Wednesday, 17 November 2010

Beginner's course 171110

If it wasn't for Dominic's cheerful attitude and enthusiasm, today wouldn't have been half as pleasant as the weather was to say the least grim! Cold northerly winds, drizzle and soggy trails that put off most of the usual trail users. More space for us I suppose! Dominic was another very fit road cyclist that had decided to try off-road riding and found it quite different from being on the road. He quickly adapted his riding to the new instructions, adding one piece of advise to each attempt at riding drop-offs, rocky descents and steep climbs until most things seemed very easy. Thanks to him being the only one on the course, it left us free to explore some new obstacles, some of them made a lot harder by the abundance of slippery wet leaves! Apart from two very obnoxious jack russells that seemed to want to eat one of my shoes, the day went extremely well despite the horrid conditions!

Sunday, 14 November 2010

Beginner's course 131110

What a perfect day! Not only was the weather stunningly nice but with three superb participants and two extra instructors the day was very pleasant indeed! Phil and his twelve year old son Mason, had done quite a lot of mountain biking already and came to make sure that what they were doing was correct and to increase their confidence on particularly hard obstacles. Franck had not been off road that much but had huge experience (and fitness!) from years of road cycling. Also joining us on the day was Steve who also is an instructor for Mountain Bike Skills Courses and Danny who is studying outdoor pursuits at Manchester University. We quickly found out that the participants were already very confident on their bikes and they found it very easy to adopt the small changes needed to further improve on their riding, and with three instructors there to watch and give feedback they really were scrutinized to the full! Once all the techniques were in place we spent the last hour riding a mix of terrain and obstacles which also included one or two from the intermediate course whilst enjoying the final long descent back down to the cafe. It was nice to share experiences with both Steve and Danny although I would be surprised if they find many groups as good and easy to teach as we had on that day! A big thanks to Danny for being in charge of the camera.

Tuesday, 9 November 2010

Intermediate course 091110

Stephen came all the way from Essex to be sure to get some practise in on rocky descending. We also got some proper northern weather to go with the rocks as it was drizzling most of the day with a few minutes here and there of sunshine together with a biting cold wind.

A quick change of the route and we managed to have lunch at my house to warm up a bit as the cafe down at Roman Lakes hasn't got any indoor seating area yet.

The morning was spent mainly practising moving the weight back and forwards on the bike to do some steep descending but also practise turning on a rocky and tight bend. This was followed by bunny hop and speed hop practise. At this point we lowered Stephen's saddle and he found a new freedom of movement on his bike that really showed in his riding. After lunch we went up to the little quarry on the hill and rode a mix of descents, some rocky, some narrow and some steep and some all of the above. Gradually Stephen relaxed and together with a lower more laid back riding position he found that he didn't have to use his brakes constantly and his speed increased a lot. This was clearly evident towards the end when we practised jumping off some drops and he literally flew down the hill!

Thursday, 4 November 2010

Beginner course 041110

Perfect timing weather wise today as we managed to sandwich a beginners course between the torrential rain weather fronts! Trails were very wet and full of slippery leaves making it more of a challange than usual for Keith and Mike, todays participants.

Keith had phoned me the day before asking about how much fitness was required for the course and I reassured him that we would take it at a slow pace and that there would be frequent stops anyway. As it turned out I was the one struggling to keep up with him at times! As well as being way above normal fitness level for a pensioner, he also did very well on the technical aspects of the course and had a great attitude to having a go at stuff! He had a slight mishap at the very end of the day when the tyres gave way on some slippery leaves and he landed heavily on his shoulder but I'm sure he will be back on his bike soon.

Mike warned me in the carpark that he had a very cautious approach to technical stuff, preferring to get off and walk it rather than ride it and that despite a previous skills course had failed to progress on the technical riding front. I like a challenge and was expecting to have to spend a long time trying to convince Mike to ride stuff. But I was wrong! Often  Mike and Keith were looking at each other smiling in "Does she really mean we should be able to ride that???"-kind of way when I demonstated stuff. However when they had a go using the techniques I showed them, they found themselves in full control and not being scared. By taking them on harder and harder terrain and making them repeat everything several times, especially Mike seemed to find a confidence that had been lacking previously in his riding. Being very local to Cannock Chase I'm sure he will be out soon riding all the things on the Monkey Trail he previously prefered to walk!

Monday, 1 November 2010

Beginner course 011110

Richard was quite new to mountain biking and had mainly done easy paths rather than technical terrain before coming on the course. Initially he was quite reluctant to start moving his body weight around while on the bike but as the day progressed he became more and more relaxed and started to read the signals from the bike and feel more comfortable standing up on the pedals. We gradually moved on to harder terrain, some of it very rocky both for climbing and descending and I'm sure Richard will enjoy some of the challenging Peak District terrain next time he goes out on his bike.