust me.
We had spent quite some time on front brake use by now, which is exactly what they needed to control their descent as the rut sloped down and around. Pointing into the imaginary distance with one finger and pointing to that finger with the other, I reminded them to use it in no uncertain terms.
Their other instructions were to stay off the throttle for most of the turn as front brake was now their life line, and make sure they kept their chin from dropping so they could see well ahead. That was the reason I was sometimes pointing up and under my chin also. It might have looked a little strange but the message was getting through.
Now I don’t know whether it was my words, my jumping around or the fact that the first rider actually braved up enough to give it a go, but suddenly they were all flowing around the line like a formation of skilled jet pilots. The only time it went wrong was when someone decided they wanted to come out of that line early, where they would soon end up spinning around like they had been doing before. No worries, once they were back on their bike they were brave enough to not do that again.
All of this might sound dangerous but it was exactly the opposite. Momentum is your friend in wet conditions, you just have to trust your front brake to pull you safely in to the small areas of traction that are nearly always somewhere to be found. Combining that with patience on the throttle and keeping your chin up is a secret to success that can turn a terrible day into an extremely enjoyable one. After all, if you do slide out then muddy gloves are about all the damage you are likely to sustain, especially with your parent or coach waiting there ready to pick you up and congratulate you for a brave effort!