How do you become a ninja on your mountain bike? The simple answer is: take a lesson!
With this in mind, and the Passportes Du Soleil event coming up shortly, that’s exactly what More Mountain’s MTB riders did last week with expert coach Jo from RideAbility.
To give you an idea of my mountain bike skill level – I started biking last summer and spent the whole season learning the ropes. I can get down pretty much any trail on the PDS map but never feel like I do it with much finesse. I want to ride faster, with more control and style (don’t we all!).
Our lesson started by riding the blue Atray trail that snakes down from the top of the Pleney telecabine in Morzine. Jo asked us to ride a series of berms so he could watch and assess our skills (or lack of). Once he’d seen us ride he was straight into dishing out some advice.
Firstly, we covered picking a line – it turns out I’ve been doing it wrong. This was partly down to not fully understanding the best techniques but mainly down to not having the skill to make the bike do what I want. With Jo’s help I soon felt I was making progress on this.
Next up was a bike handling technique to use when traversing a slope or cornering on flat corners. Leaning the bike is something you instinctively do but it isn’t until an expert breaks down every movement that you realise how important your whole body position is.
It was during this exercise that a thunderstorm blew in from Avoriaz. As you might imagine a big metal telecabine and lightning don’t mix well so the operators promptly stopped the Pleney lift.
“Pas de probleme” said Jo as we followed him into an underground car park where we learnt improved manualing and bunny hop techniques in the dry. At first I was impressed with Jo’s ingenuity but thinking about it I’m sure its not the first time a thunderstorm has stopped play during one of his lessons!
Once the danger of a lightning strike turning the telecabine into a human microwave had past we headed back up the mountain. The plan was to ride the same blue run and try to apply the techniques we had learnt. I’d taken in a lot during our lesson and it was difficult to remember to do it all whilst flying down the mountain but I think managed to apply a couple of key techniques that made me feel like I was riding in a more controlled manner.
Now, a week on I can confirm that Jo’s lesson stuck with me. Whilst out riding this weekend I was blasting trails faster and in more control than ever before. For me his pointers about picking a line as well as his cornering techniques were the takeaway points and I’ll be continuing to practice them as the season goes on.
Jo Pauly is french qualified mountain bike coach who owns and operates RideAbility in Morzine and he comes highly recommend by More Mountain.
This summer we have also partnered with him to offer our MoreAbility Mountain Bike Skills Week which runs on the week of July 19th 2014.