the storm is coming in

So get your cuppa and settle down to some Damien Rice, because Brisbane has turned on a treat. The sky is alternating sheet grey and illuminated white. The thunder is – as the children say – making my pillow shake. Poor old Bonney has been stranded at the supermarket and we’re just going to wait it out.

You’d be forgiven for thinking that such weather would put the pause on mountain biking this morning. I wondered if it might not, since at 5am it was just as crazy. Lucky for some, there was a brief hiatus in the crazy weather and some riding was done.

I nervously made my way to Gap Creek, equipped with my fully pimped loaner bike and waited to test my theory that if learning when sad can make you happy, will learning while happy make you even happier. Fully pimped bike attracted some initial unwanted attention due to its extreme pimpness and extreme doesn’t seem to have been ridden before and certainly not ready by me-ness. But we recovered.

For the ADHD generation – short answer is – yes.

For those more patient and more seasoned, the longish answer is…

It’s interesting to learn something in a group. For those of us (me) who haven’t tried to learn something in a formal group setting in some years (i.e. since year 7 tennis camp), you may have forgotten what it is like to come to a strange place, in a strange outfit and say “can you please teach me not to fall off my bike?”

Arguably, it’s not as scary people like me imagine. Though I have to say, I was interested to observe a few moments of confusion and self-doubt as I wondered “would it be too hard”, “would there be other women”, “should I have really rated myself a 4 for bike handling” and such questions.

Thankfully, most questions were answered rather simply and with minimal fuss by Rowan from MTB Skills. I like Rowan’s style. I don’t know whereabouts he is from in the United Kingdom type area, but he has a very sweet accent, is a terrible dancer and has a low key, personable style that breaks down instructions into clear digestible segments while giving people time to practice techniques in light of their own skill base.

In only 2.5 hours, I’m sure it is not possible to really cover everything for everyone, however, for people like me (with approximately 9 hours of total MTB riding experience) it’s a lovely taster: getting into a good position on the bike, shifting weight back from the front wheel, not cornering like my mother’s Hyundai, working with the trail to maximise momentum – all of which were extremely helpful to me. My primary tactic is – follow Katherine – and if she doesn’t fall off, then it mustn’t be impossible.

In answer to one of my other questions, yes – there was another woman on the ride: Jess Douglas. Now, I may only have 9, sorry 11.5 hours of MTB behind me, but even I know that Jess is a big deal. She is an elite female mountain biker. No shit. She is also heading north to Cairns for a big race etc. So good luck to her for acclimatising to this intense humidity.

  Absolutely big thanks to Jess for sharing her time and her humour so liberally! I don’t think I’m doing the whole thing any justice, because mainly I am tired.I believe this could be a real downside of MTB, because it neither makes me witty nor provides good photos. I’m too tired to get funny and too busy having a good time riding to take pictures.

Oh and I’m sore. But just in one particular area.

I blame the bling.

By Eleanor Jackson

Eleanor Jackson is a Filipino Australian poet, performer, arts producer, cyclist, writer, gal about town, feminist, freewheeler, and friend.

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