Join Natty Newbie as she tries mountain biking for the first time. In this episode she discovers there’s no easy way to learn. Enter our fabulous competition to win your own start-up mountain-bike kit worth R19 000.
Two weeks into mountain biking and I am bruised black and blue! I think my buddies at Ride mag thought I might be less of a couch potato than I am. Tokai’s Faerie Garden is not for absolute beginners still trying to steer their 29ers down the driveway. And roots really can trip you up. Best avoided. I fell off three times. Usually I’d lose momentum and then not get my cleats out the pedals fast enough – splat! Once was into a thicket and not a very comfortable landing. It’s all captured on film, so have a look at the YouTube vid posted at www.ride.co.za. My fat butt must have been too much for the saddle in the end and that came adrift. The next day, I took the Merida in to CycleLab to Steve Bowman and, quick as a flash, a new one was put on the bike. No harm done.
Undeterred, I went exploring on a nearby farm this weekend. The ground and tracks were waterlogged from 20 millimetres of rain the previous day. This changed everything. The first mishap happened half an hour into following a cow-trodden path across a daisy-studded field. There were plenty of shallow puddles and I was becoming quite adept at skimming through them. Then came a long stretch of puddle. Easy, I thought, and pedalled harder. Right in the middle, at speed, the back wheel shot out sideways from under me. I flew through the air, my feet miraculously unclipped themselves and I landed with a splash as big as a breaching whale. It was total immersion. Sadly no camera was around to catch the action. “What you should have been doing,” Tim Brink told me back at the office, “was pushing your weight slightly back to lighten the front wheel and selecting a heavier gear (one more difficult to pedal) so there’s less torque and the back wheel doesn’t slip so easily. It’s much the same technique as riding through sand.”
I wrung out my gloves and took a quick pic of the offending puddle with my iPhone, fortunately safeguarded by a PocPac (cellphone-sized M1 is R55 and a slightly larger bag, the PocPac MTB, is R65 at CycleLab). Once I was back in the saddle, there were a few more puddles to cross (now wise to their dangers, I skirted them) and a few farm gates to open and close. What I didn’t realise was that the muddy ground was clogging up my pedals each time I got off and on the bike. Oblivious, I pedalled on until I reached a pretty dam. Brakes on, unclip feet … unclip feet … hello feet, unclip now… Aaaargh! Splat!
So next lesson learned: bang your feet on the pedals before clipping in to rid your cleats of mud.
This afternoon Ride’s Deputy Editor, Jazz Kuschke and I are going for a ride through the canola fields of the Swartland. I am going to try very hard not to fall off; I promise! But if I do splash down again in a big puddle and Jazz captures it on film, we’ll be sure to put it in the next Natty Newbie blog. In the meantime, send in your entries to win a replica of my full kit worth around R17 000, compliments of CycleLab, Ride magazine and Sanlam Reality.
Pedal on …
Contact CycleLab for a great selection of products in the online store, advice, tours, online race entries and details of the stores round the country.
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WIN Ride, Sanlam Reality and CycleLab are giving one lucky reader the chance to win the full starter kit as described in this blog. All you have to do is follow the series and answer the question below.
Click here to enter the competition. Closing Date is 31 October 2012. The items on the prize equipment list may be exchanged for similar goods of the same or lesser value to cater for individual fit. Click here for the full equipment list for the prize.
Image: Leilani Solomon