Mountain Bike Skills Session with Sally

October 18th, 2013 by

Sally has previously been riding canal paths, wide tracks in the New Forest etc but has recently found the new Blue trail in Swinley Forest. Some of the trail features were proving a little tricky and thought a 1:1 lesson would be a good idea. We began the session with a quick briefing about Swinley Forest followed by talking about the bike set up and completing a safety check before setting off. To start with we went through the “control/ready for anything position” on the bike. Off the saddle, balanced over the centre of the bike letting it move around beneath us. Sally got to grip with this in no time and felt it made a huge difference to feeling in control riding along the trail. We then started moving our weight around the bike to introduce where her body position should be to gain the best traction from our tyres when we want to turn. Before climbing up part of the blue trail we went through how to change gears smoothly as well as the technique to use for getting to the top of climbs. As we rode to the next bit of trail Sally was starting to automatically get out of her saddle to smooth out the trail and have more flow. Moving on to cornering we started with a simple one just to get the basics correct. It took a few attempts to get her body position correct but Sally was soon looking confident leaning the bike over.

Sally - 1st try. Footwork good but more lean needed on bike

Sally – 1st try. Footwork good but more lean needed on bike

Sally - Better position on bike for cornering

Sally – Better position on bike for cornering

Moving on to the four corners gave Sally the opportunity to practice making the quick transition from a left hand corner to a right hand corner whilst controlling her speed. It also introduced the importance for looking down the trail and accentuating the lean of the bike to get it around tighter corners. Despite cornering really well on the flat corner earlier Sally struggled a bit with the tighter corners to begin with and started drifting back to her saddle. However with a few more tips about moving her hips and some more practice she was progressing.
Sally - Oops!

Sally – Oops!

Sally - huge improvement! Footwork & body position great :-)

Sally – huge improvement! Footwork & body position great 🙂

Although time was pressing on I was keen to coach Sally on a couple of other corners on the Blue trail which introduced bermed and tight “S” bend corners. We watched several riders come round one of the corners and saw that a lot of them were wasting loads of energy pedalling all the way round rather than gliding round smoothly. When the trail was clear Sally used her new knowledge to enable her to flow round the corner and save energy which she felt made a big difference. To finish off the session we went and did a bit

of coaching on a tight “S” bend. At this corner if you get the correct speed, body position, footwork & looking you can keep the flow and momentum all the way round with only one pedal stroke. Sally worked well on this corner but initially went back to a few old habits. However after a few more attempts she was getting there.

Sally tackling the "S" Bend

Sally tackling the “S” Bend

As we headed back to the Look Out I could really see how Sally’s riding had progressed over the morning. She looked confident and flowed through the trails better. Keep practicing and hope to see you out on the trails soon Sarah :-)