Getting ready to ride

Ever have one of those days when you go out full of enthusiasm, but then nothing you do seems to work? Well, that was what this session was like. At least in the first 3/4 of the session.

A very narrow and wiggly skinny

My rear brakes had been slipping pretty badly during the past couple rides, and I had been procrastinating on giving my rear wheel rim a much-needed grind. Finally, on a gorgeous sunny afternoon, I figured it was time. I lugged my tools and bike outside to enjoy the sunlight and fresh air while grinding the rim. It was definitely worth it, of course, as the brakes immediately gained a solid bite, which certainly didn’t hurt my riding any.

I also haven’t ridden much at home lately, so my backyard trials practice area needed a little bit of TLC before riding – it was covered in oak leaves. After a quick bit of leaf-raking, I was in business. Well. At least the area was ready for riding – I’ll put it that way.

Like I mentioned before, it’d been a long time since I’d ridden the rocks in my backyard practice area, so I am still a bit rusty. Though to be honest, even when I was riding a lot more, I still struggled with these rocks. I like using the rocks for practicing balance and control, because they are irregularly shaped (making it harder) and have very low consequence for fails and bails since they’re so low to the ground. The dirt out here is also really loose, making it harder to set up for moves, making dirt stick in the tire treads, and making the rocks all slippery. (That reminds me, I need to order some processed gravel…) Anyway, one day I’ll eventually master this spot, but for the time being, it’s still a struggle to actually complete any of the lines I attempt. But it’s also really good practice.

Getting that Kenda grip and launching into a gap

After trying a few different lines and a bunch of camera angles, I decided it was time to move on from stuff I had trouble doing to things I felt confident that I could do. While any riding is good, it’s helpful for morale to actually feel like I can accomplish something. Sometimes when I’m struggling, I try to revert back to some easier lines and moves to feel at least some success, so that was the plan.

I started with some pedalups, then some skinnies, and finally, some moves on a massive pallet that looks like a section of train tracks (but much narrower). The pedalups gave me more trouble than I had anticipated, but I did manage to get one that was pretty solid. I surprised myself on the wobbly 2×4 skinny beam. That usually requires many attempts, especially (ironically) when the camera is going. But this time I was able to nail it in both directions with only a handful of attempts. The “train track” pallet was fun, but I could not quite do what I wanted to do, since the distance between the “rails” is less than my wheelbase, making it really awkward. regardless, I tried a couple of techniques to gap it. The gap distance is really easy since it’s so narrow; the trick is the setup – and like on any rail, making sure your rear wheel isn’t behind the rail when you launch. Thankfully this rail has no real consequences for that little blunder.

Despite some frustrations, it was still good to be on the bike. I haven’t been riding much lately – even at home – due to the now nearly healed lateral epicondylitis in my arm, the winter weather, and my schedule. It felt good to ride my practice area again. I’m hoping to add some features to it this spring, so I’m definitely looking forward to that (both springtime and the new trials features).

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