Any coaching session really gets exciting after a riders third or fourth session, and to have three of these students for a two day camp is even better. Having all that time means we get two or three times as many sessions on each day to work on skills, meaning we get to some very cool stuff like our work with Nicolette.
She was probably the easiest because she knew exactly what skills she wanted to master; anything else was just a bonus. She already had a brilliant standing style, we just needed to extend her range of movement to include getting way over the front while jumping or to let her bike move sideways if it wanted to whip.
If those two things sound a bit dangerous, let me explain by giving you a choice. What sounds better to you; working with the bike or against it? 100kg of alloy and petroleum products makes for a sizeable opponent. Trying to lift or drop the front wheel using your arms, or use your legs to stop it from going sideways is going to be futile. Worse is when you are so locked together with the bike that you are forced to do everything that it does. Wouldn’t it be better to let the bike work around you?
She knew all of this and agreed, we just needed to help her body to agree. We needed to smash the invisible barrier that hindered her head from going past the handlebars when the front wanted to lift, and then get her legs to let the bike be sideways when it kicked out. It was actually the mini track that made the difference.
Any rider should be able to turn a corner both ways. Whipping a bike is essentially the same thing, only your wheels come off the ground, the key being that you need to lean over to make it happen. So we used a nice little ramp to get her rear wheel out sideways and learning to not resist it, so that her body was more in line with the track than the bike on landing. Getting it completely straight is not totally necessary, and now she was ready to move to the step up jump where we could practice the next extreme.
Letting the front come up as the upramp got steeper meant that her head would end up past the handlebars, made safe because she was powering all the way into the air. It was a seriously cool style that kept the bike more level while still allowing the front to come even higher if needed.
She looked like a pro, made possible because this camp allowed us the time to get to this very cool skill. But there was something else that we had time to work on; her suspension.
Without being able to do anything too serious, I was able to play with the clickers on her suspension, basically just going much firmer all round for the faster laps of MX. She was getting close to a sub two minute lap time but finding the repetitive bumps a challenge. I felt that stiffening the clickers made it wallow and bounce around a lot less, and the main goal for her was helping her hands last longer before blistering up. She could always go back to the settings it had been on, but I was pretty stoked to spend some time working these things out. Camps do seem to be the way.