From The Dash, the journal of the Darwen Dashers

Stop Crashing, Start Riding ……

……… said the strapline for the mountain biking skills course. Perfect for myself and Ms Ducky, with
several years worth of falling off mountain bikes under our belts. We opted for a women only course,
hoping that our fellow participants might be as soft as us. Sunday morning saw 6 of us duly assembled
at the Dog and Partridge, Tosside, eyeing each other nervously and wondering if we might be out of
our depth. Our course leader, Ed, plied us with hot coffee and reassured us. Then came a thorough
check of our trusty steeds, to make sure none of us was riding a death trap. A few minor tweaks and
the bikes all passed the MOT. But would the riders?

We headed off into Gisburn forest, and rode a nice blue trail, which I think we all found quite easy. So,
straight into smug mode. This was short lived till we went back over it, one by one in short sections,
under Ed`s beady eye. No hiding place. Between us we clocked up the full set of riding sins (sitting
like a bag of spuds, locked out arms, inappropriate braking, crap cornering, not looking far enough
ahead, leaping off the bike at a tricky bit etc. etc. etc.). We practised the sections, getting better and
better and better, with lots of useful feedback from Ed. We also enjoyed watching other riders run the
gauntlet past us with a full running commentary from Ed. It was nice to discover that 90% of them
were probably worse than us, even though they went fast and looked pretty impressive to our untrained
eyes. Then we learned track stands. Quite a bit of homework needed on this one.

After a slap up lunch and post mortem in the Dog and Partridge, we moved up to a red trail in the after-
noon. Here we practised “flowing” over rough stuff and rolling over small drops, some bigger berms
and tighter corners. Ed`s demos of how to “flow” were a thing of beauty and a goal to aspire to. We
were probably a tad less beautiful, but spiced things up with a few interesting tumbles and some choice
swear words. But we practised the sections, analysed why some things worked and others didn`t, and
got better and better and better. The riding ended with a brilliant swoopy singletrack through the forest
and a race to the pub (we won). A celebratory pint in the Dog and Partridge made a perfect end to a
cracking day.

Ed was a brilliant instructor. He got the measure of us all very quickly and pitched the level of the day
perfectly. He inspired confidence and explained and showed things in a way that made sure you just
“got it”. The balance of challenge and support was just right, and we got lots of personalised feedback.
We all came away with improved riding skills, increased confidence and some specific areas to work
on to improve further. £60 well spent. By next year`s Ale Wobble we will be totally transformed.
Meanwhile, if you come across a couple of glamorous Dashettes, flowing across the moors and down
the trails with supreme skill and confidence . . . . . . . . . . . . . . it probably won`t be us. Yet.

Happy pedalling.

Sue Taylor and Sue Ducky