Ming the Merciless goes to see a Jedi Master

4 10 2012

“You must go to the Dagobah system; there you will meet a Jedi Master…….”

Ok so it’s still on Earth but as it was north of the river all my satnav showed was “here there be Dragons”.  I arrived at the training ground and pulled up to be greeted by Tony Doyle of UKbikeskills (aka Jedi on just about every forum going).  Over a cup of uber coffee he asked what I wanted out of the day, now over the last few months I’ve been analysing my riding against people faster than myself, so I wanted to get some of the smoothness and grip I’ve seen people using.  I also explained that I don’t jump very well, very prone to the “Dead Sailor” or “Steve Austin” flight and also improve my roll ins to drops/holes in the ground like Deliverance and the Pit.

We started by a look over the bike, checking lever positions which were uneven, so a quick tweak of my wrist guard stops and brake levers with the Allen key sorted that out.   I then rode around logs in a figure of 8, yes I fell off!  My bunny hop/unweighting technique put my body weight in the wrong position meaning I had less control of the bike.   I had more than a few bad habits from riding fast sports bikes, duff magazine information and my “damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead” method of riding.  Tony carefully unpicked where I was going wrong; looking, position on bike, orientation to bike and corner.  These simple corrections and techniques were carefully explained and demonstrated and soon I was cornering harder on damp off camber grass than on dry Friston hard pack and flying off small jumps in straight level flight with no fuss and drama.

Learning to carve

We moved onto a short section of single-track with berms, speed bumps, flat and off camber corners, a minimus rock garden going into a corner (to focus past a hazard leading to a feature, very clever).  After that it was a jump and a step down into a double apex corner.  The single-track was broken down into sections focussing on one or two features at a time using acquired cornering, mass management and speed judgement skills to ride each section repeatedly gradually stringing them together into a long run.  I wasn’t perfect BUT the important thing was every time I had an unplanned trip or cockup I knew why I had gone wrong.  From my viewpoint that means I can correct my bad habits and improve my technique.

Tony noticed I was flagging a bit so we moved onto steep slopes; again body position, brake usage and looking were key, along with a bit of “headology” to stop ambition outweighing talent.  A few rolls down a bank to sort out brake usage and then we moved onto a near vertical roll in using a far better technique than my usual bum back, gonads rubbing the back wheel, arms at full stretch method.  Tony then introduced a second technique, which when he first said it was a touch Matrix “consider the spoon”.  After two demonstrations I decided I had the confidence and skill set to use this technique (to quote another Jedi Master; there is no try there is only do or do not).  I turned and rolled in and got to the bottom in smooth style (well on the second go at least).   With all that Tony teaches, get it right and there is no fuss or drama, almost an anti-climax, what was all the fuss about.

After this we moved onto the tabletop and applying skills learnt earlier approached the jump in a logical fashion, building up, correcting errors until I was clearing the top and landing on the down slope.  I then had a go at the gapped side of the tabletop clearing it with ease.  After a few goes of this and with mental fatigue beginning to nibble away at edges of riding we called it a day.

Flying high

I went out the next day in pouring rain and fell off a few times, I know why.  I carved a few hard corners on some claggy chalk, astounded at the grip and speed I could carry.  I had a play on Little D; improved body position definitely reduces the tendency to be ejected out of bottom at great if slightly uncontrolled speed.

To reiterate; Tony teaches/shows you some very simple things, but these are critical to riding well.  His methods are calm and easy going, no pressure, no beginner/intermediate/advanced; he teaches the person and gradually ingrains his techniques and sows the seeds of improvements.

Thank you Tony, a most worthwhile upgrade.

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3 responses

6 10 2012
jedi

was a pleasure to meet you ming 🙂

24 10 2012
Guy

You’re famous MIng (or is that infamous?)…you got a mention on Jedis blog: http://vimeo.com/51666712

9 01 2013
HamsterFangs

Been to the Jedi 3 times so far. Far better to spend a little money on coaching rather than fortunes on the latest bling.

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