Monday, August 24, 2009

A whole day of cross practice = sore and bruised

A few months ago, I bit the bullet and signed up for a cross skills clinic. Saturday, under imminent threat of thunderstorms, about 40 of us showed up at Lake Reston to generally confuse the birthday picnickers by riding in circles on the grass doing silly things.

The clinic, organized by a couple of Mid-Atlantic area coaches (Chris Mayhew and Dan Tille), featured American pro Jeremy Powers - well fueled with all the sugar he can handle by Jelly Belly sport beans. I want his bike. With the carbon zipp wheels. It would be a little big, but I think I could manage.

They asked us at the beginning - what is your goal for today? I said something about getting rid of my stutter step on a remount. I had signed up as a "beginner" despite the fact that I'm not nearly as green as some of the others there. This was because really I wanted someone to force me to do the technical work very slowly and perfectly. I'm hoping to perfect my mounts, dismounts, carries and barriers this year - I can learn off-side dismounts etc later.

At first, I was a bit anxious about whether I'd get enough good coaching. The beginners started with FatMarc Vettori - a guy I knew some from when he talked me through a pretty big bonk in the pit at my first MTB enduro race, but not one of the coaches named on the clinic announcement. Turns out, this was great. JPow, Chris, and Dan are great, but they clearly often work with more experienced racers. I think JPow is so good he forgets that we mere mortals have to run-up things he'd fly up without downshifting. FatMarc had the good sense to take us slowly through remounts - not getting close to a barrier for nearly 3 hours. Exactly what I was hoping for. And he yells louder encouraging things than anyone. When we got to "keep" Marc for the entire day, I was pretty happy to keep building on the rapport that we'd had going as a group.

A few notes:
-My friend Jess, who crashed a bit on a dismount slicing up her knee on her chainring (ouch!), managed to get a private lesson from JPow himself. Then had 3 good lookin' skinny men with doctoring experience surrounding her to patch up the knee. Her boyfriend Zeke, being the good man that he is, let her enjoy the moment.

-Funny kids there. A couple of guys I'd say were about 10... attention span for a whole day or even 10 minutes of talking is a lot, as are clipless pedals. The theme on the day was anytime someone talked too long, one or more of the younger folk would lean on the side of their bike they had clipped in and promptly fall over. No one was hurt and they had a ton of perserverence throughout the day. Best part for us - they begged JPow to bunny hop some barriers. First he said nah, he hadn't practiced yet. Then he looked at the line a little harder and saw an easier line and showed off a bit. Smooooth like butter. Did I mention the kids had an unlimited supply of caffeinated energy jelly beans all day?

-I got more mud on me than anyone. Maybe I did more circles through the muddy spots? And I've got hugely black and blue bruises on my elbow and shoulder from mistakes throwing the bike up there. I thought about posting pics of my elbow, but decided better of it.

-Not much work on cornering. I was okay with that - we do a lot at Nystrom's practice during the season and I'm a mountain biker at heart, so that's not my weakest technical area. I imagine a few of the roadies were disappointed.

-My right quad and calf are sorer than the left. Since I can't think of a way I generated this asymmetry at a mountain bike race where I barely rode a few miles, I attribute it to mounting and dismounting more times in a day than I probably will all year in all the races... combined.

-Good schwag for a clinic. JPow brought crank brothers hats (yay, I got one!), sport beans, t shirts, etc. I came home with a hat, stickers, a new pump (thanks Cannondale), and some sports balm samples. And a pair of highly coveted Tufo Tubular Clincher tires - FatMarc being the awesome guy he is brought all his old cross tires that he doesn't love for whomever to take. I snagged a new blue one and a slightly used red one. And I don't care if they don't match - those are the tires I'm planning to run this year on most dry races and they are way hard to find.

-I got a mention on FatMarc's blog even. Thanks. I definitely owe him a beer - tires and awesome coaching!

I definitely learned stuff I didn't know. Like what, you ask? There will probably be a specific post at some point soon. I've got to let a bit of it settle before the really important points become obvious.

1 comment:

  1. If you have any suggestions on what we could do to improve the clinic, esp in regards to beginners or cornering, please let us know.

    Thank you for coming, and the blog post!