Muddy@rse Does Luca Woods!

26 11 2008

Okay, I will let you all into a secret: I’m not that great at getting my bike airborne. Big air, small air, drop-offs, endo’s, manuals, even wheelies are all a bit of a mystery to me. Sure I can kind of do stunts but they’re more of the ‘accidental’ variety (I now have a log named after me in Stanmer park for this very reason). This is a bit of a pity as I’d really like to learn.

Obviously I’m not alone in this as, when Muddy@rsers Rich and Donna put out an invitation on the forum to spend a few hours in one of their local woods just doing some basic jump practice ‘body armour optional’, this led to 15 of us turning up bright and early, or in my case, slightly late and bleary-eyed, on a Sunday morning at Redhill station for a Muddy@rse ride that was slightly different.

Rich led us on a quick blast through the Sunday morning traffic in Redhill, occasionally stopping (or not, eh Lisa?) for traffic lights and onto quieter roads, then local trails, under the M25 and then on to Luca woods. We were greeted by a couple of ‘friendly’ locals whose views that we couldn’t ride bikes in a private forest were quickly countered by a “actually we do have permission to be here” and quiet mutters of “So, do you then?”

After a quick prep where camelbaks and backpacks were dropped off, elbow and knee pads put on by those who had them and Mings’ more extreme freeride bike admired, we set off for a slow initial run through the jumps in the forest. A short straight run lead to the first small treestump jump, then on to a couple of low earth humps then a couple of gentle left hand corners, one slightly off camber and slippery , then a sequence of a small bombhole/drop-offs leading to a big climb-out/jump. We rode through this slowly as Rich explained the whole sequence could be done quite fast leading to a big grand finale jump. Below this area was a rather more intimidating looking tyre jump but more of that later…

It was decided that the less confident (or in my case, less talented) of the group would stick by the first tree stump jump and just do some basic ‘ride-up and jump off’ an obstacle practice. An initial line was shown by Rich as he first walked through the route we should take, then, to much laughter both Rich and Donna showed the right way to perform a bunny hop without a bike and then Rich, now on the bike, demonstrated the run-up, jump and landing to us all. The whole group each had a go at the first jump whilst the rest of us looked on and suddenly the whole day started to make a lot more sense. You really do learn so much more when you get a chance to look at how other people tackle an obstacle and listen to comments and encouragement from your peers. Rich was on hand to advise where to start the jump, how to line the bike up and get both wheels airborne. Ming was in his element getting his 40lbs jump bike way further into the air on small log jump than I could hope to on my 28lbs XC machine. Everyone started to get more into the idea of jumping the bike. Even Lisa, a dyed-in the wool ‘wheels on the ground’ rider was a study of concentration as she started to get her bike airborne on the first jump.

The group quickly settled into a routine of those who wanted to nail a perfect run at the tree stump and those that wanted to try and string together the whole sequence. The group was really buzzing with confidence now and even the occasional unclipped foot when jumping, slightly muffed take-off or landing wasn’t fazing anyone.

As time was pressing we headed for the tyre-jump: a slightly hairy looking curving downhill run through the forest to an earth and tyre ramp with a good metre high drop-off on the other side. Ming was in take-no prisoners’ mode as he got his dh bike airborne time and again to an appreciative audience. An Evil-Knevil-style photo-shoot was set up with Ming jumping over Rick (lying under the tyre jump with camera at the ready) again to whoops from the rest of us. There was only one other taker for the tyre jump as Gez took several tentative run-ups before committing himself to the jump. A slight, ahem, mistake on the take-off however saw him part company with his bike in mid-air and perform a slightly bumpy landing…soft ground and body armour meaning he just suffered a slightly bruised ego. It was obviously time to go.

A fast run back into Redhill and the traditional coffee and cake finale rounded up a really good fun and useful morning. Everyone, regardless of their initial ability level, felt a bit more confident at the end and bit more willing to, at very least, get both wheels airborne.

Big thanks to Rich and Donna for organising and Ming and Gez for the Jump demo, Guy J




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