While we all learned to ride bikes as a kid, the technical side of mountain biking requires a little more knowledge than managing a straight line down the driveway. Although we are capable of riding down trails without any special instruction, we were hoping some professional instruction would make us better riders, which means safer riders.
Now that the Red Bull X-Alps is over, I'm not longer so paranoid about other sports and getting injured. It's a relief, actually.
So over two mornings on the trails around Moab, we got some help from Sylvi Fae of Moab Mountain Bike Instruction. We soon realized that there was a lot we didn't know and hadn't thought about, which was actually great! That meant we could improve rapidly, and I think we did get a lot better even in a couple of hours.
Sylvi taught us a lot about weight shift, using our body to help turn the bikes into tight corners. Keeping our weight low on the bikes makes it easier to shift weight between the front and rear tires, allowing us to bump up and over bigger rocks than we had believed. I felt I looked a little funny sticking out my elbows like a chicken wing, but I soon realized that my riding improved with that stance, and I no longer felt so unbalanced going downhill.
By the middle of the first morning, I was bunny hopping over some small rocks, which made me very happy. Even with flat pedals, I now knew how to lift the front tire, then the rear tire. Putting those moves together will take more practice but it's only a matter of time.
Of course, mostly what we learned is that we have a long ways to go, which is the fun part. Practicing around Moab
Taped to my handlebars now will be the words "Look UP" "Elbows Out" and "Stay Loose".