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divingbiker
04-18-2007, 05:44 PM
Tonight was session one of the MTB clinic at Wakefield Park in Burke, Virginia. It was fun.

There were three instructors and five students. They talked about making sure your bike is ready to ride (bolts tight etc) and bike fit, and then we hit the trail. Wakefield is very beginner-friendly, but there are a few stream crossings, roots, logs, and switchbacks so it was challenging but do-able for those of us who need practice. We stopped often while everyone navigated the streams and other obstacles, and did four miles total, returning in the dark. At the end they talked about trail etiquette.

Next week we're going to work on downhills and switchbacks and braking. By the third session they're hoping we'll all be comfortable enough to go over a fairly big log pile. We'll see.

Tam, I asked about mountain biking on a cyclocross bike, and one of the instructors said it can certainly be done at a park like Wakefield, but not where there are a lot of rocks. She said you could take the clinic with no problem on a cross bike with fairly wide tires. It sounds like there are quite a few more people signed up for the second session of the clinic, so I'm not sure if there's still room.

Regina, I'm getting my confidence back and will soon be ready to ride!

Kalidurga
04-18-2007, 06:07 PM
Thanks for the report, Janice, and for asking if it's 'cross bike-appropriate. I'd love to take the May clinic, but in looking again at my schedule I don't know if I can swing it. I'd have to take those Wednesdays off from work to be able to get down to Wakefield by 6:30pm. Maybe one day I'll mosey down to Wakefield and give it a go on my own (though I'd be walking over every log...). I really wish an LBS up here in MoCo or FredCo would do something similar.

Defiinitely let us know how next week's clinic goes!

7rider
04-18-2007, 06:25 PM
Great!!
I'll let you lead so you won't see all the times I dab! :D

What did they say re: bike fit?
I called my LBS about my bike and Mike - curiously - said for a ride like the C&O, I should be more stretched out, like a road bike, and for more technical stuff be more upright. I say "curiously" since it seems like the opposite of what I would have thought would be the case. I'm wondering what others would say....

divingbiker
04-19-2007, 03:14 AM
It's definitely a haul to get there during rush hour. I left work early and allowed an hour and ten minutes to get there, and I needed every bit of that. I can't imagine traveling that stretch of the beltway every day. It was a breeze coming home, though--only 1/2 hour.

Re bike fit, they talked about knee over pedal position, having the saddle high enough and fairly level, adjusting the handlebars by fiddling with the stem, and making sure you're not too stretched out so you can throw your weight to the back of the bike when necessary. They thought that I looked stretched out (but not too much), so I'm sure you would be too, Regina. I forgot to ask about the handlebars obscuring the hub test, but I'll do that next time.

divingbiker
04-25-2007, 07:02 PM
Tonight was the second session of the MTB clinic, and there were four instructors and two students. The other student isn't really a beginner, so I was the only one who didn't already know all the skills.

We learned to ride over curbs, which was kind of fun. Then we rode on the trails and practiced going up hills, keeping elbows in and shifting your weight forward. We practiced stopping in middle of a downhill (so if you get freaked out you don't have to careen down the hill). Toward the end we climbed to the top of a hill with a lot of switchbacks. At the top of the hill was the beginning of a new trail they've built which is a series of banked switchbacks all the way down the hill. That was somewhat intimidating, and on the way down I kept my body so rigid I was exhausted at the bottom. Next week I hope to relax and enjoy it.

Altogether we rode 6 miles, and I fell once or twice.

Regina, I forgot to ask again about the handlebar/hub business, but I noticed that all the instructors' bikes had very short stems, maybe 5 or 6 cm. I was surprised, but forgot to ask about it. Maybe I'll remember next time.

They said there's a beginner ride at Rosaryville on Saturday morning, so I'm thinking about doing that. Need to check it out at the MORE web site, but now it's time for bed.

7rider
04-27-2007, 04:50 AM
An instructor:student ratio of 4:2??? Wow.
How'd you like those switchbacks? I always seem to have a hard time with them (well, I have a hard time with just about anything on the mountainbike!).
Interesting about the stems - thanks. I really think I'll talk to the shop about switching mine out for something shorter and perhaps more upright.
Looking forward to next week's report. Soon, we'll have to head out to Fairland and we can put your skills to work!

Kalidurga
04-28-2007, 03:18 AM
Interesting that they'd teach to shift your weight forward going uphill. I would've assumed that you should keep your weight back over the saddle to help the traction of the rear tire.

7rider
04-28-2007, 04:33 AM
Interesting that they'd teach to shift your weight forward going uphill. I would've assumed that you should keep your weight back over the saddle to help the traction of the rear tire.

I would imagine that leaning forward keeps weight on the fork. With a suspension fork, in particular, if it becomes unweighted, it will bob around, decreasing control and tracking. With my old mtb, I used to say my riding partner was "Suspension Bob", as it was horrible for bobbing and weaving on the uphills. Or....maybe that was me all along! :rolleyes:

I guess it's a balance think - lean forward enough to keep the fork under control, but back enough to keep traction to the rear??

divingbiker
04-28-2007, 07:31 AM
I would imagine that leaning forward keeps weight on the fork. With a suspension fork, in particular, if it becomes unweighted, it will bob around, decreasing control and tracking.

Exactly. If you don't lean forward, the front wheel comes off the ground and shortly thereafter you tip over. Not that I have any experience with that kind of thing, of course. :D

I bagged the Rosaryville beginner ride this morning, because I didn't want to get muddy, which I guess means I'm not really a mountain biker.

Kalidurga
04-28-2007, 08:59 AM
I bagged the Rosaryville beginner ride this morning, because I didn't want to get muddy, which I guess means I'm not really a mountain biker.

I'm still trying to figure out how to ride through mud and have it all stick to me, not the bike. ;)

LBTC
04-28-2007, 12:52 PM
I'm still trying to figure out how to ride through mud and have it all stick to me, not the bike. ;)

I wonder if the armor all wipes worked to shed mud easier....

H&B
~T~

LBTC
04-28-2007, 12:54 PM
Climbing steeps on a mtb is a balancing act. In many cases you need to keep your butt off the saddle, hovering, or barely touching it, so that you can easily shift your weight forward to keep the front wheel stable, or backward to keep traction on the back wheel, depending on where it is needed.

Of course, buy the right tires and you'll need a lot less finesse in the weight distribution department! :)

Hugs & butterflies,
~T~

divingbiker
04-28-2007, 04:35 PM
Of course, buy the right tires and you'll need a lot less finesse in the weight distribution department!

LBTC, what are the "right tires"? Got any examples? I'm all for anything that lessens my need for "finesse", not that I've got any of that going on right now...

LBTC
04-29-2007, 12:12 AM
My absolutely all time favourite mtb tire for all around riding

front: Continental Vertical Pro 2.3
rear: Continental Explorer Pro 2.1

DH does all the research, but boy oh boy can I ever tell the difference!

For racing, he gets me geared up with

front & rear: Continental Explorer Super Sonic 2.1 with Stans no-tubes.

The weight saving is about 200g, and the traction is very similar.

Better traction helps in lots of scenarios: climbing, obstacles, cornering, sketchy conditions.

I don't "read" the bike well, but I sure love the right rubber!

H&B
~T~

divingbiker
05-02-2007, 06:27 PM
Tonight didn't go very well. I wasn't really in the mood to begin with, and we didn't ride very far to warm up before the hard stuff started. I didn't make it up the steep muddy hill after a creek crossing, and I fell a couple of times for no good reason. We had a bigger crowd tonight, and did a lot of stopping to discuss various obstacles etc, and so I just never got going very well.

We spent a lot of time working on popping the front wheel to get over a log, and jumped a small log repeatedly. Altogether we rode less than 3 miles.

Overall I really enjoyed the MTB clinic, but now it's time to just get out on the trail and ride.