Its all in the head

There are different types of mountain biking activities from simple fire road and cycle path riding to full on down hill racing and the famous Red Bull Rampage style events. When I bought my first bike 2 years ago I was expecting to get out on a Sunday morning and ride along by the canal and get some fresh air and maybe take some photos. This changed quite quickly to me wanting to ride more adventurous and challenging locations that required more skill than just remaining upright.

I have no desire to leap off cliffs like Kurt Sorge, or balance across high beams like Danny MacAskill but I do want to push myself and get at least a bit of a thrill from “dropping in” from something that I can’t climb up or to jump a gap or climb over a tricky obstacle.

These aren’t huge challenges – I won’t be doing a road gap jump any time soon or front flipping off the ramparts at Edinburgh Castle – but i want to do something that gets my blood pumping a little faster and means I have to concentrate a little harder to make it happen. It’s about doing something that if it went a bit wrong you could hurt yourself.

The problem is that we, and me in particular, have a habit of over analysing and thinking about these obstacles:

  • What if I fall off?
  • What if it hurts?
  • What if I break something?
  • What if someone sees me falling off?
  • What if I fall off and it hurts and I break something and no-one sees me to phone for help?

You get the picture!

Often these are irrelevant questions, and more often the drop or jump isn’t nearly as steep or as high as you first thought. I have found my confidence in my own abilities and the bike’s capabilities has grown and now (still within certain limits) I find that I will go over a drop and not think too much. Only to look back and think “that was bigger than I thought” and convince myself not to have another go!

MTB DropI have ridden with some experienced riders and even been on an MB Swindon Skills Course; and having learnt a few basic techniques for shifting your weight about on the bike I am now much more confident.

I will try to cover some techniques and obstacles in future posts.

Building Confidence

jumps drops and steps

Some local kids tried to build some dirt jumps on a bit of land near my house a while ago. Its in plain site of the road and I am not sure they were supposed to do it but they did, and I ride there from time to time. Its gone to ruin and I haven’t seen anyone do anything there other than smoke and drink in the last couple of years.

There are 2 small areas like this quite close to my home (ie with in a 2 minute ride) and I would like to use them as a small practice playground. Only problem is that they don’t drain very well. The trees have recently been cut back drastically in the one in the photo, and I think this will slow the draining down further as there will be nothing to drink the excess rain water.  I suppose only time and a little dry weather will tell.

The area pictured above can be used for jumping practice and boy do I need that!

The other area, not pictured is more secluded (but wetter), would be great for a little skills loop. Nothing has been built there at all but I discovered it last year when out looking for our cat that had gone AWOL. It has some potential, nothing serious but some steep (but short) drops and small step-ups could easily be adapted from the natural features around the stream and among the tree roots.

Both these areas are within limping distance of my house could be used to hone some much needed skills

So my question to those that are listening is, what are the rules for taking a spade (even just a little bit) to public land and digging a small hole or two?

I know that “digging” goes on all over but what does the law say?

Related post on PinkBike but not UK based information…