Stag on the loose!!

June 15th, 2013 by

  For a more civilised Stag Do, Paddy, the Best Man decided it would be fun to sign everyone up for a mountain bike skills session. As the group got out of the mini bus it wasn’t difficult to spot Mark “the Stag” as they had kindly dressed him up as Luke Skywalker, Hoth Pilot, from the Empire Strikes Back. P1120230 We covered the basic safety checks and briefing before heading out to the trails. P1120129We spent a short while just focusing on the control position, braking and bike set-up; adjusting the brake levers to enable easier reach. We discussed the idea of the platform for your feet, and how you adjust this as the terrain become steeper, while still focusing on the “under rotation” P1120132     Basic cornering followed the braking exercises; changes to the body position, “dropping your outside foot”, and the use of the hips. To get everyone focused on footwork we practiced balancing on one leg…….doesn’t look silly at all!! 😉 P1120138 Following this they all tried this when cornering around

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a simple bend.     After this we headed into the single track to

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try the four corners, and linking the corners together.   P1120162P1120160             We then headed over to “Stickler” to sample the challenges of the bermed corners on “Stickler”. Here we focused on the body position and bike position, and how it can affect the line around the berm. As well as working hard to get the looking through the corner towards the exit. P1120181 After working hard on cornering it was time for a few games to train you to be more stable on the bike. All the group were up for the slow bike challenge. We marked out a large coned circle and the aim of the game is to all ride around the area without putting your foot down or running into each other. P1120188 P1120182 To challenge their balancing skills further we kept reducing the area. The “Stag” was definitely being picked on to get him out the game!P1120190 P1120197               P1120201P1120200               The track stand challenge. As we headed back towards the centre, we did a bit of limbo on the bike.P1120205P1120209Final debrief at the car park and it was time to head for us to head home and the group to head to the pub. It was a pleasure doing the coaching session and great fun. Enjoy the Wedding. P1120203

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Skills Session with Ernie

May 23rd, 2013 by

  Ernie booked up a 1:1 skills session as he was off mountain biking in the Quantocks and Peak District. He has been riding for a few years but as he admits he will give anything a go but sometimes the outcome of tearing down a trail are not always favourable. A little reminder of the basic techniques would be

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good. With my brief done and a bike safety check we headed out. First thing which was noticeable when covering the “ready for anything” stance was Ernie’s brake levers. He was finding it tricky to reach the levers with his wrists dropped so a quick adjustment made it much easier to ride in this position. On our way to the flat corner I got Ernie to start manoeuvring the bike and trying to be a bit more relaxed in his arms and shoulders. Another bad habit that I was

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going to work on was to get him to get off his saddle more, especially when things get technical. Ernie rode the flat corners well and looked comfortable leaning the bike over so we proceeded to the four corners to work on the quick transition from left to right hand corners. P1120052 First thing that happened when Ernie rode these corners was he reverted back to sitting on top of the saddle. Trying to corner when sat on the saddle is difficult as you cannot shift your body weight to the right position to gain the best traction and it is more difficult to ease the bike round the corner. Sat on top of the saddle may get you round some corners but when the corners get tighter and you ride with more speed you can end up having to brake in the corner and therefore losing speed and flow. We worked on these corners for a while to get more fluidity and smoothness into Ernie’s riding before moving on. P1120056P1120065 Continuing on the cornering theme we worked on a couple of switchback turns to encourage getting off the saddle even more and looking round the corner. Ernie’s riding was definitely improving as he was starting to have the confidence to move away from the saddle. P1120066P1120074 Before the session ended we talked about the most efficient way to climb steep hills and how you should move your bodyweight to get the best grip. P1120081 Lastly we worked on some larger banked corners and how to absorb and smoothly ride some of the lumps in the trail. Over the coaching session Ernie was riding more in control and his cornering was getting much better. He was getting off the saddle more but needed to go and practice all the techniques covered to get them into the “good habits” of his riding. Enjoyable afternoon. Have fun in the Quantocks! 😀

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Juliet’s 1:1 Mountain Bike Skills Coaching

May 23rd, 2013 by

Juliet has been a member of a local mountain bike club for a few years but unfortunately a knee injury has kept her off her bike. The last few weeks she has been back on her bike to try to improve her fitness and get her bike balance back. On a recent ride she had difficulty cycling a tight bend on a steep slope so decided to book a lesson to go back to basics and work on improving switchbacks/cornering and particularly working on the corkscrew trail. I met Juliet over at the corkscrew and after a quick bike check got straight into the coaching session. After a refresher on the correct body position for mountain biking we focused on cornering. First we warmed up and practiced dropping the outside leg going round a coned course and encouraged leaning the bike to make the turns. P1110918 Juliet was confident with this so the next step was a a couple of flat corners. We also did a slow manoever exercise to work on balance and turning in a tight spot which is good to practice. P1110936 Next we split the Corkscrew trail into sections and walked and talked about the technique to use to ride the trail with momentum and flow. To begin with Juliet was a little tight on her bike which

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affected her smoothness and flow round the trail but after a few more coaching points and encouragement she began to ride with more ease. P1110976On one of the sections there is a prominent root which can catch you out so we did a

bit of work on un-weighting the front of the bike to be able to cope with such things on a trail. P1110989         As the session continued Juliet was looking more relaxed and confident which made her riding flow better. We then headed to work on a few larger bermed corners on the Seagull Run. Juliet was moving her bike around better and therefore cornering with more confidence and commitment. P1120027P1120019 Hope to see you out on the tails soon 😀

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1-1 Mountain Bike Skills Morning with Lucia

May 23rd, 2013 by

This session was with Lucia who was lucky enough to win a skills session through her local mountain bike club’s Christmas Raffle. In our session Lucia wanted to cover the basic and necessary skills to build her confidence for off road riding. After a quick chat about Swinley Forest we then completed a safety check on our bikes before setting off. Firstly we covered the ideal body position to adopt when riding off road. To begin with Lucia had very straight rigid arms. We adjusted her handlebar grips and brake levers so she could drop her wrists into a better riding position which made her relax and bend her elbows. Lucia doing Braking Exercise Moving on to cornering we started with a simple coned slalom course to get used to moving our body around on the bike. Lucia was confidently riding this so we rode two basic corners to put the technique learnt on the coned course into practice. Lucia found she felt far more comfortable cornering to the left than the right and I could see she was confident leaning the bike out on the left corner than the right.   We then rode part of the Blue Trail to the four corners so Lucia could practice making the quick transition from a left hand corner to a right hand corner whilst controlling speed. Lucia worked well through the corners and could feel straight away if she put the wrong leg down. She was starting to be flowing through the trail much better. P1110873P1110890 Lucia had a technical corner on part of the Blue Trail that she has had trouble riding so we headed there next. With all the coaching tips she had gained over the morning she rode it with more confidence and commitment which was great to see. P1110893P1110900 We continued on the Blue back to the Look Out. I followed Lucia on the final part to see if her riding had

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improved and I am happy to say she was using the body position well, looking more confident and was noticeably quicker and flowing round the corners. Great morning.

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Happy riding 🙂  

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Ladies Beginners Skills Course 13th April 2013

April 30th, 2013 by

After a few weeks of poor weather it looked like the Ladies Beginners Mountain bike course was going to be rain free! Fingers crossed! Holly had been given a gift voucher and although had ridden off-road several times before was keen to learn the proper technique to off-road riding. Liz is fairly new to mountain biking and was looking forward to learning the skills necessary to have fun riding off-road. After a safety check on our bikes making sure they were in good working order and making a few adjustments to brake levers so they were easy to reach we headed out. Firstly I followed them riding the Green trail just so I could see how they got on before we headed into the forest. First thing we covered was braking and the best way to brake efficiently and in control. We did a little exercise with braking to show how important it was to have your body weight in the right place when braking. Holly and Liz could feel straight away that knowing a few basic skills made them feel

more confident on a bike, especially when braking. 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 P1110707 that you may encounter on the trails. It took a few minutes for them to really feel at ease in the “ready for anything” stance as they had been used to sitting on the saddle when riding. Before long they were both looking more flexible and relaxed and I could see their confidence growing. P1110704     Next we moved on to cornering. Firstly I got them all to ride a coned slalom course so I could see how they rode before giving them tips to make cornering much smoother and easier. It took a little time to get them both confident getting away from their saddles and leaning the bike away from them. P1110719P1110724             They both worked hard on this technique around the cones so we then introduced a couple of sweeping corners. Here we could work further on the technique of speed control, footwork, body position and looking. Both Holly and Liz were looking far more confident manoeuvring their bikes around and started flowing smoothly round the corners. P1110750 P1110731 P1110747P1110761 P1110771P1110737 Next we covered gear changing and the basic technique to climbing with a smooth pedal stroke. Both ladies used their gears effectively to make it to the top of the climb with ease. With a quick breather we talked about descending and the body position which should be adopted to feel confident going downhill. With lots of enthusiasm to learn more we headed to another area of the forest and introduced linked cornering. The section we used had a series

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of bermed corners on a gravity assisted piece of trail so body position, speed control and looking were all crucial. At first the ladies struggled a bit with getting their looking and footwork right as the trail took them a little out

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of their comfort zone. However, after a few tips and attempts their confidence grew and they started cornering with more flow. P1110802 P1110786   To end the session we rode a small section of the Blue trail to see the improvements in their riding from the mornings Green run. Straight away it was obvious that they were both more confident. Automatically getting in the “ready for anything” position as they tackled the trail. They both flowed through the trail with good speed and eased around the corners. A very enjoyable morning and for me as a coach it’s lovely to see the confidence grow in all of the riders as the session progressed. Hope to see you out on the trails soon. Have fun 😀

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Mountain Bike Skills Session – Rachael

April 10th, 2013 by

Spring was definitely not on its way for this mornings tuition!! Instead, a lot of cold showers, however it didn’t put Rachael off turning up for her booked mountain bike skills session. Rachael had been on a mountain bike holiday to Sardinia which was great. It was a little more extreme than she was expecting so decided to book a coaching session with me to get back to basics and build her confidence to be able to tackle more difficult terrain in the future. We began the session with a quick briefing about SwinleyForest followed by talking about the bike set up and completing a safety check before setting off. We had a bit of a warm up cycle to start with as it was so cold and wet before we stopped to go through the ideal body position which is best adopted when riding off road trails. Rachael grasped this well so we moved on to gear changing. Sounds simple but it is so easy to be in the wrong gear at crucial times. We rode a slight incline working on our pedal stroke and changing gears at the right time to keep the traction going through the tyres and keeping it nice and smooth. Rachaels’ poor hands were freezing so she found it a little tricky manoevering the gear lever. Before reaching our introductory corners we went through how to use your brakes safely and confidently. We then started moving our weight around the bike to introduce where our body position should be to gain the best

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traction from our tyres. With Rachael having skied before she had no trouble understanding where she needed to shift her weight. Riding the corners several times started to build her confidence which was great so we headed onto Stickler 3 to work on linking some corners together.

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Rachael was keen to work on some switch back corners so we used some tighter bermed corners which challenged the whole cornering technique ie: speed control/looking/footwork/body position. After working on the swithback a few times we carried on and rode more singletrack to put all the basic skills learnt into practice. It was a very cold and wet morning but Rachael was starting to flow down the trails looking more confident. Hope to see you out on the trails 🙂

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1-1 Mountain Bike Coaching – Elaine

April 10th, 2013 by


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is a lover of the great outdoors. She runs, cycles, does adventure races and triathlons. With an injury keeping her from running she was out on her mountain bike more and decided she wanted to learn the necessary skills to build her confidence for off road riding. We began the session with a quick briefing about SwinleyForest followed by talking about the bike set up and completing a safety check before setting off. Firstly we briefly covered how to change gears smoothly whilst using an efficient pedalling technique for going up hills off road efficiently. At the top of the climb it was time to explain the ideal body position to adopt when riding off road. Elaine picked this up really quickly which was great as this meant we could move on to the core skills to cornering. On the way to the introductory corners we went through how to use your brakes safely and confidently and adjusted Elaine’s brake levers so they are easier to reach when in the control position. 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. Moving on to cornering we started with a simple one just to

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get the basics correct. To begin with Elaine stayed fairly straight on her bike with not much movement. However, after a few tips she started to lean the bike and shift her bodyweight around which was great. P1110200P1110208               Moving on to the four corners it gave Elaine the opportunity to

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practice making the quick transition from a left hand corner to a right hand corner whilst controlling speed. We also looked at line choices and visual irritations on a trail that may affect your confidence and commitment and spoke about how best to tackle them. P1110216 P1110222               Elaine worked well through the corners and looked more confident moving away from the saddle and leaning the bike over as the trail tightened so she could get the best grip. With her confidence growing we moved onto Stickler to work on linking some corners and using tighter bermed corners to challenge her “looking” and “footwork”technique.   P1110231P1110230 Another aspect of off road riding Elaine wanted to learn was to get over obstacles such as roots/logs/step ups on the trails so we spent a bit of time running through the technique for this. With time running short we headed to Seagull and covered the “cone of movement” going over a mound in the trail and followed the trail to the green gate before heading back to the Look Out. See you on the trails soon.

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Forest Rider – 15th September 2012

October 19th, 2012 by

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,

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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

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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

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 🙂

1 Comment

Ladies Beginners Course 1st September 2012

September 26th, 2012 by

A slightly overcast morning in SwinleyForest for the Ladies Beginners Course but the sun did make an appearance! Catherine had ridden at Swinley before but is fairly new to mountain biking. She wanted to learn the basics to enable her to go mountain biking with her husband. Louise and her daughter Tasmin where new to Swinley and mountain biking and wanted to learn how to ride safely off road. After a safety check on our bikes making sure they were in good working order and making a few adjustments to brake levers so they were easy to reach we cycled 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 we rode a small climb using our gears as we went. All of the ladies used their gears effectively to make it to the top of the climb. They all found that gear changing and a smooth pedal action

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is a good thing to master to make hills easier. (more…)

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Midweek coaching with Polly

September 7th, 2012 by

Polly booked up a 1-1 mountain bike skills session keen to learn all the techniques for safe off road riding. After a bike and equipment check where we discussed bike set up ie: seat height, brake levers, tyre pressures we headed off to the trails. The first fundamental skill we covered was the ideal “body position” for biking off road. Being up out of the saddle helps manage the lumps and bumps that are on the trails. Polly adopted this well and could feel an improvement straight away. Polly was quickly moving confidently around on her bike so we then covered braking. After spending a few minutes practicing she could really feel the benefits of dropping the wrists which makes braking more efficient and safe. From here we moved on to cornering. Starting with a simple flat wide corner it enabled me to slightly adjust her cornering technique before moving onto some linked corners. Before Polly rode the corners we discussed the rooty entrance section and how best to tackle such trail features. Polly rode this section several times and at first looked tense in her upper body and she was also dipping her shoulder into the corner. With this feedback and some coaching points she was soon relaxing her shoulders, moving her

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bodyweight to gain the most grip and was riding far more smoothly. With her confidence increasing with every go we headed

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across the forest to Stickler 3 where we used a switchback corner to work on her “looking” and challenge her cornering technique further. On her first attempt she froze and popped out the top of the corner. However it didn’t take Polly long to use the building blocks already learnt to start nailing the corner. She really started moving her bodyweight around the bike to maintain grip. Her transitions between the corners became smooth and flowing and her confidence at a high. With time pushing on we worked on how to get the front wheel over trail obstacles with ease. Polly sussed this

technique very quickly and was enjoying popping her wheel over the various sized trunks laid out on the trail. We also covered the technique for lifting the back wheel over obstacles to finish off the session. It was great to meet you and I had a great morning. Have fun practicing the techniques you picked up today and may see you out on the trails soon Sarah 🙂

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