Sunday, 22 May 2011
Jumps and Drops (Scary Skills Day)
Friday saw 7 girls turn up at Gisburn Forest for the scary skills day, sorry, Jumps and Drops day, with Ed from Great Rock.
I was a bag of nerves on Thursday night - how gnarr will the day be? What if I'm the most chicken? What if everyone else is really good? Would I be able to commit or would my hands involuntarily grab my brakes like they usually do? It wasn't helped by Ed's e-mail telling us all that if we want to do the 4 foot drop on the DH course, we should bring a full face helmet. Eek! 4 foot drops are way beyond anything I've even considered trying to ride, so this was going to be way beyond me.
By the time I arrived on Friday morning, I'd convinced myself that I'd be happy just to listen, take it all in and watch. I'd just never be able to do any of it, but I could still learn stuff. So I was more than a little bit relieved to hear the other girls say they were nervous too.
After some nervous laughter, we set off to learn scary stuff.
We started off with manuals (controlled wheelies for those of us who don't do techy speak). I think it's fair to say that none of us were particularly stylish or controlled when we started, but after some practice, Ed had us all doing manuals.
Maybe I can do this then, I thought.
Then we moved on to rear end lifts (endo's without pulling the breaks) which proved to be a bit more of a challenge, but again, Ed managed to have us all doing it in no time at all.
Next, we had to try to combine the manual and the rear end lift to do a bunny hop. I've only ever managed bunny hops by yanking the bike up with my pedals before, so this was a bit of a revelation for me.
After stopping for lunch to dry off a bit and warm up (the weather had been pretty grim all morning), we set off to put together all the skills we'd learned in the morning and try manualling and jumping off drops. I'm always being told to lift my front wheel when I'm dropping off stuff, but never been able to do it, so I didn't have much confidence that, after just a few hours, I'd be able to "get air" off a drop like the boys do when we go riding.
We started will a drop I'd usually roll off, so it didn't seem too scary and after just a few attempts, we were all managing to manual off the lip of the drop and some of us were even managing to jump off the drop. This was a massive step forward for me and I already felt that I had achieved loads (no more being told to lift my front wheel!).
Next, Ed persuaded some of us move on to the next drop. This one was a lot bigger. I'm sure it wasn't quite as big as it looked, but it looked like it was about 3 foot tall, built from stone with a concrete slab on the top.
Jenn, Cat, Ros and I spent several minutes walking round the drop, looking at it from the top, then from the bottom, then further back up the trail, then back to the top of the drop, but all we were doing was making ourselves more nervous. So, Jenn decided just to go for it. Unfortunately, because it was quite a short run up, she didn't manage to get quite enough speed, tried to stop at the top, and somehow managed to roll off the drop.
Then it was Cat's turn. She managed to get speed up, got off the drop really nicely, but then when she landed, her forks compressed and it all went a bit wrong. By the time I rushed over to the top of the drop, she was lying in a heap on the trail looking pretty beat up. Luckily, she got off relatively lightly with a grazed and bruised chin and a bashed shoulder.
After that, Ros and I decided that the drop wasn't for us, so we suggested to Ed that we move on to something else.
Ed's choice of taking us to the quarry didn't seem like an easier option to me! Then, when he pointed to a big rocky drop, I really though he was kidding, but he was serious!
I could swear the drop was about as tall as me (although I'm sure it wasn't really) and it was narrow with a really short run out, so I really couldn't see how it could be possible for me to ride this.
As I stood at the top I couldn't figure out how I could possibly ride down it, but Ed was confident we could all do it, so I decided to at least try riding up to it to see what it was like. Jenn and I took our bikes further up the quarry and took a few deep breaths. Jenn decided to go first and rode it like a pro!
Then I rode at it, all the time, the little voice in my head was screaming "Don't touch the brakes! Hold on to the bars like your life depends on it! COMMIT!", whilst I kept muttering under my breath "Come on! You can do this!". Then I rode off the drop and found myself riding away from the bottom, in one piece!
I made it!
Just a few hours earlier, I wouldn't even have considered riding to the top of something like that to have a look, but I'd just managed to ride the biggest drop in the world (well, it seemed that way to me).
Just to prove to myself that I really had done it, I went back to have another try and again, found myself riding away from the bottom in one piece. If I could do a backflip, I think I would have!
So, maybe I hadn't managed to ride that first big drop, but I did manage to ride something I would never have dreamed of riding before and that's a huge step forward in my book!
I'm not sure I'm a gnarr rider yet, but if nothing else, I've found a new way of looking at trails and have a bit more confidence. I'm already thinking about my local trails and how I can ride them differently, better and maybe smoother. I can't wait to go out for my next ride and play!
Can we go out for a ride now?