After the rally skills weekend I did at Sweet Lamb in February, I felt far more comfortable on the bike in general, handling fire-roads and faster sections much more confidently. However, I recognise that when the going gets a bit more technical, I am left lacking. With that in mind I signed up to Burt and Moly’s technical skills course which took place this weekend at the top secret RallyMoto training facility in the Cotswolds.
The course comprised a day of tackling specific technical obstacles on the Saturday, and a trail ride on the Sunday when we would need to put some of those skills into practice.
On Saturday, I found myself doing steep descents and drop-offs, steep climbs including jumps, berms, stream-beds and rocky/loose terrain, slippery descents and short technical climbs/turns/negotiating obstacles around the stream area. There were some bits that I had to walk before I felt able to even contemplate tackling but after getting on with it, I found it far easier than expected and suffered no disasters. By the 2nd or 3rd attempt I was finding some of the more daunting and troublesome obstacles to suddenly become far easier. The most notable for me was a short steep
climb up out of the stream, with a left turn to follow the trail. I was using too much throttle on the climb, and trying to turn at the top, resulting in me almost ending up in the large pond on the other side of the climb. Taking my time, being a bit more subtle with the right hand, and treating it as a steep, uphill left-hander rather than a climb and turn, found my suddenly flying round it without issue.
The biggest thing I learnt from the Saturday’s coaching, was to use the bike’s own momentum to help you on climbs, but also on descents, with correct gear choice. Rather than fighting with the brakes and the bike, let it run, often in a gear higher than I would have normally, and just navigate.
The Sunday’s trail ride saw me putting some of this into practice, and using momentum and a steady throttle on some prolonged, loose climbs got me to the top in no time, and with no drama. The only mishap I really had on the whole weekend was when we were practicing riding diagonally across a rutted field. I ended up not being diagonal enough and the front decided to follow the rut rather than go over it. A bit of a tumble, but nothing was hurt or broken, just a bit of the wind knocked out of me.
All in all, a most EXCELLENT weekend, and as Moly said, even if you only take away 25% of what you actually learn, it’ll make a huge difference.
The biggest thing for me was the boost to my confidence that it gave me. I’m sure there are sections that I’ll just tackle now where before I’d have had more than just second thoughts.
If you fancy joining the next one, then get yourself signed up to the Technical offroad skills weekend at the end of August.