Having survived Training Camp Day 1’s long uphill road spin to Kippure, and the self-made spaghetti bolognese upon landing there, to say nothing of the rogue frisbees, it was with well-rested heads, and slightly heavy legs that we greeted Tuesday morning in County Wicklow.
Our morning session began at 9am when the 4-car convoy made it’s way to Ballinastoe for a spot of mountain-biking. While this was but a short journey, over Sally Gap (eh, glad to be in the car, not on the bike), through some superb and sunny scenery, the trip was most significant for the sudden access it gave to phone reception (Kippure being a joyfully signal-free-zone)… chants of “I have two bars!” followed rapidly by “Now I have four!!” echoing from car to car.
Three of the troop of 18 Youth and Junior girls had brought their own mountain-bikes along to Training Camp, and for the others there was a bike-fitting session from the good men of Biking.ie who hired us mtbs for the morning.
With everyone fitted and kitted there was a group session conducted by Chie and Janos of Biking.ie. This started with a talk on the basic skills required, and concluded with a coached ride around a mini-loop on the lower slopes of the forest.
Perhaps the key phrase from this was the advice from Janos: …”Keep your head up, and your eyes and mind focused on where you want to go, not on where you are right now”…. words to take away with us, a lesson for life, not just for mountain-biking.
Once everyone had displayed mastery of the basics, the large group was divided in two, depending on previous ability, and then, with Chie and Janos leading a group each, it was time to hit the trails!
Once up into the higher sections of the extensive network of Ballinastoe’s purpose-built single-track, there were more coaching sessions from Chie and Janos. The eighteen eager Youth and Junior girls learned how to jump obstacles, to position themselves correctly to tackle tricky descents, and to adjust their gearing for the climby bits too.
Those who had never properly mountainbiked before were indistinguishable from the more experienced mtb-ers by the time we had all descended to picnic-lunch altitude. And Orla Conroy (Bray Wheelers), living but a bunny-hop away, looked ready to take over from Janos and Chie by the time she’d whizzed her way back down to sea-level!
After lunch we headed back to Kippure to start on dinner – turkey stir fry, for anyone curious- and then the second half of Training Camp Day 2 was a road racing session at Corkagh Park, which we have reported on separately.