Ladies Beginners Skills Session 22nd March 2014

March 24th, 2014 by

After a spell of very poor weather over the last month it was great to be coaching a Ladies Beginners Mountain bike course in the dry, although we did get a little hail! I met the ladies on a chilly Saturday morning all keen to learn some mountain bike skills. Sam had been given a gift voucher from her friend Emma and Louises’ was a birthday present from her husband. After a safety check

on our bikes making sure they were in good working order, making a few adjustments and a briefing about Swinley Forest and ground nesting birds we headed out. First we covered the most fundamental skill to off road riding…….. the body position. Sometimes its referred to as

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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. It took a few minutes for them to really feel at ease in the “ready for anything” stance as they had been used to sitting on the saddle when riding. Before long they all were looking more flexible and relaxed and I could see their confidence growing.

Louise - Good relaxed Control Position

Louise – Good relaxed Control Position

Sam - Ready for anything

Sam – Ready for anything

Emma - Relaxed, under rotating wrists, heels down, looking ahead

Emma – Relaxed, wrists & heels down, looking ahead


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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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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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Ladies Beginners Skills Course 13th April 2013

April 30th, 2013 by

After a few weeks of poor weather it looked like the Ladies Beginners Mountain bike course was going to be rain free! Fingers crossed! Holly had been given a gift voucher and although had ridden off-road several times before was keen to learn the proper technique to off-road riding. Liz is fairly new to mountain biking and was looking forward to learning the skills necessary to have fun riding off-road. After a safety check on our bikes making sure they were in good working order and making a few adjustments to brake levers so they were easy to reach we headed out. Firstly I followed them riding the Green trail just so I could see how they got on before we headed into the forest. First thing we covered was braking and the best way to brake efficiently and in control. We did a little exercise with braking to show how important it was to have your body weight in the right place when braking. Holly and Liz could feel straight away that knowing a few basic skills made them feel

more confident on a bike, especially when braking. 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 P1110707 that you may encounter on the trails. It took a few minutes for them to really feel at ease in the “ready for anything” stance as they had been used to sitting on the saddle when riding. Before long they were both looking more flexible and relaxed and I could see their confidence growing. P1110704     Next we moved on to cornering. Firstly I got them all to ride a coned slalom course so I could see how they rode before giving them tips to make cornering much smoother and easier. It took a little time to get them both confident getting away from their saddles and leaning the bike away from them. P1110719P1110724             They both worked hard on this technique around the cones so we then introduced a couple of sweeping corners. Here we could work further on the technique of speed control, footwork, body position and looking. Both Holly and Liz were looking far more confident manoeuvring their bikes around and started flowing smoothly round the corners. P1110750 P1110731 P1110747P1110761 P1110771P1110737 Next we covered gear changing and the basic technique to climbing with a smooth pedal stroke. Both ladies used their gears effectively to make it to the top of the climb with ease. With a quick breather we talked about descending and the body position which should be adopted to feel confident going downhill. With lots of enthusiasm to learn more we headed to another area of the forest and introduced linked cornering. The section we used had a series

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of bermed corners on a gravity assisted piece of trail so body position, speed control and looking were all crucial. At first the ladies struggled a bit with getting their looking and footwork right as the trail took them a little out

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of their comfort zone. However, after a few tips and attempts their confidence grew and they started cornering with more flow. P1110802 P1110786   To end the session we rode a small section of the Blue trail to see the improvements in their riding from the mornings Green run. Straight away it was obvious that they were both more confident. Automatically getting in the “ready for anything” position as they tackled the trail. They both flowed through the trail with good speed and eased around the corners. A very enjoyable morning and for me as a coach it’s lovely to see the confidence grow in all of the riders as the session progressed. Hope to see you out on the trails soon. Have fun 😀

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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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Sunny morning for coaching George & Ian

April 2nd, 2012 by

  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

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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

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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.

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