Being the venue of the 2014 mini nationals, the Southland MCC track was well suited to our purpose. It turns out they haven’t been smashed by the bad weather that the rest of NZ has this winter, with this coaching trip being the perfect example. The track was being groomed as I arrived and the riders were looking keen.
Watching them warm up, they were pretty good jumpers, a testament to the tabletops on this track. What they lacked was prowess on the front brake, not surprising considering the sandy conditions. This needed some serious attacking so I got them onto the start straight.
Making straighter lines while braking is something that I really want them to understand. Riders tend to arc their way into turns which doesn’t lend itself to braking. They also needed a gentle first turn of the throttle to avoid drifting wide. It was effective, but the real test was always going to be on the track.
One corner in particular was my favourite. Firm with a nice line through the middle, it allowed them room to overshoot the best line if they came in to fast so we really hammered it, forcing them to attack it harder than they normally would and with excellent results. By the end of our session you could see that a few of them were well shattered, a sign that they had done a good job.
The bigger kids were next. It was impressive to see them carving up the sand corners like the naked chef on a potato peeler, but they needed to do that on the firmer turns too. Like the younger ones, front brake and throttle control was again going to be key so we hit the start straight once again.
Outside footpeg was also going to be key, as was opening up their entry into the turns. The mini nationals this year are on a type of river silt that packs down into some brilliant berms and can have good ruts, so long as the stones don’t interfere too much. They were not going to reach their potential without opening up their entry and pushing hard on the outside peg out of turns.
I will be watching the results with eagerness this coming weekend, and excited about the two day camp we have planned down that way for January. I just love the people of Southland and their tracks.