Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Learning to ride in the Soufth

Making the appointment for a learners' was a mission. I think I went queue about 5 times before I could actually get the appointment. (In November as December, as soon as the system is fully booked for that year, you can't make an appointment before they rolled over to the next year ... but although they only roll over IN the new year, they can't tell you that, so you have to go queue again).

Getting the bike was even more difficult. I knew I wanted secondhand dual purpose. Dual Purpose, because if I'm worse off than with my mountain bike, I'm not switching. And secondhand, because I was going to fall with it, and I don't know if I'm actually going to like biking.

I responded to various adverts for bikes that matched the criteria, but I was always just too late to get the bike - it was sold just an hour ago, but if I come in they can show me some new bikes? In the beginning I did go in .... and then got exposed to various smous tricks. There was the salesman trying to convince me that I actually need an offroad-bike and refusing to even show me some dual-purpose bikes ("No. How do I get to where I want to ride?" "Oh, but we sell trailers too"). Then there was the guy who showed me endless videos of all the competitions he's won, and his baby boy riding, and his wife on podiums ...

OK, so in the end Hardy found a TW in a bike shop in the Soutfh somewhere. It was ancient - 2004, I think, but fulfilled all the requirements: engine in good condition, old enough to not worry too much if I scratch it, cheap enough to sell it a year later if biking wasn't for me, roadworthy, and my feet could reach the ground comfortably. It looked like a tractor, but it was a match :)

Next thing up, I had to learn to ride it. 

Hardy's parents' house is just one block and one busy-ish street away from singletrack and wide open spaces. For the first lesson he pillioned me on the back of the TW across the road, so that I could learn take-offs and landings without traffic around me.

For subsequent rides he connected us with an intercom system to safely talk me across the road. Here is Dirt Vader trying to explain to me why it's better to stand up on the bike.

We've explored the area a lot during JoBerg2C training the previous year, and it was fun doing some of our training sprint 'segments' on the bikes.
And what a wonderful playground the South is!

(At this stage, doing the singletrack segments by mountain bike is still very much faster then by TW - but I will certainly go give it a go later.)

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