Our mountain biking group is off to a ripping start! We did our first ride last Saturday, a relatively simple fire-trail in Terrey Hills, to gauge our current fitness and skill levels. It was 14km and took us an hour and a half. Yesterday we did a full day clinic, with Northern Beaches based company, Life's An Adventure. We started at 9am with basic bike repairs, tool kits, etc. They showed us how to change a tyre, break and repair a chain, and other very useful things. They gave us some great recommendations on what take with us on every ride.
From here we moved to a nearby oval, where we practised simple bike handling skills - like stopping (without skidding!), ratcheting (for tight corners and tricky bits), and getting up and down obstacles (without getting off your bike!). While all the theory was held in dense shade, we practised on an open field, and were relieved to settle down for a BBQ lunch.
Slightly over-full (more than one of us was carrying a food-baby), we were then expected to leap up and embark on a 22km ride, covering some of the tracks we did last week. We were given opportunities to practise our skills on rock ledges, slippery steep slopes, and undulating hills. One by one, our group got smaller, as the heat, dehydration, lack of fitness, or bike failure took each participant out (we collected them on the way back)! It was extremely tough going in the last kilometre to the half-way mark, and one of our team gave it all he had, and combusted a few hundred metres from the resting point. Unfortunately he had to ride back feeling like this, and while gastrolyte and a muesli bar went some way to rectifying him, he was too exhausted to ride much in the 11km home.
To our last men standing, Di, Marina, Chris, and myself - well done us! And well done everyone else for giving it their best shot (Jenn in particular who only got off a plane from the UK on Friday night, couldn't sleep and was surfing the internet at 2am, and still rocked up on time and ready to go).
We are all riding better, and learned some new skills. Next week we test them on Manly Dam!