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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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 🙂

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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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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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Private Session with Tony and Charlie (aged 8)

March 12th, 2012 by

Both Dad, Tony and Son, Charlie had ridden in Swinley a few times before – but struggled with a few of the trails so decided to come out on a coaching session. We covered the basic safety checks and briefing before heading out to the trails. We spent a short while just focusing on body position, braking and bike set-up. As is common with youths’ bikes, Charlie’s had been set-up without any consideration that he has smaller hands than the mechanic that set the bike up. It needed the brake levers closer to the bar and also set at the correct angle. Once we’d made the necessary adjustments, Charlie was able to use the brakes in a more controlled and safe fashion. Basic cornering followed the braking exercises; changes to foot work was the order of the day for both Tom and Charlie. Linking the foot work with the shift in body position became more

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natural and both of them were starting to flow through the corners. We then headed over to “Stickler” to sample the challenges of the switch back on “Stickler One”. Here the focus turned to “looking through for the exit”, and both Tony and Charlie developed their looking skills with a few runs through the corners. As both were taking in the new found skills quickly and smoothly we decided to up the stakes a bit and headed onto “Stickler Two” where the bermed corners get progressively bigger and tighter. Charlie soaked up the cornering techniques and was whizzing through the corners like an expert in no time at all. We finished off the cornering on “Stickler Three” with the final deep bomb hole and berms, both Tony and Charlie flowed through the berms with style and confidence. On our ride back towards the LookOut

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we tried a few exercises with pumping and manual front wheel lift. Then discussed how you can develop this into the bunny hop. Final debrief at the car park and it was time to head for home. It was a pleasure doing the coaching session and I hope to see you both out on your bikes soon.

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