During a busy day at Ruakaka this month we made use of a handy pile of rotten rock to form the kind of movements that would give the control back to the people.
“When the front of your ‘bike’ lifts higher than the rear as it goes up the hill or jump, should your body keep the same position in relation to the bike or the ground?” Without waiting for an answer I then went on to do an actual demonstration on the pile.
For “Option a.” I stayed with the bike at all costs, which meant letting my body rock backwards as the front wheel went higher than the rear. It put a lot of load on my arms, but the really bad bit came next as I went down the other side and my body rocked forwards quite violently. I had stayed in place compared to the bike, but that meant it owned me completely. The boys gave me a well-deserved thumbs down for that one.
Option b. was much nicer as I let the handlebars come up to my tummy then got low enough to the bike on my way down the other side to let the handlebars move away without pulling me forward with them.
It would have been a risky proposition to have let them try it without any coaching, but with my demo fresh in their mind we soon saw all of them conquer the sharp and narrow line.
The hard part was applying that same principle to a jump, where habit and fear often take over. To avoid old habits, we first needed to jump smaller than usual.
Some riders needed to grip the seat with their knees to avoid moving their knees forward and head back. Some needed to get lower to the bike late in the jump to avoid their arms going straight.
Time would fail us to talk through all the tweaks we made, but the end result was jumping normal size again, except without being owned by the bike as much.
Just a note to the awesome bunch that is now behind the maintenance of the Ruakaka track. Those jump faces are a thing of beauty, and the way they groom the sand is working great. Possibly best of all, they now have a great minis track with a combination of dirt and sand that gives the kids all they will need. Being able to help the locals with their skills at that location was a treat, and I look forward to great things coming from Northland over the next few years.