A lovely morning in Swinley Forest for the Forest Rider Course with Steve and Ben. Ben had taken up mountain biking 6 months ago having not been on a bike for 15 years. He had never been taught and wanted to learn the basics to become more confident. Steve didn’t learn to ride a bike till later on in life and had just started venturing off road and wanted to know the techniques of off road riding to become more assured riding the trails. After a safety check on our bikes and making a few adjustments to brake levers so the wrists could be dropped when in the “control” position we rode out into Swinley Forest along one of the fire tracks. Firstly we covered gear changing and the basic technique to climbing. After a few minutes playing with gear changing and pedal stroke ie: spinning cranks in a circle rather than a square,
we rode a small climb. They both found that gear changing and a smooth pedal action gave a real benefit to mastering climbs. After this we covered the most fundamental skill to off road riding……..the body position. Sometimes its referred to as the “attack” position”, I prefer “ready for anything/control” position which does what it says………you are in control and ready for anything that you may encounter on the trails. Ben picked this up quickly and looked more flexible and relaxed on his bike. Steve initially found it difficult to feel comfortable standing on the pedals, out of the saddle as he was use to sitting down
most of the time. However with practice his confidence grew. Following on from this we did a little exercise with braking to show how important it was to have your body weight in the right place when braking. With the brake lever adjustments already made both Ben and Steve were quite surprised that knowing a few basic skills made them feel more confident. Next we moved on to basic cornering. This highlighted the issue that both Ben and Steve were staying in contact with their saddles for most of the cornering, which was restricting their cone of movement. We spent time focusing on getting the outside foot down and moving bodyweight to increase the grip and control throughout the corner. Steve did find this a bit unnatural and challenging but had progressed by the end of this session. Ben felt confident leaning the
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bike over and was cornering smoothly in control. Moving on and to put the skills learnt into to practice on a basic bit of Singletrack we headed to the Seagull Run. We stopped at the drainage dip along the trail to practice being in the “control” position when such
trail features appear, and how to ride them with confidence and control. The first few attempts they were quite tight in the shoulders but soon started relaxing which made a smoother transition. Both gents said the biggest learning points for them was body position and brake adjustments. A very enjoyable morning. Hope to see you out on the trails soon. Have fun 🙂