1:1 Session with Dan before his trip to the Alps

July 30th, 2012 by

Dan has ridden at Swinley a number of times before, so knew a few of the trails. He’s going to the Alps soon so wanted to just get a few pointers on his skills before hitting the mountains. We covered the basic safety checks and briefing before heading out to the trails. We spent a short while just focusing on the control position, braking and bike set-up; adjusting the

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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” Basic cornering followed the braking exercises; here we corrected a few habits that Dan had picked up, with straightening the leg out and pushing the body back over the back of the bike.

Missing the hip shift, so unbalanced.


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All Day Session with Rob

July 30th, 2012 by

Rob rides regularly in the local race scene, including the Gorricks and Southern XC Series. He’s been finding that while he has the fitness to keep up on the fire roads and straighter parts of single-track, when things get technical, the other riders were pulling away from him.

As always we covered the basic safety checks and briefing before heading out to the trails.  We spent a short while just focusing on the control position, braking and bike set-up; adjusting the brake levers to enable easier reach.

Basic cornering highlighted the issue that Rob was staying in contact with his saddle, for most of the cornering, which was restricting his cone of movement.  We spent a bit of time focusing on getting the balanced position for the corner, as well as using the hips and heels to increase the corner grip and control.


After linking the four corners together, we then focused on line choice, through the corners, and how you can broaden out the corners and use the berms to your advantage, and not have to brake so much through the corners, allowing you to flow smoother throughout the trail. (more…)

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Mountain Bike Skills Session with Jo 23/6/2012

June 25th, 2012 by

Jo, a local mountain biker booked up a 1-1 mountain bike skills session as she had never been taught to ride off road before and was keen to learn all the techniques. As she was riding into the forest from Crowthorne we met on one of the trails. Firstly we went through a bike and equipment check. We discussed bike set up ie: seat height, brake levers, tyre pressures and after a couple of adjustments we were ready to go. Riding behind Jo along the Seagull run to start with gave me an idea of her riding level, technique and confidence. We then covered one of the first basic skills of mountain biking which is the ideal “body position”. Being up out of the saddle helps manage the lumps and bumps that are on the trails. Jo adopted this well and with the new position of her brake levers could feel an improvement already. Jo 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. 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 we could tackle them Jo had a slight mechanical where she couldn’t unclip one of her shoes because the SPD had come lose and one of the screws had fallen out. With some pulling and tugging we eventually released it, put in an old screw that I carry in my tool kit and it was good as new. (Top tip – carry old spare SPD screws, you never know when you may need them) Before Jo rode the corners we discussed the rooty entrance section and how best to tackle such trail features. Jo rode this section several times and with some coaching points she was soon relaxing her shoulders, moving her bodyweight to gain the most grip and was riding far more smoothly. (more…)

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Matt conquers the berms

June 6th, 2012 by

Diamond Jubilee weekend saw Matt come to Swinley. He’d ridden here a few times before, and felt it was time to try and get a bit more flow and control through the corners. We covered the basic safety checks and briefing before heading out to the trails. (more…)

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2nd June 2012, What a great day!

June 4th, 2012 by

Today I had the pleasure of coaching two families who are off on a mountain bike holiday together in the Summer. In the morning I was coaching Liam, Henry, Lizzie, Dave and Will who have already had a few lessons. After lunch it was Kevin, Janet, Michael and David’s turn to experience proper off road mountain biking for the first time. LIAM’S CROWD The beginning of the morning was a refresher of the core fundamentals of mountain biking, ie: body position, footwork, looking. It was great to see

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that they were oozing with confidence. The children were showing Dad how to relax on the bike! (more…)


Singletrack Rider Course 17th May 2012

May 29th, 2012 by

The weather was looking overcast but ok for a days coaching in Swinley Forest on our Singletrack Rider course. The group consisted of Mark who was fairly new to SwinleyForest. He enjoys biking and used to ride BMX’s. Two Peter’s. One who had ridden in Swinley but wanted to learn some skills and some of the trails better. The other Peter whose son had got him into biking and entered a race in Crowthorne. He thought it a

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good idea to get some tips having had a few unscheduled dismounts in the race. Ruth a member of the local mountain bike club who knows the forest well. She has got into racing and wanted to improve her cornering. Lastly Anna who wanted to get some coaching as she and some friends had entered the “Passport du Soleil,” a 50 mile MTB tour of the Portes du Soleil. (more…)


Ladies Beginners Course 19th May 2012

May 29th, 2012 by

Slightly overcast morning in SwinleyForest for the Ladies Beginners Course but the sun did make an appearance! All the ladies were on the course for similar reasons. Tania is local to the forest and has ridden some of the trails but wanted to come on a course to learn some basic skills on how to do it properly and gain confidence. Esther has done some mountain biking with her partner. She found that she lacked confidence on the trails he had taken her on so thought it would be a good idea to get some coaching to build her confidence, especially for tackling the narrower singletrack trails. Emma, Esther’s friend is new to mountain biking so wanted to learn the basics. She has recently become a new Mum and wanted something she can do with her friends to have that all important “time to yourself”. Mountain biking is ideal to escape from it all and have a great time with your mates. (more…)

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Coaching Karen in the Sunshine

April 24th, 2012 by

  The forecast at the beginning of the week had been for lots of wind and rain at Swinley Forest but luckily by Friday the forecast was showing bright spells. On Saturday morning it was lovely sunshine, just right for a morning coaching. Karen is fairly new to mountain biking and had been given a 1-2-1 Gift Voucher for Mothers day from her children. Although she had ridden a red trail at Afan with her husband she said she had struggled a bit and fell off a few times so my brief was to teach her the fundamental mountain biking skills to build up her confidence. Karen had never been to Swinley so to start with I explained about Swinley Forest and information with regards to it being part of a Special Protection Area for rare ground nesting birds. Following this I showed Karen how to carry out a bike check every time she rides to make sure that her bike is safe. We also discussed bike set up ie: seat height and brake levers. After a few tweaks we were ready to go to the first teaching area. One of the first basic skills of mountain biking to grasp is the ideal “body position”. This stance can be adapted quickly to whatever the trail may throw at you. Karen was a little tense in her shoulders at first but was soon relaxing. Just by adopting a new riding position I could see she was looking more confident. With Karen confidently moving her body position around the bike we then covered how to brake safely and efficiently. After spending a few minutes practicing this technique we moved on to cornering. First we started with a simple flat wide corner which enabled Karen to learn the basics

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before we moved onto Stickler 3 to work on linking some

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corners together. Despite Karen being a little bit daunted with the narrow trail and bermed corners she was soon changing her body position and using her footwork well. With her confidence increasing with every go I then chose a tighter bermed corner to work on her “looking” technique and just challenge her further.

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Using the building blocks already learnt she was cornering this section well. To complete cornering for the day it was off to the “four corners” which are slightly gravity assisted. Also with its tricky rooty entrance it would enable Karen to put all the skills she had learnt in to practice. With a few tips on how to tackle roots she tackled them confidently and did a few smooth runs round the corners. Time was unfortunately running out so it was time to head back. However, rather than taking the quick route I showed Karen the “Seagull Run” which would be ideal to take her family riding on as she was keen to get them to see the great trails Swinley has to offer. Before getting back we had a few minutes to have a play at un weighting the front wheel to get over trail obstacles. We arrived back at the car park just as a few spots of rain came down. All in all a very good morning. I hope you manage to come and enjoy the trails sometime soon 😀

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Liam and family session

April 9th, 2012 by

Easter break saw Liam with the 4 kids come to Swinley, William and Lizzie had been on a course at another centre, Henry and David were new to skills sessions. We covered the basic safety checks and briefing before heading out to the trails. We spent a short while just focusing on the control position, braking and bike set-up. As is common with children’s bikes the brake levers are always set up too far away for their hands to reach the levers. After a few adjustments we were sorted. Basic cornering followed the braking exercises; changes to the body position, “dropping your outside foot” and “looking” helped the group start to flow around the corners. (more…)

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Sunny morning for coaching George & Ian

April 2nd, 2012 by

  What a cracking day for Ian to take off work to learn some mountain bike skills with his son George. Ian and George have ridden in Swinley Forest as they live close by but don’t know the trails very well or how to link them up. They decided to have lesson so they could make the most of the brilliant mountain bike facility on their doorstep, to build their confidence and riding experience together with learning how to link some of the trails. After a safety check on our bikes followed by a few adjustments to brake positions and tyre pressures we hit the trails. We did a brisk ride along a few fire tracks to get ourselves warmed up before starting to coach the fundamental skills of mountain biking. The first thing we covered was “body position”. When riding off road it is essential to get your body position/footwork correct so the bike can move freely beneath you so you are poised and “ready for anything” the trail may throw at you. By getting this correct it is easy to manage the energy coming up from the trail, through the bike into you. Both of them grasped this quickly and Ian was amazed that something so simple made a huge difference to his confidence. After this we did a few braking exercises to show that being in the correct position on your bike was important to braking effectively and in control. By the end of these simple exercises I could see that Ian and George had grown in confidence which was great. Next stop was to introduce the core skills to cornering. To start with we used a flat wide corner to establish the skills required. After a few attempts their basic skills were developing nicely so we moved to a lovely section of linked corners. Here they worked on moving their body weight correctly, speed control and looking. Each attempt they got smoother and more controlled. It was then a quick blast on the Full Nine Yards to reach Stickler 1 to work them on the tight “S” bend which highlighted the importance of looking. With what they had leant earlier on cornering they were now able to feel when the flow wasn’t quite there and started to self analyse which was brilliant. We then popped into Stickler 3 to finish cornering for today on a bigger bermed “S” bend. George and Ian’s immediate thoughts were “looks pretty big!” Both of them are always up for a challenge so both rode it without an issue. Sometimes things may look a bit daunting but using the right skills and positive thinking give you the confidence to achieve and stay in control. Great effort! So with cornering completed we then went for a ride to try to find the downhill section that Ian had ridden previously with George.

Ian wanted some coaching on how to ride down it smoothly and in control without locking the back wheel and skidding down. We found it and it was definitely a very technical lose

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descent with roots, stumps and worn away gullies. Before riding it we first looked at line choice and I gave them a few tips to enable them to ride it in control and relaxed. First time down went well although they both looked a little tense. Ian and George were both keen to have another go. This time they were both more fluid, relaxed and in control. Third time down this run was followed by another interesting trail with roots, stumps and drop offs before we headed back to the car park. A quick run

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through of what we had covered in the session and finding out the key things that had helped their riding. For George it was the leaning/moving his bike when cornering, for Ian it was adjusting his brake levers, body position and learning to relax his arms. All in all a really enjoyable morning in the sunshine. See you on the trails soon.

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