Lake Placid's Mountain Bike Clinic at Mount Van Hovenberg - Page 3

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On the surface, blind cycling may seem counter-intuitive to the safety that is the cornerstone of Joe's philosophy. But the brief exercise (which, for the record, was safe—you could always open your eyes if nerves got the better of you) highlighted the overall goal of the clinic: Learn to listen to the environment and flow through it—don't fight it. That understanding, coupled with the right techniques—riding fluidly, shifting properly, reading the terrain, and adopting a responsive position on the bike—makes for successful riding. And Joe's easy demeanor and measured patience, a product of years spent as a school principal, make it easy to get to the point where you're cycling with confidence.

His teaching ability was most evident in the way Dotti and Kim rode after lunch. After a quick meal of ham sandwiches and energy drinks, we returned to the downhill slalom course, then tore through a few sections of cross-country doubletrack before pedaling up and into the Kinda, a tight section of righteous singletrack. Dotti and Kim took to it with gusto, angling around tight curves, over logs, across rocks. We looped back and hit it three times, and then followed Joe to another section of singletrack recently carved between the trees lining the cross-country terrain. This new trail would get pounded into hard-packed dirt during September's 24-hour mountain bike race, but that day it was a loose and springy stretch of pine mulch, and Dotti and Kim pedaled through like veterans, navigating the terrain, hooting and hollering with childlike joy.

By the end of the day, as we made our slow return to High Peaks HQ, the oft-quoted phrase, "Just like riding a bicycle," kept echoing in my head. In retrospect, it has never seemed more appropriate. In just two days, for Dotti and Kim, Joe had made mountain biking just that easy.

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