Our beloved sand track of Te Kopuru, Dargaville, was once again the eye of a storm. But instead of wind, rain or drought, this was a cyclone that brought riders in from all over Northland.
There is nothing quite so magnetizing to me as a medium sized tabletop jump, with an evenly curved upramp and a nicely rounded landing. While I was not able to ride it myself, its forgiving nature makes my job as a coach much easier. Riders can start small and safely build their way up to clearing it without needing to take any serious risks.
First to prove the jump were two brothers from Warkworth. Having stayed with us for a Boot Camp before, they knew the drill. Jo showed us how low to the bike he could stay, while Phil worked on his ability to use his body to adjust the bike quickly without his arms going straight at all. These skills were possibly even more important for Ethan and Jeremy aboard their 150 and 85 machines, so we smashed it out for some time until they too were clearing this impressive jump while looking fairly relaxed about the whole deal.
Standing like that is not only good for the showy jumps though, as my next group were to prove. Aboard 50 and 65cc bikes, Ollie and Logan had struggled with the mud and ruts of racing the same track during the weekend despite repeated exhortations by their Dad’s to stand up more often. What I needed to do was make it easier for them to stand.
The next twenty minutes was spent getting their legs to straighten more. It is just not natural to get those knees back so far that they can then grip the seat, rather than only getting so far back as the tank. Rather than going around in circles telling them to stand, I simply had them focus on this one point, and not only did that make them stand in order to achieve the goal, suddenly they were much more stable on the bike and now felt comfortable being up there. So they did it more and more, until the track was not a challenge any longer.
How To Create and Control the Whip
Friends new and old arrived from so far North as Kerikeri for the finale, which was to be a very packed session. By this time the ball was already rolling, so it wasn’t long before I could get these guys practicing how to whip. Why? Because you never really know for sure which way a bump or jump will kick you, unless you are purposely turning one way or the other over the top of it. It might go as planned, which is fine. Possibly it will kick you quite far sideways, but you can handle it because you know which way it is going to go and have been practicing how to handle them.
Some of them could flick the bike sideways but would usually land sideways as well because they weren’t really leaning into it. Even worse, they used their body to get the rear of bike out, but were not able to get their body back in line with the track again before landing which would cause a big high side crash if the jump was too big.
There was a small double that we used to teach them this skill. Neither the up ramp or the landing were particularly peaky, so the goal was to turn a corner over each of these, with the apex of their turn being the highest point of the upramp or landing.
Some struggled to do it one way and then the other. This was not allowed as every rider needs to be able to do it both ways. Others would let their arms go straight, so out came my stick for them to duck under. Once those skills were progressing, they were then ready to do this without powering off the upramp or landing, turning their whip into more of a scrub.
Where To Use This Weapon
Enough practice doing this and they were now ready to start turning one way or the other over bigger jumps. From seeing Dads and kids both successfully gaining confidence and enjoyment out of this skill that may have otherwise only ever stayed on their dream list, I am now sure that it is a skill most, if not all riders should learn.
Of course their was some damage done to that double so I hope the maintenance crew will forgive me enough to let us come back. It is a seriously cool track, and I can’t wait to see how far these riders have come when we return in a few months time.