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
before we moved onto Stickler 3 to work on linking some
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.
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 😀