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Old 03-27-2013, 06:46 PM   #74
What will break next
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Joined: Jun 2009
Location: Colonial Beach VA
Oddometer: 4,893
Del lead the “A” group back to the compound area. The first exercise we were going to do was off camber switchbacks. The track was a sweeping dirt trail that weaved around a few trees on a slight slope. It involved throttle, clutch and brake control as well as selecting the proper entry speed for the turns. Most of the loop we were moving at a whopping 5 mph.

(Photos of Intro Class by Kyle Johnson)

(also seen in the video Joints posted from about 7 – 14 second mark)
We had a couple people drop bikes as they negotiated the switchbacks and I was one of them. I stopped at the peak of one of the turns and was a bit too short to reach the ground…another tuck and roll.
After a dozen or so loops in one direction, they switched things up and we changed direction. The 2 guys from the "B" group who stayed in the Next Step class caught back up with us while we were working on these drills.

When everyone seemed to have that pretty well mastered, the coaches stepped it up a notch and had us start working on pivot turns. While going around the same loop in the downhill direction, we were to lock the rear tire and slide around the turn. Nothing fancy or high speed, just a way of changing direction a bit quicker.

From there, a quick trail ride took us around and over to a straight sloping downhill. The slope was grassy with a slight rut running down the right side with the left side slanting towards the rut. The exercise was simply to come down the hill in a controlled manner, mostly with threshold braking (applying the most brake possible without locking up the wheels).

I generally locked up the rear wheel almost everytime. I would just ski the rear end and brake as needed with the front. I didn’t intentionally lock the rear, but I didn’t sweat it either. I also would release the clutch a bit and attempt to use engine braking. There were a few times I stalled the bike while going down the hill, but I didn’t worry about that either. I had control of the bike and I would just restart at the bottom. This was where I learned one of the major take-aways for me from the class. I forget if it was Jason or Jeff who pointed this out to me, but you cannot use both the rear brake and engine braking at the same time on a loose surface. When you use engine braking and apply the rear brake, the amount a braking power you apply to the rear wheel from the brake pedal is magnified since you are already slowing it with engine compression. If the rear wheel locks while the clutch is released…the engine stalls. He told me to try the hill without using my rear brake at all.. just front brake and slipping the clutch for engine braking. Wow, the rear wheel didn’t lock up and slide, there was just enough drag from the engine braking to keep the bike tracking straight and I had much more control with the front brake. I asked him about the slide turns we had just finished in the previous exercise.. He reminded me that it wasn’t that I couldn’t use the rear brake, just that I shouldn’t use the two methods together. This one bit of knowledge was very important on later trail rides where the hills got steeper, looser and had some fairly sharp turns.

Feeling like I had actually leaned something, we headed back to the compound for lunch

EOD3MC screwed with this post 04-02-2013 at 03:59 PM Reason: added photos
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