We chose TECT Park as a great place to prepare some kids for the Mini Nationals. Not only was it really close to my home, but easier to reach for everyone else as well. Then we ran it over two days to help the skills sink in and also encourage riders from farther afield. All was looking good- except for the weather.
We had 150mm of rain in the week leading up to it, and it was still falling at 11pm the night before. The pressure was on with people coming from Auckland and Northland, but we had enough faith to settle with a 12pm starting time, trusting that the volcanic-based soil would have let the rain run off and then come right with a morning of sunshine. We were rewarded with absolutely prime traction everywhere!
I find that mini riders need some light-heartness for the best results, so we started with a fun walk to two corners I wanted to start with. Calling myself Mother Duck, they dutifully formed a long line behind me. The “Ducklings” were then in no doubt as to what I thought was the best race line. There were two different ideas I wanted to get across.
The first was staying straighter through the slippery sections and turning hard in the good bit. That meant resisting the urge to power hard through this turning section, made fast by being able to bring more speed into the corner, then lean further while they turned and power harder once straight because they got the turn done so quickly.
Secondly I wanted them to understand something about how road racing lines work. Using brave parents and a cone to point the way they learned to get wider than they normally would before and after the flatter turns or wide berms, getting closer to the inside through the middle.
Both of these skills made quite the difference to their confidence, which translated into pure speed.
Day two saw us add more jumping skills as well, with those crucial starts on both days of course. But the really impressive thing was how the riders improved their cornering in the very first moments of day two. Having a night for the body to freshen up and the mind to process what I had been saying meant that they were soon on a whole new level. Did our plan work? You bet!