- BC Games
Getting a jump on downhill mountain biking
All photos by T. Hynd
We were a small group of five in the advanced group including our stellar instructor Aidan Jones who provided personalized steps launching us to the next level.
The Women’s Intermediate and Advanced Mountain Bike (MTB) Camp was the last of three skills training sessions specifically for women this summer at Fernie Alpine Resort. The group split into two groups of intermediate and advanced riders with Heather Johnson leading the intermediate group.
The thing about skills training camps is it’s not all about pedaling down the mountain as fast as you can. Sometimes it means pushing your heavy downhill bike back up the hill to redo a feature or piece of difficulty after getting feedback. It all depends on how you’re feeling. There is no pressure except for how much you want to get out of it for yourself that day.
Cheryl Tracy-Gould signed up for the two-day camp for two reasons. “I wanted to meet other women in town who downhill. I’ve been riding with guys or by myself. Riding by myself, I find I’m picking up bad habits and keeping them. I want to learn (how to do) jumps. Now I know ‘load and explode.’ I’ve never heard of that before. Now I can take advantage of the trail features, not waste them.”
“Today’s bikes are (relatively) light. It’s a lot about weighting the bike to use traction and let the bike do the work,” said Jones. He practices what he speaks. Jones has been ski instructing for two years and MTB racing in the United States this year.
When it comes to coaching or instructing, “I like watching people progress, especially these ladies with jumps. They are cleaning jumps they couldn’t (yesterday).”
Alicia Ens and Megan Lees both came from Calgary with friends and family for the weekend and the camp. Lees’ parents got her into mountain biking when she was 17 years old so they came for the weekend to cycle as well.
“This is my first year with a downhill mountain bike and I’ve had no previous instruction. The flooding (this spring) wrecked a lot of biking areas around Calgary like Canmore,” said Ens.
The advantage of improving riding skills is gaining and maintaining control of you and your bike rather than simply pushing the limit based on your adrenalin tolerance. You actually do become a better skilled rider, which increases fun and decreases injury and misery. Thanks Heather and Aidan!