I had heard many great things about the Trek Dirt Series but I was a bit nervous to sign-up. The main reason I was hesitant to register was that I was afraid of jumps and drops. The last time there was air under my tires, I ended up head over handlebars with 2 broken ribs. Since that time, I had healed and enjoyed mountain biking while always keeping the tires on the ground. I am so glad that I did not let my fear stop me from participating in the clinic.
It was amazing. I had fun and learned a ton of new skills. The coaches were friendly, patient, knowledgeable and enthusiastic. There were enough coaches (1:6 coach to participant ratio) to get individual feedback. Each participant was encouraged to step outside her comfort zone a bit, but each woman chose her level of challenge.
Registration was well organized. Participants that rented gear were fitted to their bikes. Coffee and bagels were provided. After registration we headed over to a park-like area with a large grassy field and hill behind an elementary school.
We started with 20-minutes of yoga to warm-up and stretch. After that, the coaches divided us into appropriate skill level groups using the questionnaires we had filled out ahead of time. Skill sessions addressed both “flow” and technical skills including drops, skinnies, switchbacks, front wheel lift, rear wheel lift, fast turns, and more.
Skills Sessions on the Grass
The skills sessions were extremely well planned to allow each participant to work at her own pace through the progressions. The progressions in the skills sessions allowed me to start on a “drop” the size of a curb, so I didn’t think twice about that. As we sessioned the curb sized “drop”, the coach gave tips and pointers on how to appropriately “preload” for a drop. This was a light-bulb moment for me – I had no idea there was supposed to be a preload before a drop… having the knowledge that there was something in my control about drops, made them much less scary for me.
After several rounds of applying the skills, and receiving tips to help get my timing right, I decided that I would be able to try the next level drop – only about 12 inches, but still intimidating. Although I was a bit scared, I tried it using the skills I used on the small drop and was successful. By the time the session was over, I even did the largest drop!
Hitting the Trail
Following lunch (delicious locally made sandwiches and salads), each level group headed out to ride. Our group rode well together. We had a great time and stopped to session drops and turns while the coach gave us tips and encouragement. It was a fun afternoon. Our group had started to feel like friends – encouraging each other, laughing together and celebrating when someone tried something challenging. We had one fall when we were out riding. One woman slid out and scraped her arm. The coach bandaged her up quickly and made sure she was ok to continue riding.
The second day was set up the same way, skills in the morning and then we headed out to ride the trails.
More Practice = Closer to Perfect
My group worked on tight turns in the morning on the grass hill. “Keep your head up, look through the turn to the exit”. This skill was new but not too difficult on the grass, but when we went out on the trails, most of us were struggling on the tight turns on the trails. Our coach stopped us on one corner and we practiced several times. It was getting easier, but I still didn’t feel super comfortable looking past the rocky apex of the turn.
However, that trail practice session made a huge difference. For the rest of the ride, I focused on keeping my eyes up and looking 15-20 feet ahead on the trail at each turn. By the end of the day, I was turning better than I ever had before. It felt great!
I loved Trek Dirt Series!
I highly recommend the Trek Dirt series. It was well organized with a supportive group vibe and excellent coaches. I learned so much that I came home and set up some of the drills for my family in the park!