Originally written May 15th 2020 by Tiffany Ritchie (pictures added June 1st)
After a relatively short introductory root to Lille we headed to Koocanusa the next day. I was told it was "technical with smaller consequences" than the Crowsnest Pass. It has rock, sand, lots of underbrush, deep loamy soil. Whereas the Crowsnest Pass has boulders, shale, tuffs, sandstone, quartz agglomerates, sandstone with some occasional dirt trails. Well, that's not true, actually the Crowsnest Pass does have all those kinds of rock! It also has options for intermediate riding, but we have rough terrain so technical can get sketchy. It's a lot less scary learning to maneuver up and down climbs when it's more dirt than rock! Kook has so much to offer for every experience level, long, wide paths, steep hills, single track, woops you name it.
Getting ready for the second day was every bit as nerve wracking as the first. We were riding with a handful of experienced guys which was intimidating initially, but everyone was really patient and encouraging. We took regular breaks, and the guys offered constructive feedback to improve what I was learning.
I did spend more time standing. I'm tall with long arms, standing is at that perfectly wrong angle that makes my back achy. My body is tense the entire time, that probably doesn't help at all. I'm sure that this will get better with muscle development and I won't be terrified, erm, I mean so excited, forever.
Alan says my bike is peaky, it really wants to get up and go. This makes me feel wildly out of control when I am standing, especially trying to change gears, or brake while standing.
There's a dirt biking term I became very familiar with on day two: Whiskey throttle. That's when you grab a bit too much throttle and the result is a whole lot more too much throttle.
Here is a fun little clip
Tiffany meets tree! No harm no foul! If only I had learned from it, here watch the rest of the video: https://youtu.be/NCwo4rNkp-M?t=35
Here's the highlights I wish I could subtitle into the video:
43 secounds - *crack* impact with tree
49 secounds - proves what I have always said "I don't cry, I roar". Truth be told I thought that was just wishful thinking and posturing until I watched this. See, visualization, it's a thing!
56 secounds - is me stating "I was going to fast" Alan agrees and tells me I need to "grab a little brake, that's all"
106-109 secounds - was some more complaining noises from me while I looked up at the sky and thought that maybe I am to old for this $#!+
Then Alan tells me about brake control and dragging my brakes... I was mostly groaning internally.
Once I got my butt up off the ground and realized I was hurt but not broken, and my bike was broken but superficially, I started to breath properly again. While Alan Frankenstein-stitched my fender back together with zip ties I was sucking it up and eager to get back on the horse as it were. We rode for a few more hours that day.
This is my favourite picture of the day captured by Darryl Dibben, posted with this caption:
"New Dirt Biker is born.
Dirt bike may have Been harmed in the making of said Dirt biker. haha"
I have a few take-aways from day two:
-When I ran into the tree the trail went left abruptly. Not so abruptly, but abruptly for ME. I was going too fast to be looking far enough ahead, and couldn't slow down fast enough to make the turn. So, you need to be looking well ahead. If you can't look far enough ahead to adjust you are going too fast.
-Keep your elbows up and out. If your elbows are up and out you can move the bike laterally under you. Plus instead of just wrists, your elbows and shoulders help absorb the impact of the bike movement.
Oh, and what does hitting a tree look like? It gets worse before it gets better!