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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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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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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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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Superb Afternoon coaching Jane

March 22nd, 2012 by

  Beautiful afternoon to be teaching mountain bike skills. The trails were dry and quiet and the birds were tweeting. Jane had picked a perfect time to have a day off. Jane’s first sport is sailing closely followed by ski-ing. But as a lover of the great outdoors she also enjoys doing a bit of cycling and wanted to learn some

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basic mountain biking skills so she can ride off road confidently and in control. 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. Using a gradual incline we firstly covered how to change gears smoothly whilst using an efficient pedalling technique for going up hills. At the top of the hill it was time to explain the ideal body position to adopt when riding off road. Jane picked this up really quickly which was great as this meant we could move on to cornering technique. Before reaching our introductory

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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 traction from our tyres. With Jane having skied before she had no trouble understanding where she needed to shift her weight to get round the corners and I could see her confidence growing which was fantastic. Having nailed the basics to cornering we moved onto Stickler 3 to work on linking some

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corners together. Jane was smoothly changing her body position and using her footwork well so I then chose a tighter bermed corner to challenge her “looking” technique. Jane was slightly apprehensive at first as this corner does have a trail feature (a big tree) on the inside of the corner that can put you off your flow. However, after a few attempts and using the building blocks already learnt earlier she was happily getting round. To complete cornering for the day it was off to the “four corners” with its tricky rooty entrance. With a few tips on how to tackle roots Jane tackled them confidently and did a few smooth runs round the corners. Descending was the next thing Jane wanted to cover so we headed to a medium sized hill. Few teaching points and Jane rode down with great control. We then went to a bit of singletrack that had a small roll in to demonstrate moving your body position when you find the trail drops away. Time was unfortunately running out so it was time to head back. As Jane was growing in confidence and eager to give anything a go I gave her two choices; either up a fire road climb or attempt a technical singletrack climb that has most people getting off there bikes just looking at it. Jane chose the latter which was brilliant and really showed her grit and determination to try something new. She made two gallant efforts but today wasn’t going to be the day to conquer it…….although with a bit more practice I am sure it won’t be long until she will be at the top! It was a fabulous afternoon and lovely to meet you. Hope to see you out on the trails when you’re not sailing 😀

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Michael & Neil’s Skills Session

March 18th, 2012 by

  Michael and Neil decided to make the most of the good weather we are having and booked on a pairs skills session. Both of them are experienced road riders/triathletes so very used to handling a bike on tarmac but realise that handling a bike off road is a different kettle of fish! Although they have been riding mountain bikes for about a year they wanted to learn the new set of skills needed to be able to flow fast and smoothly through singletrack. The morning began with a safety check

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on our bikes and a quick chat about the kind of tyre pressure required for off road riding. After reducing the psi in their front tyres we headed out to the trails. Knowing that both Michael and Neil were used to sitting comfortably on their road bikes the first thing we covered was the body position to adopt when mountain biking. When riding off road technical trails 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. Both of them grasped this quickly so we moved on to some braking practice and introduced the basics of cornering. To begin with we rode a flat wide corner to get the feel of getting the outside foot down. Michael and Neil had no trouble with which foot to get down round a corner so we quickly moved on to a singletrack section of linked corners. Here I got them to concentrate on moving their body weight and leaning the bike a bit more. It was then a quick blast on the Full Nine Yards to reach Stickler 2. Using one of the larger sweeping corners it

was time to put their new cornering skills in to practice. The first few times through were a bit clunky but with a few coaching tips they were riding it with a lot more flow. Next we looked at a tight “S” bend which highlighted the importance of looking. With Neil and Michael soaking up all the information well it was time to take in a few of the flowing trails and headed to the expert mountain bike area. Here we covered a bit about how to descend on narrow, loose terrain in a controlled manor. Having descended from the highest point in Swinley in was time to go back up so climbing up the wall with no run up certainly got the lungs burning. After catching our breath it was time to finish cornering with a blast down Deer Stalker which is always great to ride and start heading back to the Look Out. On the way we stopped off at the pump track to show how we can make riding more energy efficient by learning how to pump. Both had a few attempts and were getting to grips with it and with a bit more practice I am sure they will be enjoying coasting through bits of trail saving energy as they go. Thoroughly enjoyable morning. Great to meet you both and hope you get a chance to get out on the trails soon to practice 😀

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