Want the inside scoop on our Christchurch Bike Skills weekend? Big thanks to debut Mission WOWer Georgie for her witty words and upfront account of the course and to Mark Bridgwater Photography for capturing what it’s all about.
Thanks for your support Christchurch, we’ll be back in spring for more. Email us here if you’re keen to be kept in the loop.
Winter backcountry courses are up and running- check them out here
Words: Georgie McNamara
Photos: Mark Bridgwater
I first heard about Jo Guest and the Mission WOW ethos riding the chairlift in Austria this year during a particularly high avalanche danger season. Conversations were being had about the necessity of recapping on the fundamentals of being in the back country. The Mission WOW avalanche course was tucked away as a must do during the coming NZ winter. So, back in NZ when I heard through my gal pal, Georgie Allen from Smith, that Jo was running a mountain biking skills course for chicks I thought – cool, why not? I had been getting into riding lately and had intentions to pursue it, and while I had no idea of what the course was all about the opportunity seemed timely so I signed up and headed along.
The day started at The Cup Cafe over looking the city on a typical crisp autumnal Christchurch morning. Welcomes and flat whites flowed and so did some super cool giveaways from Smith Optics and Mons Royale. After a quick de brief on the format and expectations of the day ahead, we headed up to Victoria Park to get into it. From the outset the energy and enthusiasm of the coaches was evident and this quickly rubbed off onto the apprehensive faces of the group. It was clear their goal was for us to have as much fun as possible while providing an environment of freedom to ask questions and individually dictate what we wanted to take away from the day; whether it be that ‘sh*t yes, nailed it!’ moment when conquering something for the first time or simply gaining a little bit more confidence. The day wasn’t competitive or stressful but full of laughs and banter. There was an expectation to push your own boundaries, but no pressure to go beyond those if you weren’t comfortable doing so – this is fundamental when learning new skills or picking up a new activity as it can be the difference between deciding you love it or hate it. The groups were broken down into 6-10, big enough for just the right amount of 1:1 attention and fostering group morale. The activities focused on skills such as braking, bike / body separation when making tight and technical turns, and most importantly body position on the bike. Techniques in all of these areas have been drilled in to my head and when ever I am on my bike I can hear Kate McDougall in my ear, “bend your elbows more, lower over your handle bars, heels to the ground!” We had fun on the uphill, downhill, pump track, berms, tight trails and in the forest and open areas too.
The rewards of mountain biking such as confidence, progression and the endorphin release go beyond the physical. For me, I connected to my “third eye” on my bike, as I have on my yoga mat. I also loved discovering the similar feelings to skiing such as going fast and pumping your body into turns. It’s when you start generating feelings outside in nature that make you feel good; when find yourself so far removed from the demands and stresses of the 9-5, that an activity becomes addictive and you realise you’ll probably find yourself doing it with your kids. This is something Jo and the crew have given me. I would be no means say I am a “good” mountain biker yet, but with Mission WOW that’s beside the point. If you are keen to get out there and do it again and mountain biking has got you stoked, then you have been successful.
I would highly recommend the bike skills course what ever level you’re at. I doesn’t matter if you’re a slightly nervous new timer or that girl that goes hard and keeps up with the boys, there is something new to be gained whether it be slightly tweaking and perfecting a skill you thought you had down or attempting something new you’d been scared to try for years, and everything in between. Mission WOW creates an environment where not giving it a go doesn’t really seem like an option as there is nothing to lose expect for maybe a bit of skin.