Monday, 21 February 2011

Intermediate course 200211

Adrian, Sam and Nick, all fairly local and familiar with the area, came to progress their riding further, both in learning new skills and also increase their confidence on technical terrain.

Both Adrian and Sam had ridden for many years and their core skills were very already very good, which showed when we did technical climbing and descending rocky loose slopes. After doing wheelies, track standing and cornering we moved on to bunny hops in the afternoon.

Neither had done bunny hopping before and in a remarkably short time Adrian was able to jump nearly a foot high in true beautiful bunny hop style using flat pedals. Sam, who uses SPDs, did well in resisting the temptation of doing speed hops and was able to brake the movement up and lift the wheels separately of the ground despite an initial aversion to lifting the front wheel of the ground.  Nick with many years experience of road cycling also did very well with the bunny hops.

After the bunny hoping we moved on to doing some jumps and judging by the smiles and how many goes they all had (apart from Nick whose brake levers sadly snapped after just two jumps when sliding into the bank and not being able to release his foot from the SPD in time) I got the feeling they liked being in the air!

To finish the day we rode a big drop off to further build their confidence up and slid through the mud down to the bottom of the valley as a nice end to the day.


Sunday, 20 February 2011

Beginners course 190211

Woke up to sleety showers and a forecast of huge amounts of rain and to say I was looking forward to spending the day outside would have been hugely exaggerated. I couldn't have been more wrong as not only did the weather improve but also the participants on the course, Paul and Martin, made the day very enjoyable. You could tell they got great satisfaction when they started to ride harder and harder terrain and discovering how easy it was using the right technique. "I would never have ridden that before today" or " I can't believe how easy that was" were commonly heard phrases. Even the two very big drops towards the end were ridden very confidently.

Nature had decided to provide a few new obstacle for this course, such as very sticky, thick and uneven mud, plenty of new rocks on the eroded climbs and descents as well as eroding the top layer on the new steps that the council had recently put in. However that didn't seem to bother Martin and Paul who seemed to relish in new challenges and seemed to learn everything more or less straight away.


Saturday, 12 February 2011

Private session 110211

Another returning customer today! Amanda came for a one-to-one session in the spring of last year being a very nervous and cautious rider, hating any form of off-road descending. It was nice to see that she had improved a lot in her riding since but still descending, particularly on loose rocks, was something she really struggled to master enough confidence to do. This time she had brought husband Rod along with her, who was ready for some intermediate skills.

We started with some technical climbing as well as spending a bit of time on power assisted front wheel lifts over obstacles before Rod had a go at learning to wheelie. Rod had very good balance as he was already able to track stand, something which I showed Amanda how to do to allow her to feel more in control of the bike especially when setting off on rougher terrain. I tried to encourage Amanda to ride some smaller drops  but she hadn't built up enough confidence to allow herself to have a go, mainly due to fear of rocks. When we broke up for lunch I was slightly worried that Amanda wouldn't feel that the course had given her anything, especially since Rod was going from strength to strength having a go a increasingly difficult terrain.

Things changed dramatically after lunch! Re-fuelled and rested I thought this was the time to tackle Amanda's fear of rocks and I used the simplest method ever. By putting as few smallish rocks (1-2 inches high) on the path I asked her to rde over them which she did without hesitation. After riding over these rocks repeatedly she seemed to be able to relax more and actually seemed to enjoy it! We then moved on to lifting the front wheel as the first step to bunny hopping something Rod had struggled to learn on flat pedals. Amanda's confidence seemed to grow by the minute as she turned out to be excellent at front wheel lifts and built on this skill to even do a bit of jumping! Rod added back wheel lifts to his list of skills and also manged to put the two together to bunny hop over some obstacles. On the way back to the starting point Amanda rode one of  the rockiest descent in the area and Rod practised jumping off a drop. Nice end to a lovely day!

Thanks for the email and links to the photos (I love the one of Amanda popping off the jump:)).  It was nice to see you again aswell and we both really enjoyed - had some great fun!  We went out yesterday to practice some things, and Amanda amazed me by just riding straight down a long rocky descent that she's previously always walked - we then pushed back up and rode it 2 or 3 times over!  She looked very composed (and dare I say, even quite relaxed) on the bike.  I found a nice ramp at the bottom of the descent and managed to get the 'pop' to get airbourne for a couple of metres:)  Amanda was also been trying to pop her wheels off little jumps and rocks all over the place - I think she's developing a taste for getting her wheels airbourne!  She also practiced trackstanding, and is so close to getting it, I think she'll be able to do it quite soon.  I think we did more than we realised yesterday, because we can both hardly walk up the stairs today!

Best wishes,

Amanda & Rod
p.s. Amanda reckons the reason it took her some time to get going in the morning, was that she was so stressed out from getting us lost twice, then stuck in roadworks on the journey over (I'll 'borrow' the sat-nav out of her car next time we come over ;) 

Thursday, 10 February 2011

Intermediate course 090211

It was lovely to see Emma again as she returned for more skills training after having completed the beginner's course in September and I have to say I was amazed at how confident and technically proficient she had become in just over 5 months! She had also invested in a quality full-suspension bike, another sign that she was properly hooked on mountain biking (always nice to see a fellow addict!) She had been very cautious on the beginners course as she only had started to ride a bike shortly before, but it really looked like she had been doing it for years looking at her on the intermediate course. She was definately ready to add some more skills to make riding even more fun! Technical climbing was quickly mastered as well as power assisted front wheel lifts. Her slow speed balance was identified as being one of the things she needed to work more on. By practising trackstanding for a few minutes she managed to improve her balance just enough to tackle some of the really slow and technical descents that were available later in the day.

Part of the afternoon was spent practising front and back wheel lifts to beginning to move your body about on the bike, something which will be a useful skill for jumping. Emma managed both lifts over the obstacles showing that she was able to pump the bike as well as move her weight at the right times. Some practise will be needed to fully master the bunny hops and I'm certain she will get there. The progress was sufficient to start jumping off smaller drops and there was not hesitation or fear of being in the air as we worked on the priciples of jumping. Thoroughly enjoyable day!

Hi Emmy,

I had a fantastic day topped off by some unexpectedly lovely weather as well. The beginners course gave me the initial skills and confidence to get out onto the hills and tackle some decent routes. Having now done the intermediate course I really feel that I've learnt some valuable, more advanced skills which I'm sure will not just help with technical rides but also really add to the enjoyment - I'm looking forward to getting into a few jumps.
I can't thank you enough for giving me chance to experience some real mountain biking because if I hadn't come on the first course then I doubt I would have got out too much at all. I always recommend you if I get the chance and I've just given the website details to a colleague at work.
The shoelaces, by the way, were
Maybe we'll meet on the trails one day!
Take care

Monday, 7 February 2011

Intermediate course 040211

Richard had done a lot of cycling both road and mountain biking but not really spent time thinking about skills and technique. He had been given the course as a present from his wife and it was the ideal opportunity for him to both learn new things as well as getting an overview of his existing skills. His trial and error approach had taken him quite far as demonstrated by being excellent at track standing although he needed more encouragement to move about more on the bike, something that was made a little harder by the fact that he couldn't lower his seat post very much.  The intermediate course is very much centered around "pumping" the bike to make it come off the ground for various applications and a few times he borrowed my bike to just to see how much easier it was once the seat post was out of the way. It convinced him that he needed to cut his own down a bit, something he had been meaning to do for a long time.

Once jumping and bunny hopping was out of the way we spent time working on tight and technical corners to demonstrate the importance of where you are looking as well as staying balanced on the bike. We also did a some rocky and technical climbing something Richard was already very good at due to excellent power to weight ratio, all that was needed was to encourage him to lean more forward and tuck in his elbows as the ground became more rocky and he flew up the technical climb with out a single dab.

The day was very gloomy and dark but thankfully the rain held off and the temperature was a balmy 13 degrees so can't complain about that, especially considering the horrendous floods and awful winds that were to come for the weekend!