This past weekend I had the opportunity to go to the TTC. I set things up a month or so ago, and had gotten my brain all set to get down there. I planned to get down there Friday evening, for a restful night before Saturday and Sunday’s training. Little did I know that I wouldn’t get to embark on this 10-11 hour adventure until around 5:30pm Friday night. All was well though as I was heading down there with a good friend, and as long as things didn’t go as they did on our Florida trip in January (Truck broke down in Nashville at 2am in a white castle parking lot) everything would be all hunky-dory. The Trip down was rather uneventful. I sat watching the miles tick away on my GPS, staring at the clock and thinking “am I really going to be getting there at 4:30am?” Sure enough we hit the exit off of I-24 around 4AM. What a relief. Chicago had destroyed some of our “killer time” that we would make on the trip, but alas, we arrived. Well I thought we arrived. The GPS said to go one way, and the TTC signs on the roads said to go another. I figured that the people who work there know best, so I’d follow their signage. I Followed the signs as I went down multiple winding roads. I got to the gravel road, continued on my path and finally saw some lights in the distance. I saw a few cars\campers\tents\cabins and felt like I was waking everyone up at 4:30am. I was told my cabin light would be on, sure enough it was, but so were a couple other cabins. A quick run around in the middle of the night, and we were home free.
I decided I’d wake up around 8 to go and check in with Catherine. I met a few people in the main front office before Catherine made it there to get things all going. I got to talking with Catherine, and after her realizing we pulled in so late, she immediately said that nights stay was free. I thought the trip was already a success since the truck made it down there, but then this….It couldn’t be beat. Well I shouldn’t say that. After more talking, we saw that she had in there that I was renting a bike for the weekend, there again things got better as that saved me another good chunk of change. Awesome I said. I immediately got back to the truck for the check book and an (un)healthy dosage of Red Bull and I was back in a jiffy to the cabin to get my gear on.
I tossed on my rather smelly pants, boots, helmet, and gloves. Gassed up the GasGas crossed my fingers that it’d start as trustily as it has all the times up at home and scooted myself on off down towards where all the others (all 3 other guys in the class) were waiting. Sure enough I pull up and feel like my bike would feel more at home in a dumpster next to those oh so beautiful 07\08 GasGas’s. It was probably a good feeling though, since I knew by not riding one, I wouldn’t end up going home with a $6K lighter wallet.
After a few moments of sitting around, we were greeted by Alex Bedley. An 18 year old whos trials skills, are..welll to say the least….mad skills. You would never guess by his demeanor that is as skilled as he is. A very calm, chill, individual who you can tell just has a blast on his bike. He gave us a quick rundown as to how things were gonna go for the next 2 days and again, we were off to our first practice destination.
I’m not exactly 100% on how things transpired exactly after this, but one of the first things I managed to do in a little warmup ride-around on the bikes, I decided to do a stoppy. (quick back story……Out of all the guys in the class, I was the only one who had any time on a trials bike, so while most were just getting a feeling for the bikes, I had already quite a bit of time on mine, and was used to messing around a bit on it) So amid this stoppy, I found myself getting a little too far ahead of things. I’m not sure if it was the lack of sleep, lack of proper amount of caffeine, or what, but my reaction time was much slower than normal. So instead of myself letting go of the front brake, leaning back and setting the bike down, I just jumped myself straight off. It wasn’t all that big of a thing, but kind of cracks me up now. Best part was that the bike landed perfectly upside down. Rear tire was buzzing away, but somehow (geez, not sure how), but the rear fender managed to crack itself. I was rather mad because I have dropped that thing countless times here, and of course the first time I drop it down in TN, the stupid thing cracks to bits. Luckily my trusty yellow Duct tape was up for the job and got me quickly back on the road (trail). So for that, please excuse the nappy looking yellow tail on the bike. Contact me if you want to help me get a pretty sparkling new one! 🙂
Back to the actual rundown of things though…..Alex started us off with a brief introduction of trials. This proved to be useful for Alex and the others in the group, as it helped them see some of the differences from what they were used to, and for Alex to kind of get an idea as to where everyone was at as far as riding and all that jazz. After this intro, we either had the ill-fated warmup or got down to doing some practicing through some cones. Sure enough despite having riden around tighter turns, faster and more often back at home; when I had someone 10000 times better than me watching ready to critique what I was doing wrong, my nerves got to me. Well it was either that, or again my lack of aforementioned sleep. After a few more runs up and down the cone run, I was getting back into a little groove. Alex really helped with pointing out a few things to me:
1. Throttle Control…………..NEEDS MUCH WORK!!!
2. Keep head to the outside of standard turns (I have been dipping in)
3. To get a little extra lean out of the bike, loosen up the last 3 fingers on the “far” hand. Gets me just that little bit of extra lean.
The Throttle control was very apparent immediately to me, and present throughout the entire weekend. It’s weird how even though I felt as though I had gotten my throttle control down quite well while road racing, that when you have rocks jolting you and the bike every which way, it makes precise throttle control even more important.
The rest of Saturday was pretty smoothe. I believe we messed around in the cones and a few other things before lunch time. I was starving and needed some food. After lunch was back out to the grind. We spent some more time on the cones, and did some off camber turn practice. The off camber turns was a huge place where throttle control is key. Keep it smoothe, keep it consistent. That went through my head about 100 times during each pass through a section. I felt that was a good thing, as it showed I was at least picking up a little bit what Alex was trying to get into all of our heads.
Continuing on Saturday was some more practice, and then some fun intro into getting over objects. Actually this may have been on Sunday, my brain isn’t quite that sure. Either way as the days went on things were progressively made more challenging, while still maintaining a constant emphasis on the basics. The basics, the basics, the basics. All the building block to ensuring that when things hit the fan, that you’ll still have that understanding of what to do. I know for sure on Sunday that we got to ride through some of the Saturday sections. That was a good time for me. What a challenge it is going through dried river beds. I love it! This single portion of the day made me realize that while the Intermediate was a little bit of a challenge before, that I need to be in the next class up.
After all was said and done on Sunday, Alex took us on a bit of a trail ride. This was more fun than imagined. I hadn’t gotten to go on such a long distance on the GasGas in……well forever. There was a lot of tighter stuff, and a lot of uphill\downhill fun. It was definitely a good review for the class earlier. We were taken to where they had some of the World Rounds back by a waterfall. Not much water flowing, but was very cool nonetheless. Alex had us park our bikes a little further away…..meanwhile he rode his way up to the sections as if it were a golden paved street he was riding. Was rad to see him again out having a blast on his bike.
After the trail trials trip, the class was pretty much done. After that I went out with Joe (previously mentioned friend who was with) to get some videos, pictures and to test out some of the more advanced lines on the different sections. This was another valuable lesson for me. I saw how quickly my energy was drained using improper technique on some of the advanced lines. They were a blast to work on navigating through. I’ll have to upload the video, cause while I would have gotten a jab or two on some of them, they were all around a complete blast.
The facilities at TTC were great, the people there was great, and it was something that, for the price just could not be beaten. I was surprised at how even though being youg, Alex handeled working with 4 differently aged guys at 4 different points in their riding lives with incredible skill (I’m laughing at this right now, cause I feel like I should be about 50 years old saying this and in reality am only a few years older than Alex). He was able to manage all of us very well, and was able to keep all of our attentions throughout the weekend all while teaching us plenty of skills that we can now hone.
I can’t speak highly enough of how well this weekend went (especially the fact that the truck made it all the way home!). I had a phenomenal time and while looking out the window right now, I would much rather be in TN right now if I had the choice. I’ve got a winter to prep myself and get ready for next season…….we’ll see you at the event!
PS Go to the images at: http://andrewgore.net/?page_id=56