We should all be open to a little learning from time to time!

When my partner in all things backcountry and adrenaline threw down the idea of some Enduro schooling in Naramata, I thought “Why Not”!? It’s not like my decade-long Smash & Crash / Youtube trial-and-error approach to hurdling myself through the bush as fast as I can has been flawless 😉

Enter Chris Birch. (Picture light shining down from above on all the little dirt bikers!)

For those of you who haven’t heard of Chris, well, he’s done a thing or two on a dirt bike over the years. Red Bull Romaniacs? Been there, crushed it. Erzberg? Yup, did that one too. Dakar? Sure, he’s done it! I think you get my point. This man knows bikes, and we decided that a day with him could do nothing but good things for us in the bush.

So, show up and smash the gas. Right?!?

Not quite. While we did spend the bulk of the day riding and practicing new techniques, Chris spent the first half of the morning reviewing proper riding position. He did a walkthrough on how to set the bikes up to ensure we get into the desired position and can still maintain control, and what to do to dial in our steeds to make them and us more effective as a team.

We’ve been riding for a long time. What’s there to learn?

To say that this day was humbling would be pretty accurate. From turns at variable speeds, both sitting and standing, to wheelies, log crossings and hill climbs, we covered a ton of terrain. What I learned from each mini-session is that I have been brute forcing my way around in the bush for a long time. My position on the bike was often off by a long shot, and a little less throttle and a lot more planning when it comes to body position and weight distribution will go a long, long way!

Would I do it again and would I recommend this clinic?

I can’t wait for next year. When I left for home, I fired a pile of notes into a Voice Memo on my phone for safe keeping. Changing the way someone has done things for a long time doesn’t happen overnight. We have a year to practice, and look forward to what we will pick up in the next clinic.

I think the best part of how Chris conducts his clinic has to be his demeanor. Very positive, even when you’re bouncing your ass off the seat mid hill climb because your feet flew off the pegs. (This guy I know…) He’ll pull you aside, point out how you can tweak what you are doing, then give you a big fist pump when you nail it on the next round. This guy makes you want to learn what he is throwing down. His passion for the sport is infectious, and it definitely rubs off on all that are around him.

If you are interested in checking him out, and possibly joining him for a day of riding, have a look at his website. It will be time well spent!

~ Andrew Thompson, Vernon Dirt Chimp & Contributing Author