Sunday, 27 March 2011

Beginners course 270311

Teaching mountain bike skills is always interesting and often gives you an insight into people's fears, attitudes and previous experiences. Today was very interesting as Kathryn came to improve on her core skills. She struck me as a very confident, fit and able cyclist having years of road cycling experience. She got on very well with adapting all the core skills, applying both climbing and descending techniques well on the easier descents, but after a while it was obvious that there was an underlying fear preventing her from relaxing and increasing the difficulty in the terrain. It turned out that Kathryn suffered from a pronounced fear of heights, also present in her day-to-day life, as well as other sports such as fell running etc. Not being a psycologist, but still aware of the physical responses to do with severe phobias (show me a bit spider and I'll run a mile , not kidding!!) I decided not to push Kathryn too hard as the phobia was not specifically related to the mountain biking but instead something that should be addressed separately. We still managed to do most of the skills on the course, such as manual front wheel lifts, narrow singletrack and smaller drop offs, proving that she had picked up the techniques well and will be able to ride most of the terrain she will encounter. I often try and push people to ride as much of the technical stuff as possible, but sometimes there is a limit to what people should be pushed into doing and today was one of those days. Despite not proving herself on the most technical terrain Kathryn can now at least be assured that once heights won't bother her psycologically then her core skills will be more than sufficient for anything nature might throw at her!

Monday, 21 March 2011

Intermediate course 200311

What do you get if you combine 5 crashes, one lost bike computer, rain, one snapped chain and a near plunge in the canal? The answer is: A surprisingly nice day! Mark, Andy, Martin, Steve and another Steve is part of a local group who normally go out riding together so were used to technical and rocky terrain and lots of climbing. During the long climb in the morning we dealt with power assisted front wheel lifts and wheelies and track stands before moving onto the steep sharp slopes near Mellor Cross to exemplify some common techniques for different kind of descents.

We stopped for lunch at my place to try and dry out before starting on the afternoons main activities which were bunny hopping and jumping. Despite some kind walkers trying to remove our obstacles everyone in the group managed to lift both front and back wheels without using SPDs, illustrating the need to use their body weight to maneuver the bike. A few of them managed to put the sequence together in one jump to perform the very useful bunny hop. Martin (who was thoroughly unlucky throughout the entire day!) managed to implement the back wheel lift (by unintentionally touching his front brake) to the extent that he flew over the bars a couple of times to the horror of everyone watching which led to a somewhat cautious approach to the remaining bunny hopping session.

With the basics in place we then did some jumping off a 1 foot high drop to not only try and get the timing right for the pump but also try and control the landing. Both Steves were in their element at this point extending their time in the air with each attempt. Following the jumping it was a matter of exposing the group to increasingly scary looking terrain to push the boundaries of what they would normally consider ridable. We started with the big rooty drop which everyone who weren't chronically unlucky rode very well , which was followed by a stretch of muddy and very slippy singletrack which saw me coming off my bike!  At the bottom there were a few more challenges, including a sheer looking drop that the Steves couldn't resist having a go at and I'll never forget the verbal exclamations from one of them as he rode past the point of no return and seemed to fear for his life as he quite elegantly made it down.

A combined wish of wanting more challenges and finishing the day in the pub saw us heading up for some interesting terrain near the canal in Strines to practise the importance of looking in the right place while riding down big steps on a sharp bend. After a couple of more crashes and one moment of terror as one of the Steves looked like he was going to end up in the canal we wrapped the day up and the group went for a very well deserved pint!

Monday, 14 March 2011

Beginners course 130311

A group of friends, Andy, Mel, Dave, Mary and Kath had booked together to come and learn some core skills. A drizzly and grey start to the day was soon replaced by glorious sunshine and blue skies. Lot of skills were learnt of which the power assisted front wheel lifts seemed to be the most popular one and climbing all the steep hills the least popular one! Lovely group atmosphere and the course proved a challange to even the most experienced in the group. I hope the day will have helped them riding stuff that normally they would have walked before.

Saturday, 12 March 2011

Intermediate course 120311

Milly and Jo came on the intermediate course having had quite a lot of experience of riding trail centers including black trails. Their skill level was pretty good but they had certain things they struggled with such as lifting the front wheel over obstacles while climbing, bunny hopping and just in need of a little confidence boost to be able to tackle even harder obstacles.

We set off with a big technical climb which gave us immediate opportunity to practise the front wheel lifts over some rock steps as well as some wheelies and trackstanding practise on the road leading us to the little disused quarry for various different types of descents. Quickly and efficiently they absorbed all the instructions and quickly mastered the available challenges. After lunch we started on bunny hopping practise which was put into good use on some smaller jumps and well as jumping over a drop. Both girls really enjoyed being in the air and while Jo's ability to "pump" her bike really paid off for the bunny hopping, Milly managed some very high and long jumps off the drop. To finish the day off they rode some scary looking big drops and slopes to finish tired but boosted in the confidence department and ready to move on in their riding!

Hi Emmy

Thanks very much for putting the pictures up, and so quickly!
We both really enjoyed the day, and we definitely felt some immediate improvements the next day when we went to Lee Quarry. Stuff like the bunny hops we'll obviously need to practice to get right, but we both felt that the course gave us an immediate confidence boost - for me I felt a lot happier doing steep downhills, I was more aware of my positioning and felt a lot more in control.
You're a really good teacher, patient and supportive and it's great to be taught by someone who knows what they're doing and can also explain it well too!
Thanks again,

Thursday, 10 March 2011

Beginners course 090311

Despite a number of punctures and an initial hale storm the day turned out very well, helped by the delightful and positive people on the course, as well as Annie's toffee eclairs!

Graham and Peter both had done quite a lot of mountain biking in the past and quickly absorbed new tips and skills, finding especially useful to look further ahead and moving their weights more on the bikes. Discovering that to lift the front wheels you use your legs rather than your arms was also a new thing to them but was quickly mastered and especially Peter did a very good job of riding a very rocky and technical climb normally reserved for the intermediate course. Annie had less experience but quickly got to grips with steep climbs and smaller drops and steps, while tight turns proved to be a nemesis which she continued practising on during the day. A wonderful group to work with and best of luck to Annie for her up and coming mountain biking adventure doing  140  miles of the Pennine Bridleway, which she is now very well prepared for!
Dear Emmy
many thanks for yesterday what a great day it was and what a great teacher you are. I will definitely be back for more coaching as you developed my riding skills and confidence more in one day than I have acheived in the last few years of tootling around on my bike and so a massive thank you from me. I will definitely be practicing all of the things that we did and will be in touch soon.

Once again many thanks and look forward to seeing you soon,

Best wishes