Thursday, 14 April 2011

Beginner's course 130411

I am sure that some people when booking a midweek day would anticipate a very small group, but as luck would have it 4 people booked the beginner's course this Wednesday. I'm saying luck as it turned out that everyone got on exceptionally well together, sharing crash stories and encouraging each other in all the events of the day. Some were more crash prone than others but everyone were very quick to put all the techniques into pracise, even simple ones as setting off on a climb! Lovely group to teach where everyone had their own personality but being equally wonderful to spend a day with!
 Saf had a great attitude and boundless enthusiasm and literally threw himself down some of the slopes, his development of skills only just keeping pace with his ambitions! Speed didn't frighten Saf so once we fine tuned his descending position making him put his weight a bit further back there was no stopping him!
 James and Nigel both took things slightly more cautiously and increased their speed and confidence as the day progressed, finding out that with the right techniques and body positions even quite difficult terrain feels easy to ride. Especially James had only limited experience of riding technical terrain, did very well even on the last big rooty drop off which he rode beautifully and in complete control, despite me being a little hesitant to let him have a go at first.
 Mark had done quite a bit of riding before and used the beginners course to brush up on the basics and confirm what he had been doing was correct and learn the theory behind these things. Mark had added on a private day the following day which we used for intermediate skills such as jumping off stuff, bunny hoping etc as well as doing a 33 km loop with nearly 1000m of climbing around the rockiest and ruttiest (hope that is the correct word for it!) terrain the Peak District has got to offer (and it is very rocky and rutty!!), this possible due to Mark's good fitness levels. By the end I think he had become immune to both rocks and ruts and nothing the Peak District could offer would make him bat an eyelid! Another great day with some great riding too.

Monday, 11 April 2011

Intermediate course 090411

How could you beat beautiful blue skies, warm temperature, dusty trails, two exceptional participants and no technical hiccups? I'm not sure but I think it's going to be hard to beat Saturdays intermediate course in terms of enjoyment and pleasure! Mike and Craig had both been riding for about a year and their core skills were quite good combined with good fitness. They managed to do some nice power assisted front wheel lifts on the first climb, a technique that was new to both of them, but it was when we moved on the wheelies I realized that these two were increadibly quick to learn new things. Within 5 minutes they were both wheeliing better than me! I'm gutted! And they both swore that they had never tried wheelies before.

After lunch we started the bunny hopping practise and here again they excelled. Mike had to remove his seatpost all togheter as due to the frame design he couldn't lower the seat at all to be able to get the most out of "pumping" the bike. After doing nice front and back wheel lifts separately he had a go at combining the two into a bunny hop and couldn't quite get the timing right. I then told him not to worry as most people really need to go home and practise for at least half an hour or more to start getting the timing and body movements right to reliably do nice bunny hops. I had hardly finished talking before he suddenly set off and bounced like a rabbit on steroids over the obstacles! I'm sure he would have cleared the neighbours jack russell had it remained standing in our way for long enough! Craig also progressed nicely on the bunny hops and found that he needed to practise the "pumps" a bit more as initially he was concentrating too much on the "up" bit and not enough on the compression of the bike.

The rest of the afternoon was spent thrill seeking as we did jumps off a ledge, and some proper steep slops and drops. Right at the end we took a little detour to practise tight turns in combination with obstacles as both Mike and Craig needed to look a bit further ahead to be able to take a good line down some steep steps.

A thoroughly enjoyable day that would be hard to improve (except for possibly a strategically placed ice cream van on the route!)
Cheers Emmy; a thoroughly enjoyable day; cracking weather and expert tuition :)

I put all of the tips to good use yesterday up at Rivington Pike and rode a lot of stuff I'd have winced at before. You've given me bags of confidence!
Like I said on the day, the way in which you delivered the training was exceptional and I'll certainly be recommending you to friends and family alike.
Thanks for the pics and the great blog. And the tea and cake :)
And just out of interest, what make/size were the tyres on your bike? I may invest in a pair myself :)
Thanks once again; you're a star! Will hopefully see you sometime in May :)
Kind Regards,

Sunday, 3 April 2011

Beginner's course 030411

I absolutely love proper beginners! Today I met Neil who had ridden for about 3 months and Michael who was off road for the first time on his brand new bike! Thankfully both knew how to ride a bike very well but also were completely open minded to learning all the core skills from scratch.

Michael's only experience came from watching videos on Youtube and with similar go-for-it attitude he showed no fear and rode everything without a moment of hesitation. When trying things for the first time and using the right techniques things seem very easy, it was therefore quite a good thing that Michael experienced a few crashes, not to put him off, but more to illustrate that it is quite a common occurrence to fall off when starting to ride off road and that is happens to all of us in the beginning. Thankfully he suffered no ill-effects and quickly got back on his bike for more action, even riding the big rooty drop in the end!

Neil on the other hand had already done his fair share of falling off in the months before the course and showed a slight tendency to want to use his brakes slightly too much. This improved for each time he rode an obstacle. First time slowly and cautiously and the second and third time allowing himself to gain more speed, building on his confidence each time until he was descending fast but in complete control. He also quickly mastered the power assisted front wheel lifts, a technique he hadn't been aware of until today, and with it managed climb best part of the slabby climb more aimed for the intermediate riders. He also rode the rooty drop, pushing the boundaries of what he would consider ridable further.

For both Michael and Neil knowing where to focus while riding proved possibly to be one of the most important skills they learnt on the course as it is crucial not only for turning but for descending, drops and singletrack too and absolutely essential if you want to be able to ride faster!

I'm very pleased with the progress of both these riders today having mastered everything on the course (and it is quite extensive!) and already look forward  to seeing Neil in June for the intermediate course and hopefully Michael too in the future!