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 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 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.