With many people getting on the bike over the holiday period there's no better time to learn some new or even update your riding skills.
Marika McGuiness is one person who decided to improve her riding by taking part in a mountain bike skills clinic recently held in Tasmania.
What made you want to take part in the skills clinics?
I heard my friends talking about the skills clinic and I have been secretly harbouring a desire to better my skills. My initial thought was 'everybody knows how to ride a bike, don't they'? Then I thought about the times I wobbled, misjudged a corner or held my breath releasing it with a gush as I realised I'd made it through another ride unscathed. That's why I wanted to do this course. Bonuses are - it's with other women dont judge but encourage and its free which makes you appreciate it more.
Can you explain a little of what you learnt and the importance of those skills?
First it was simply bike safety, body position and braking. Using a system to check for any loose parts of the bike, tyre pressure, suspension etc Having fun names for body positions like 'chicken pecker' helped learn in a fun informative way and getting us to repeat these newly learnt postures helped cement them. How and when to use front and rear brakes. Feeling what it was like to actually skid and not being afraid when you perhaps did by accident. That led to trail etiquette by explaining that it can degrade a great trail if everyone goes around skidding! Then we went through more technical body positions, when to use them and getting comfortable and confident with each one combined with our braking. We are shaping up to be more confident, mature female shredders!!
What makes a clinic like this important to your riding?
This clinic is a timely reminder to me that this recreational activity needs a combination of skills and confidence to be able to relax and enjoy each outing. I already feel safer.
Would you encourage others to do it and why?
I would, and have already encouraged other people especially women to do this course as it makes the trails safer for all users if everyone has at least a base level of skills to get them out of trouble. A lot of my friends have young children who are really wanting to ride and the ladies often end up being the shuttlers so as the dad and kids can ride (In my experience) I realise this attitude is changing through the MTB community, but courses like this are invaluable to set people up with a new skill that can be enjoyed by the whole family encompassing fun and safety.
If you or a family member is interested in taking part in a skills clinic in your region, keep an eye on the AusCycling website for skills clinics in Newcastle, Cairns, Perth and Adelaide..