It’s the night before the first She Rides MTB confidence session at Lysterfield…
Well, actually, it will be the second session for everyone else, and the first for me after a last minute work trip meant I couldn’t attend day one. So, seeing as I am already starting behind the 8 ball, you would think I have got everything sorted and ready to go, right? Wrong.
After wiping the thick layer of dust off my very neglected bike and running through the ABC check, my next job was to change the saddle over. About 2 months ago, I spent an inordinate amount of time carefully selecting my new women’s and MTB specific, “don’t tell the husband how much it cost” saddle that until now had been sitting in a cupboard still in the packaging. Replacing the saddle would have been a simple task, had I had the right tool. Unfortunately for me, that tool had been stolen with my bike bag off my road bike a few weeks ago, and as I realised this evening, is the one thing that I have not yet replaced. Very poor preparation, Kate.
So here I am, starting my blog resigned to the fact that I am going to be a little more uncomfortable in my She Rides session tomorrow than I would like, and being reminded of the truth in the old saying ‘practice what you preach’. Saddle aside, I am SO excited to get out for tomorrow’s session and finally start to conquer those off-road nerves. Excited and nervous. Mostly excited!
The biggest take away I had from my first MTB skills session – forget everything you know about riding that you have learnt on the road and be comfortable with the fact you are starting from scratch. Second – trust your bike. The bike wants to stay upright and is built to handle the ‘gnarly’ conditions. My job as the rider is to help it do its thing.
Today’s session was focused on practicing the “attack” position. As a road rider, I found the idea of being out of the saddle while taking corners completely counter-intuitive. And it wasn’t until I felt the back wheel starting to slip around under me that I realised why I needed to get my butt off that seat (somewhat fortuitous given my saddle changing fail last night).
What I found hardest was that even though I understood what I needed to do and why, translating that into on-bike behaviour is another thing entirely. The instinct to revert to what I know was strong and left me feeling frustrated and, frankly, at times out of my depth.
I am completely in awe of the other women on my She Rides program. After only one week, they had their “attack position” dialled in and were handling those trails with ease, as I crept around feathering my brakes and trying to avoid trees.
I definitely left with my tail between my legs today. At the moment, the idea that I might one day be a competent mountain biker seems like it is an eternity away. However, in saying that, I think back to a year ago when I decided that I was going to be a swimmer and discovered that I couldn’t swim a 50m lap of a pool. 12-months later, including 2 months of stroke correction lessons and many, many hours spent practicing at my local pool, I can hardly believe that swimming 2KM is normal now. So, this weekend, I will be practicing what I preach and will be spending some time out on my local MTB trails getting to know my bike, getting ready early and keeping my butt off that saddle!