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

(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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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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