Yesterday's weather was beyond perfect for a day to ride Carolina North Forest. And for the TYMBR
Wolves it was exactly what they needed to experience their first day on the trails.
With a race coming up March 20 you might say "Just hitting the trails, this late in the season?" My answer to you would be "yeah, just hitting the
trails". Head Coach Itza and I came to the conclusion to heavily focus on the fundamentals off trail before heading out.
Especially since there were early reports of youth being injured on trails while practicing. And we wanted none of that experience for our team. Before heading out Sunday we watched a video demonstrating "sight lines"; the technique of looking ahead to see the next obstacle before
you reach it.
Not to have a horrible experience
It was not our intention to have any 'first experience' on the trail being a
horrible experience to be recovered from. It's terrifying enough riding slalom through the woods avoiding rocks, roots, and drops for the first time. Add a seriously painful and possibly bloody fall to the mix and you may have another month of coaching the skittishness out of the cyclist.
After a few open field drills at MLK Park we followed Coach Lynn into the forest. The team was ecstatic to finally be in the woods! Riding the gravel fire road down to the bridge kicked up as much happy chatter as it did dust. We climbed the Duke Energy Corridor road to get to the top and the start of the dual slalom trails of the Occoneechee Loop. The ride down was exhilarating. There was enough technical obstacles to keep the team keenly focused on what lay ahead - sight lines.
Midway through the first loop we stopped to do 30 seconds of deep breathing exercises. The fear was high and the anxiety long. There was talk about not wanting to ride the loop again. We took the trail back to the top to start over.
"On the question of what was learned, it was nicely stated that you can overcome fear. "
Taking breaks after each small loop to catch breaths and take assessments. As expected, there were a few falls. But after each one, the reason for the fall could be explained by the person falling. The next time they would apply what they learned. The youth rode a combination of the Number 5 Loop, Occoneechee Loop, and Lowlands Loop five times before it was time to call it a day as parents were waiting to pick them up.
At the closing circle, during the final assessment, the team gave personal reports on their experience. Words like fun, exciting, confident were expressed. On the question of what was learned, it was nicely stated that you can overcome fear. No longer did any of them have a fear of the trail.