When I rode Leb with Iowa’s Ken Barker in August, I showed him how I used a manual wheelie to get over the bridge rock and he promptly showed me that he could get over it clean with a pedal wheelie. I didn’t get a photo or video of it but it was burned into my brain, as I was curious whether I could do the same.
I did this week. It only took me 17 tries. Gah.
The problem for me was two-fold: 1) I mostly suck at doing pedaling wheelies (see Ken doing two long ones in my video of him at Ray’s) so I had a hard time keeping the wheelie straight; and 2) I couldn’t get the timing right for pressing down into the pedals and springing upward so that the rear wheel would ‘levitate’ prior to hitting the rock.
In my 90-second video, I only included 8 of my 17 failed attempts. It includes a slo-mo and two stills of the one successful ride.
I wanted to finish it up with a video of a manual wheelie over the rock from a rear view angle (earlier videos were front view here and side view here). I put the camera on a tripod in the middle of the bridge which caused me to slow down slightly as I rode by it. The lack of speed and lack of front wheel height on the manual was almost disastrous, as I nearly did a header right into the rock. Have a laugh:
Well, for me, the difference from the “Leb Mafia” group I normally ride with is it’s less of a pace driven ride and a more “hit stuff” attitude toward all the options and jump opportunities. It means hitting a log ride doesn’t require beating a$$ to catch back up and sessioning stuff is an option. Turns out, it’s pretty much the type of ride I do when I ride solo. The pace is still pretty quick but not borderline XC race pace.
Doesn’t matter how much travel your bike has, its more how you want to ride it. The pace and style of the ride changes depending on who shows up and what everyone in is in the mood for. Sometimes we’ll stop and session, other times we might just keep rolling. One thing is for sure though, no one is racing to the top of any of the climbs!
sessioning… picking out a small section of trail and doing it over and over again until you get it right. As the saying goes, “practice makes perfect” and how are you going to become a better rider if you don’t practice? No one expects you to be perfect the first time out, so take your time and get it right. The more you do this kind of “redo”, the better rider you will become. Sessioning is the art of practicing and developing your skills in areas that you are not as proficient in. It is simple as that. These skills that you pick up through practicing hard sections of trail carry on into every aspect of riding. This is…by far…the #1 tip that has improved my riding ability and skills. Nothing else I have done has jump started my ability to become a better rider than sessioning.
Like Dave Tait, I do this often when I ride solo. But like I did over the years practicing my mototrials skills with fellow members of the UMTA, it’s so much more fun to do it with someone else or a group. And in one of the mototrials schools I attended at the Trials Training Center, the advice was to keep at it until you could clean it three times in a row, as consistency is a pretty good indicator of an acquired skill. Nailing something once might be just dumb luck.
I’ve not yet done the All Mountain Mondays at Leb but I’ll report back when I do, hopefully with better photos than my sessioning with Clay and Ken.
I was initially shocked by the number of technical obstacles at Ray’s Indoor Bike Park in Milwaukee: dozens for novices, dozens for intermediates, dozens for experts. And the cool thing is that most of the obstacle lines that start out at a one level of difficulty end with a ‘safe’ next-level of difficulty. I say ‘safe’ because nothing bad is likely to happen if you don’t make it. For example, the skinnies might be too tough for your level of ability but they’re low to the ground so you go for it. This encourages riders to keep at it because you experience success at the start of an obstacle ‘line’ and maybe the middle but then you get a real challenge towards the end, all in a single attempt. Brilliant.
Above: The lines in the Novice section that end with ‘safe’ intermediate difficulty.
Above: The lines in the Sport/intermediate section that end with ‘safe’ expert difficulty.
This pretty much holds true for the spectacular Expert section, too, i.e., expert lines end with tougher challenges.
Ken Barker from Cedar Rapids, Iowa was there for the weekend with his son Will and buddy Adam Knutson. I first met Ken up at the Cuyuna Lakes MTB Trail System last summer when we both were riding over a big rock out in the middle of somewhere. As you can see from this 90-second video, Ken can do it all, even in his Sunday best sport coat and pigtail hat:
Ken and I figured out one way to ride the hamster wheel without putting your feet down: ride in fast and up as high as you can go without falling backwards; lock both brakes until the wheel starts to move, then pedal quarter turns with the same foot to keep the wheel moving; use your elbows against the hub and spokes as needed to keep your balance. Way fun. I’d like to be able to make it without any elbow dabs.
I saw one guy clean this skinny on Saturday but I didn’t get his name. Ken and I tried it dozens of times, only rarely making it past the highest part. I finally cleaned it once late in the day on Sunday. w00t!
On the far right of the Expert section are two lines constructed of rocks and logs. The left line is much skinnier, dips up and down, and is crooked and slippery. Ken and I tried it dozens of times, only rarely making it past the big stump on the left. Twice I made it to the last 3 feet (red arrow) but then fell off. Neither Ken or I ever made it but a guy from Iowa named TJ Davis (above right with his dad, Tom Davis) made it once. I guess I’ll have to go back.