BettyGoHard - Taking the Intimidation out of Action Sports - providing the tools & information to build confidence, skills & friendship to help women of all ages, levels and lifestyles Get Out and Be Active!
The Second Ride – Alert Bay
To be honest I hope that nobody is reading this - it is the long weekend after all, and you should all be out playing!
I posted a link on the Betty facebook site to a recent article on Pinkbike entitled 'Why no Y?', another article lamenting the lack of ladies in MTB. You can read the full article on Pinkbike, and look at the pretty girl riding pictures.
I was motivated to write a response to this article because I believe it is time that we all admit that the MTB industry is changing, and changing for the better. MTB is no longer struggling in the backwater, it is gaining traction and becoming a sport that is gaining participation from men women and children from all walks of life.
I know I live in a bike-mad part of the world, but I started out in places where biking was a minority and girls even more so. I have traveled around and seen what works, and I want Pinkbike to share the success stories, not just the sob stories.
Forgive me, but I have published my response directly with Pinkbike in the hope that they put it on the front page and get some real dialogue going.
Please visit my response 'XX or XY? Bikes don't care', leave a comment and help me build something positive into our fantastic MTB community!
I hope your long weekend is full of sunshine and action!!
Definitely an outdoors kind of day. Tantalus Range, Squamish BC (Photo Pip Gardiner)
I love my brain - it is constantly surprising me. Case in point - my ability to get back on the bike after ignoring it for several months over winter.
A lot of research has been done into how humans learn complex physical tasks like riding a bike. Even riding a bike in a straight line on the flat requires a lot of work. Think about how many muscles are working to balance and move forward. Think about how much information is going from your brain to your muscles via the nerves. Not to mention the sensory information pinging back and being processed. Then think about how much more is happening when you are bombing your favourite track, dodging chipmunks and dominating obstacles.
If you think back to learn a new skill, you might remember that your movements were uncertain, a little bit stiff. You probably had to concentrate really hard to do it right - I still stick my tongue out when snowboarding down steep stuff or through trees! When you repeat motor skills over and over again, your brain consolidates the information them to a point where eventually, you are able to perform them without thinking about them. This packaging of complex movements is known as muscle memory. Without our brain taking control like this, we would not be able to achieve that magical state of mind called flow.
This week the weather gods smiled on Squamish, drying out the trails and flooding the valley with warm golden sunshine. Back in the saddle? Yes please. Tyres pumped, brakes checked and bag packed. On with the shorts (told you it was warm!), some wool for luck and I am off. I plan on shorter ride close to home - a 20 minute fire road climb to the trail head then a couple of xc trails down with enough roots and rocks thrown in to make it interesting.
At the top of the trail I stop and unlock everything, wind the forks out. A few seconds to breathe then I am off...
...and a little rusty!! My brain is in overdrive trying to remember which foot and hand to weight around corners and where I need to be looking. I make progress but wibble and wabble disgracefully. Halfway down I realise I am in the wrong gear, and a little further down I realise I have forgotten to use my uppy-downy seat post.
But just before the trail ends I glimpse it...that fine form I was in at the end of last season. It may only have lasted a few turns, but it proves that those muscle memories are still there waiting to be woken up.
Here’s to muscle memory and mid-winter rides. Anyone else excited for the summer of riding ahead?
This endurance athletic event will come to Kaslo on October 1st & 2nd, 2011. A 2 day Multi-discipline Stage Race including XC & DH mountain biking & trail running amidst the spectacular scenery of the Selkirks in an area steeped in history. Challenge yourself to complete one stage or compete for the Monster Challenge or Cody Quest Challenge to be the overall greatest sufferer!
There will also be a kid’s event taking place on the Kaslo River Trail. Kids ages 13 and under will have the option of biking or running down the Kaslo River Trail on the side closest to town. They will start from the bridge and leave one at a time at :30 second intervals. 8 & under will complete the 2k distance, 9-13 yr olds will complete a 4k course.
All races will finish on Front Street in downtown Kaslo in front of the historic Kaslo Hotel overlooking spectacular Kootenay Lake. Front Street will be blocked off, a professional race announcer will be covering the race and a live video will be shown via large screen projector. The finish area will be extremely exciting for all. It will include a 10ft high wooden jump for the bikers to enter Front Street 'in the air' if they choose, putting on a show for the spectators.
Courses Info & Maps
**Please note, all areas of the course are habitat for bears, cougars, deer, elk, moose, grouse, woodpeckers and much much more... please take caution.
Schedule of Events:
XC “no drop” group rides
- Beginner – Evening Ridge, Shasta, Expresso
- Intermediate – Log Jam, Frog Jam
- Meet at Mountain Station at 5pm
DH Rides – free shuttles courtesy of Dirt Tours to Giveout Creek Trails
- 4:00 Shuttle leaving from Sacred Ride
- 5:30 Shuttle leaving from Gerick's
- First come, first Served
Fat Tire Kick Off Party: Starting at 7:30pm at Jackson’s Hole and Grill, enjoy food and drink specials and good times!
Rosemont Events: kids XC, Dirt Jump Jam, BBQ, kids activities, trials demos
10:00 sign in/registration (available for all events)
10:30 2-5 year olds race; awards
11:00 6-8 year olds race; awards
11:30 9-12 year olds race; awards
12- 2 Dirt Jump Jam
11- 2 BBQ hosted by the Kootenay Lake Outdoor Skateboard Park Society; Kids Activities – bike decorating, face painting, activities courtesy of the NDCC
5:00 Parade Gathering: meet in front of Gerick’s Cycle with decorated bikes
5:15 Parade Start – to Sacred Ride
5:45 Crit starts: 2-5 year olds
5:55 6-8 year olds
6:10 9-12 year olds
6:20 13-17 year olds
7:45 Clunker Crit – it’s free! Bring your funkiest bike and join in!
8:00 Awards (teens and adults)
Post Race party @ the Royal - they will be offering food specials and have donated prizes for the crit...even the crowd can win, so don't forget to come down and watch!
Sunday: Morning Mountain
8:00 sign-in/ registration
8:45 race instructions (@ start)
9:00 race start
11:30 race end
11:00 DH Sign on and practice runs
1:00 DH race start
We've got a kids tent and activities, so if Mom and Dad want to participate in an event, the kids will be occupied. And if you are worried about being hungry, don't be - we've got food vendors (BBQ, wraps, gelato!).
I am about to give you the key to speed. One phrase. Are you ready?
Don't use the brakes.
Don't look so disappointed. What were you expecting, Magic? I don't mean to not use them at all, just use them less.
One of the best ways to improve your riding is to go with someone that is faster than you. Not way faster, so that you get discouraged, but a bit faster, so you really have to work to keep up. Once you've found someone that fits the bill, try following them through some downhill singletrack. Notice how the gap keeps getting bigger? You're not doing much pedaling so it's not likely a strength issue. What could it be? I'll tell you, the faster rider is using their brakes less.
Have you ever been on a ride when, for some reason, you had no brakes, or a lot less than you wanted? Maybe a cable broke or your rims iced up or something. I know it was scary. Careening downhill, unable to slowdown to a comfortable speed, you thought you were going to die. But you survived, and you went down that hill a lot faster than you otherwise would have. If you want to go faster every ride you need to harness a bit of that experience and apply it in a more controlled manner.
Moving out of our comfort zone can make us apprehensive. To try to calm the fears of your rational mind have your irrational mind tell it this: Speed is our friend; Speed brings stability; Stability is good. The wheels underneath do more than just hold us up. They also act as gyroscopes, like those spinny things you may have played with as a kid. They're also the things that keep spacecraft stable in the vacuum of space. The faster a gyroscope spins, the more rigidity it has. This means the faster your wheels are turning the more they will fight to stay upright and pointed straight ahead, just what we want. Now you know why sometimes when you get anxious and slow down you biff, but if you stay fast and ride it out you make out okay and look like a hero.
The hard part is knowing how fast is really too fast and when to say whoa. You can set yourself up with an exercise to explore these limits. Find a section of downhill singletrack steep enough that you won't have to pedal much and fast enough that you definitely have to brake for the corners. (Keep IMBA happy and make sure you won't encounter any hikers or horses on the way down). Make your first run at your normal blistering speed. Try to note where you apply the brakes for each corner. On the next run, each time you reach for the brakes fight the impulse for one second. Remember that every bit of speed that you can carry through the turn is speed you don't have to gain back on the next straight. And that's energy in the bank, my friend, better than money. A little bit saved every corner can really add up over the course of a trail.
In all your subsequent training runs try to brake just a tick later than the time before. It is super important to ensure that you are only using one or two fingers on your brakes - no three, four or five fingers - what are you holding on with? Although some might suggest that a tip to avoid the temptation to brake too early or when you really don't need to is to ride with all eight fingers wrapped around the bars. I personnally subscribe to the theory that you should always be brake ready including uphill climbs.
The key to pushing the envelope is to do it gradually, in small increments. Riding a downhill with your front brake disconnected may make teach you how to go really fast. More likely, it'll teach you just how brittle collarbones really are. Even though improvements may seem small one corner at a time, it will add up and it will make a difference. You worked way too hard for that speed to just turn it into heat for no good reason.
Good luck and stay safe!
Thanks to Dirtworld.com Staff for more tips and biking information visit them at www.dirtworld.com
BettyGoHard is well into our biking season and it has been so much fun to be out with the ladies. It is amazing to see the improvements of the groups from week one to week four. The biggest improvement that I see is the increase in confidence in themselves and their new found skills that the girls get with each new achievement. Mountain biking is as much about keeping the mind quiet as it is about negotiating the trail skillfully. You can have all the skills but if you keep telling yourself that you can’t do it you probably won’t.
I once read that our brain cannot distinguish between the messages that it receives from you (the owner of the brain) and someone else, which is why affirmations and mantras are so effective. I have borrowed my favorite climbing mantra from Thomas the tank engine ‘I think I can, I think I can, I know I can, I know I can, I am, I am – yeeha!! I made it. I have found focusing the brain on the task at hand with a mantra – ‘look, lean, exit’ or focus on your body position; tighten the abs, lift your hips, cowboy legs, look ahead etc.
There are many different skills to mountain biking and the ones that we have been working on a lot have been bike body separation, climbing and switchbacks. So over the next few weeks I thought I would share a few thoughts on these skills. Let’s start with climbing:
Don't be in a hurry. When starting a climb, settle down and relax, breathe deeply, get into a rhythm and focus on the trail ahead and your line. Do not try to keep up with other riders. You have your own climbing pace, don’t try and compete just stick to it and you will make it. Don't be looking way up ahead and thinking "yikes!" and "aargh!" Getting flustered or panicky is counterproductive: it wastes energy and induces negative physiological reactions. Stay in the moment. Look around and enjoy the view. Smile. You will get up there and beyond, one pedal stroke at a time. You will find that as the minutes pass, you will feel better and stronger, as your system adapts to the effort.
Think about your gears and change them whenever you need to, just remember if you are going uphill don’t crank on them or you could break something. Don't spin madly in a tiny gear and go nowhere fast--you'll just tire yourself out in short order. Use a ratio that gives some resistance.
Scan your body frequently to ensure correct position as we get tired we tend to slump, just keep adjusting. Don't tense your upper body; keep your shoulders down, elbows bent and in, head up and looking ahead, picking your line. Your upper body should be straight and quiet; only your legs should be moving. Ensure that you have even weight over the front and back of the bike; if you find that the front wheel is lifting think about bringing your chest to your handlebars but remember to keep your bum back on the seat to keep the weight on the rear tire or you will find it spinning. Another common issue is the front wheel moving from side to side, keep it solid by tightening your core and looking up.
Dismounting. Sometimes the slope gets too steep or we don’t quite make it around the switchback – it happens and its ok but we do need to ensure that we can dismount safely. This will enable you to try things safely without the risk of going backwards downhill upside down.
The technique: while going uphill grab both brakes and put your inside foot on the ground leaving the outside foot on the pedal forming a tripod. From here either bring your outside leg over the bike or take the pedal to the top of the stroke and try to restart – always holding both brakes. Use the same technique when going downhill.