A small crash in an enduro special test is bad enough. Losing nearly 40 minutes on a few tree roots that you can’t lift the front wheel over is just downright cruel. On the positive side it was enough to drive Wendy to us for some coaching.
Her substantial intellect, excellent body awareness and bottomless depths of experience quickly helped her turn my words into action, helped in no small part by the mental image she had of Natasha Cairns passing her one time. Stamped in her mind was Natasha standing crazy low to the bike, which we used to great effect for Wendy over the bumps and jumps. But it was the wheelies where the real fun happened.
It turns out she had quite a long list of bad memories about wheelie attempts. Fortunately there was one key that every one of those bad experiences shared- every time she had nothing to catch the rear wheel from going too far. Right from the start I got her to use the rear brake after every wheelie attempt, but it wasn’t really all that noticeable until we could get her front wheel off the ground. We began with some safer things before using peer pressure to get her powering harder.
The first was a small amount of front brake before pulling and powering. Too much brake meant she was almost stopping, but a small amount of brake shifted the weight forward before her power would move the weight back. Using only her pointing finger on the front brake helped, with the bonus of having more fingers on the throttle for when she pulled. Unfortunately all of this was too much to coordinate all at once so we needed to skip to the peer pressure.
Wiping the whole idea of front brake or pulling, I hopped on her bike and showed her what happened when only using power and then front brake. Well, that is not exactly true. I was also gripping the seat hard enough with my knees that I could use them to help pull the front up, and I told her just as much. With that knowledge she was increasing in speed but not really lifting the front. There was one more instruction she needed to try, to use a snappy and full turn of the throttle, but now it was ok because we had now spent enough time practicing the key element that would give her the skills and confidence to do just that.
With just a snappy and full turn of the throttle she lifted the front high. It was impressive, but needed a little reminder to rely on rear brake to get the front down instead of just backing off the throttle. That is why coaching matters so much, because even if she had gotten this far by herself, it probably would have gone bad before too long. By getting onto that rear brake she was now fully under control, and on her way to getting over those obstacles in the future.