SkiBike Tour 2011-12 - Progress

Posted: Friday, 3 February 2012 by Mark Kinnon in Labels: , , ,

Carl and I finished our week revisiting a few runs that had seemed so daunting just 6 days ago. We no longer crash out on difficult turns and are becoming ever more boisterously confident, maybe it is time to take a break before we really hurt ourselves.
At approximately 4pm today my objectives for the week were achieved and exceeded.
I could ride a variety of different grades of pistes in varying conditions with confidence equal or greater than my former skibobber hybrid technique. I could maintain a constant speed through carving and reduce speed through skidding.
When I skidded too much I found myself counter steering to avoid spilling out. My feet remained firmly planted on the pegs constantly.
I could feel the movement of the rear ski through the frame and make angle adjustments through varying foot pressure.
Off piste, I raised up into an enduro stance and was able to absorb bumps and make whip like rear ski steering changes. My carves were so deep that the sides of my boots were scraping snow, there were no more superman ejections just a few spills where I failed to see a change of gradient lurking in the late afternoon shadows.

Carl preferred a different style that better suited his American influenced style of skibike, softer conditions and off piste excursions. He managed to translate this technique onto some nasty hard packed gradients that had skiers in a tumble and snowboarders on their rumps.
He rode standing up almost constantly and had perfected an annoying trick hockey stop that sprayed you in snow from head to foot. He was making the sort of video material that had taken him in this direction in the first place.

My equipment is failing me, my Fox rear air shock died this morning and I rode for most of the day as a "hard tail". The carabiner on my rear ski anti-dive link became too bent too hold on. The left lens on my prescription sunglasses popped out. My vintage Marin saddle is split and torn everywhere. Oddly the one item that has remained sturdy is a pair of Tesco's finest winter activity gloves purchased for £6 a few days before departure.

We discussed some thoughts for those who may decide to see whether skibiking is their route to nirvana too.

Skibiking is a vigorous and active sport and freestyle / pegging is not for softies!
Wear knee and wrist braces by default, consider a back brace too if you have a weak back.
Always wear a helmet.
Anticipate that you will probably fall off a lot at first. Be relaxed and let it happen, pick softer snow or off piste to practice on, blue runs are ideal.
Skibikes accelerate quickly down the fall line very quickly, watch your speed at all times and take it easy till you have the ability to control your speed.
Snowboarding clothes are the most practical, warm and comfortable option and suit the skibiker attitude, leave your catsuit at home or for your next FISB World Cup skibob race.
Check the tightness of fixtures on the skibike on a daily basis, metals contract in cold temperatures and parts work loose.
Carry a multi-tool such as a "Leatherman" about your person for on-piste tweaks.
In the absence of an accredited teaching programme for freestyle / pegger skibiking find a mentor to guide you as a novice, regarding the safe use of lift systems and skibiking technique.
Be polite and follow the skiers code, you will be an ambassador for this niche sport whether or not you want to.