South of the North and North of the South- Manawatu to Marlborough. This recent coaching trip threw its challenges hard and fast, a riddle that I had no choice but to do my best to work through.
The first was an easy problem- we had too many people wanting to book in. So we started a day early at the Andersons track with Wilson Wood and Dave, his riding buddy, preceded by James Galpin and a face we hadn’t seen in a while- Dylan Hollenback. While one got his mojo back, another described his experience as having “a moment of clarity”, which is apparently a good thing.
Challenge number two was a tough one as I had to overcome a change in track venue. While not an issue for the final two sessions of the day as they learned heaps, it was my fast mini riders who took the most work.
A rider needs to see their need before they will put in 100% effort into modifying their style, which was made difficult on a sand track when they were going to be racing clay. Coaching often takes all of my effort and this was an extreme example.
By the end of it, while we had not achieved what I had hoped prior to the session, instead I was able to experiment by putting new slow motion iPad technology into effect and throw a real challenge to the riders. How much speed can a rider carry into a corner, shown by how leaned they were able to get. If they continue to trust in their front brake as a control when entering a bit too fast, then I know it will help their speed a lot in the berms of the up-coming mini nationals.
Working through other problems was what we had planned to be our mini nationals training day at Kapi Mana. Unfortunately the track was too damp for us to use. Hence all mini riders had to pull out, apart from one.
Nathan Rhind and his family were on an epic journey, spending a week on the road to incorporate the club round at the nationals venue and coaching on the senior track as a way of preparing for that soil type, which actually went extremely well and we were all thankful to the club for letting us use the venue.
While most of the track was not suitable for our use after the wetness of the racing just a week before, the starting straight with its adjoining table top was perfect for easing a young Michelle into confidence, along with style changes for Matthew and Paul. The sun also dried out the set of jumps after the finish line enough for us to use with Andrew and Rob, experienced trail riders who were able to get some decent air under their tyres with confidence thanks to some key changes of their own.
Basically just up the road was our venue for the next days coaching and play. Mark has a collection of big boys toys in abundance which we made the most of, seeing as they were the only session of the day.
The challenge came in the two key style changes I saw our need to pick on – being able to lean their upper body back in the difficult part of a corner and smooth riding of the clutch. Brake and power slides were eventually eliminated, slow wheelies made possible but not after some serious threats and soul searching. When it comes to getting real results, sometimes you have to get tough.
Cut Your Losses
The next challenge was my own doing, living without a phone for 48 hours. No big deal really, just meaning organization had to be perfect for the sessions in Nelson and Blenheim.
All was going well, including Sarah tracking me down at a restaurant after a Facebook post, to inform me of my sisters brand new baby, until the storm hit. By the time I emerged for breakfast, the day had already been called and fairly so, heavy rain practically flooding the house where we were to be spending the day. So for once we had one of those rare occurrences where a whole trip had to be written off and I made my way back to the ferry for the trip home, picking my phone up on the way.
The old saying of taking the good with the bad is too true and I did enjoy being back with my girls earlier than planned!