Sunny Day for Coaching MTB Skills

March 17th, 2014 by

  With the trails drying out and the sun shining it was a good day for coaching. Barbara and Ian ride a lot on the road but are getting more into mountain biking. They are planning to do the off road Coast to Coast route this year and wanted to pick up some tips and techniques to be able to flow through the trails and ride for longer. With the welcome and briefing about Swinley and the ground nesting birds covered we went through our basic safety checks (M check), helmet checks and a bit of bike set-up before heading out to the trails. Starting with a little warm up and a slight climb we briefly covered the basics of climbing/gear changing smoothly before focusing on the control position, braking and bike set-up. Brake levers adjusted to assist with the under rotation of the wrists. Basic cornering followed. With changes to the body position, “dropping your outside foot” and “looking” helped Barbara & Ian start to flow around the corners. We corrected a few habits, and got them to move away from their saddles and lean the bike. P1130468P1130462 Once they were happy with the concept of being balanced around the corner, we then moved across to the single-track corners. (more…)

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Mountain Bike Gift Voucher for Diana 23/8/13

September 9th, 2013 by

Diana has only been mountain biking for 4 months and recently lost her confidence after a fall so her boyfriend bought her a Skills Gift Voucher so she could learn some of the techniques for safe off road riding and to regain her confidence. Diana had told me that she struggles with balance, is quite wobbly on the narrow tracks and lacks confidence on drops since her tumble. 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. Diana was naturally adopting this position and was quickly moving confidently around on her bike. We then covered braking. After spending a few minutes practicing she could really feel the benefits of dropping the wrists and heels 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

Diana shifting her riding position to ease round the corner

Diana shifting her riding position to ease round the corner

Diana - outside foot down, leaning the bike.

Diana – outside foot down, leaning the bike.

Before Diana rode the linked corners we discussed the rooty entrance and how best to tackle such trail features. Diana rode this section several

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times and at first looked tense in her upper body but by the end of the coaching on this section she was more confident gliding over the roots.

Diana tackling the roots with confidence

Diana tackling the roots with confidence

On the linked corners Diana was improving her technique each time and was soon relaxing her shoulders, moving her bodyweight around the bike to gain the most grip and was riding far more smoothly.
Diana - good weighted outside leg & looking. Need to work on getting away from the saddle more.

Diana – good weighted outside leg & looking. Need to work on getting away from the saddle more.

Next we tackled how to adapt your body position when the trail ahead of you drops away. After a demo it was Diana’s turn. To begin with she was a bit apprehensive but once she had adjusted her bodyposition on her bike, controlled her speed and looked through the section she was riding it really well. It was great to see her confidence grow.
Part 1 - Looking committed & confident as the trail disappears!

Part 1 – Looking committed & confident as the trail disappears!

Part 2 - Chin up looking ahead for trail features.

Part 2 – Chin up looking ahead for other trail features.

We then headed across the forest to Stickler to carry on the cornering theme at a switchback corner to work on the importance of “looking” and to challenge Diana further.

As this section stepped outside of Diana’s comfort zone her first attempt took her back to old habits which meant she struggled to make it round the corner smoothly. However with a bit more coaching and more practice she started to corner better.

Looking for your "exit" great......body position not so good. Be confident to lean the bike & get outside leg down.

Looking for your “exit” great……body position not so good. Be confident to lean the bike & get outside leg down.

Diana had mentioned previously a part of the trail that she really had difficulty riding. With the improvements Diana had made I was convinced that she would now be able to ride it with confidence so we headed to the “Whoops”(that’s what I call them!) on Stickler. With a quick re-cap on how to adjust your riding when the trail drops away Diana gave it a go. I am pleased to say she rode them brilliantly and with a new found confidence…..whoop whoop!!
Whoop Whoop - Looking good!!!

Whoop Whoop – Looking good!!!

It was great to meet you and I had a great morning. Have fun practicing the techniques you picked up and may see you out on the trails soon 🙂

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MTB Skills Morning with James & Kate 17/8/13

September 3rd, 2013 by

James and Kate are used to riding road bikes but had recently enjoyed riding off road on forest tracks at the New Forest so bought a couple of mountain bikes. We began the session with a quick briefing about Swinley Forest followed by talking about the bike set up and completing a safety check before setting off. To begin with I got them both to ride the green trail so it would give me

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an idea on the sort of level of off road riding they currently had. They both rode it well and were already getting off of the saddle to manoeuvre their bikes so this was a great starting point. To start with we went through the “control/ready for anything position” on the bike and how to use the brakes safely and confidently. We then started moving our weight around the bike to introduce where her body position should be to gain the best traction from our tyres. Moving on to cornering

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we started with a simple one just to get the basics correct. James and Kate picked this up quickly and looked confident leaning the bike over so we moved to the linked corners. The four corners gave Kate and James the opportunity to practice making the quick transition from a

left hand corner to a right hand corner whilst controlling speed. We also looked at line choices and visual irritations on a trail that may affect your confidence and commitment and spoke about how best to tackle them. Kate worked

well through the corners and looked more confident moving away from her saddle and leaning the bike over as the trail tightened so she could get the best grip. Despite cornering really well on the flat sweeping corner earlier James struggled a bit with the tighter corners and started drifting back to his saddle rather than pushing the bike away. With a bit more practice he was progressing but needed to build on this technique After this we looked at how to adapt your body position when the trail disappears in front of you i.e.: bomb hole/roll in. Following a demonstration of shifting your body weight & adjusting your pedal position James & Kate rode this section of the trail with confidence. To finish off the session we went to Stickler and looked at a few different types of corners on the trail where speed control and looking were crucial to ride them smoothly and efficiently. As Kate & James rode these sections I could see that their riding had really progressed since we rode the green trail at the beginning of the session which was great. Hope to see you out on the trails 🙂

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MTB Skills Coaching with Adam – 11th June 2013

June 15th, 2013 by

Adam used to do a lot of road riding but with the roads being quite unpleasant to ride on due to too many dangerous and impatient car drivers he decided to start riding off road. Like many of us once you have tried mountain biking you love it. Adam booked up a skills session as he had started competing in a few mountain bike endurance races and wanted to learn a few tips to get faster and more efficient on the trails. We started back to basics to iron out any bad habits he may have picked up. The first skill we worked on was his body position on the bike…..”control” or “ready for anything” stance and how to adapt this to get round corners. Straight away Adam found it much easier to move the bike around by being out of the saddle and shifting his body weight. By adjusting the position of his brake levers also helped with braking. We covered cornering next, starting simple to get the technique correct. Adam was pretty smooth cornering to the left but needed to work harder on the right hand corner as he tended to dip his shoulder and not shift his body weight over enough. The 4 corners gave Adam the opportunity to practice making the quick transition from a left hand corner to a right hand corner whilst controlling speed. Adam worked well through the corners and looked confident moving away from the saddle and leaning the bike over more as the trail tightened so he could get the best grip. P1120386P1120393               Once the 4 corners were mastered it was on to “Stickler” with the many singletrack corners to work through where you need smooth pedal strokes to transition between each corner and focus ahead. Here we also introduced a bit of pumping so we could gain free speed

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just by using the energy we put into our bikes. P1120405 Adam was using his footwork well to corner but did start going back to his saddle whilst in the corners so we worked on getting out of that habit before we moved on to a bermed tight s-bend to put all the earlier work on cornering into practice. P1120400P1120408                 To manage these corners well and to keep a good flow and momentum it was important to be focused, looking for your exit, footwork and leaning the bike. Adam’s first attempt took him a bit high on the first exit because he was not looking far enough around the corner for his

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exit which made it more difficult to keep momentum and tackle the second corner. He needed to scan all the way round the corner to the exit, turning his hips (steering with his belly button) and leaning his bike over. Whilst coaching we watched a few other riders come labouring through these corners having to pedal and waste energy. One rider fell off purely from the fact of being sat in his saddle, entering the corner too fast, not in the correct body position and not looking. Luckily he didn’t hurt himself but it gave us a good example of how not to corner! So with a few more coaching points Adam was coasting around these corners with ease whilst conserving energy but not losing any speed. P1120413To practice pumping the trail a bit more we rode a section of “Tank Traps” without pumping, then re-rode it pumping. Adam was getting more efficient at this skill and could feel the free energy and acceleration he was getting. On the way back to the car park we looked

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at how reading the trail ahead can help build up a picture of what may be ahead. At the end of the coaching Adam was much more relaxed in his shoulders/elbows, his footwork was good and he felt he was gaining speed and cornering far more efficiently. Good luck, practice and enjoy 🙂

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1-1 Mountain Bike Coaching – Elaine

April 10th, 2013 by

Elaine

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is a lover of the great outdoors. She runs, cycles, does adventure races and triathlons. With an injury keeping her from running she was out on her mountain bike more and decided she wanted to learn the necessary skills to build her confidence for off road riding. 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. Firstly we briefly covered how to change gears smoothly whilst using an efficient pedalling technique for going up hills off road efficiently. At the top of the climb it was time to explain the ideal body position to adopt when riding off road. Elaine picked this up really quickly which was great as this meant we could move on to the core skills to cornering. On the way to the introductory corners we went through how to use your brakes safely and confidently and adjusted Elaine’s brake levers so they are easier to reach when in the control position. We then started moving our weight around the bike to introduce where her body position should be to gain the best traction from our tyres. Moving on to cornering we started with a simple one just to

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get the basics correct. To begin with Elaine stayed fairly straight on her bike with not much movement. However, after a few tips she started to lean the bike and shift her bodyweight around which was great. P1110200P1110208               Moving on to the four corners it gave Elaine the opportunity to

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practice making the quick transition from a left hand corner to a right hand corner whilst controlling speed. We also looked at line choices and visual irritations on a trail that may affect your confidence and commitment and spoke about how best to tackle them. P1110216 P1110222               Elaine worked well through the corners and looked more confident moving away from the saddle and leaning the bike over as the trail tightened so she could get the best grip. With her confidence growing we moved onto Stickler to work on linking some corners and using tighter bermed corners to challenge her “looking” and “footwork”technique.   P1110231P1110230 Another aspect of off road riding Elaine wanted to learn was to get over obstacles such as roots/logs/step ups on the trails so we spent a bit of time running through the technique for this. With time running short we headed to Seagull and covered the “cone of movement” going over a mound in the trail and followed the trail to the green gate before heading back to the Look Out. See you on the trails soon.

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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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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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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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