Monthly Archives: November 2012

Winter riding update

I’m disappointed.

I’ve not really upped my riding from the usual Sunday morning to include early morning and nights. I want to but I seem to have barely enough time to get all the normal life things done. I feel like I’m putting on some weight as well but I guess winter can do that

Last Sundays ride was a proper winter outing though. Started off dry when I left home, started the tiniest bit of drizzle on the way to meet up. gradually got heavier as the ride went on. The trails were 7/10 on the muddy scale resulting in a couple of dabs through the woods where it got tricky. Pete lost his front wheel and ended up in a ditch. I was covered in mud, soaking wet and a bit cold.

The key to enjoying riding in the mud is to keep up your momentum. At one point I dropped behind Pete on a muddy section after I dabbed and riding at my normal pace wasn’t closing the gap. Dropping a couple of gears and spinning back up to my normal 95 cadence made a dramatic difference. The bike squirmed around with both front and rear sliding but keeping the speed up  and your vision well ahead means it soon recovers. Slight downhill sections become great fun as the bike slithers all over the place and rather than catching up on the path after the section feeling tired, I was on his wheel during the downhill and ended up grinning like a child.

Strava ride log

A great ride – the cold, wet, muddy ones tend to be.

Coaching, the best upgrade you can buy.

I’ve been riding bikes since I was a kid and mountain bikes for 25 years. I’ve raced, ridden trail centres and headed out for a days with a map and hours to enjoy.

I’ve learnt all the techniques from riding and experience (maybe falling off as well) as well as reading magazines and watching and talking to people far better than I am.

So having gone all this time with no coaching, I’ve had 2 cracking sessions in the past year. The session a few weeks ago has given me a whole new focus on riding so I thought it was worth writing up a few thoughts. Good coaches are hard to find and reputation and word of mouth is by far the best way to find someone

Earlier this year I used a voucher my lovely wife bought me for Christmas with Peaks Outdoor coaching. I opted for a whole day 1-on-1 session up in the peaks to help with my mental block of riding my full suss Yeti ASR down rocky descents at a speed faster than a snail (maybe a slight exaggeration…).

I had a specific goal in mind and once we found a few sections that I wasn’t confident on to tweak my approach. The result was exactly what I was after as  my confidence was vastly improved, I picked up a few tips and was much faster as a result.

Earlier this year a mate booked us a group session with Tony at UK Bike Skills. We were a mixture of ability and experience from decades of MTBing to a couple of years yet we all progressed, learnt new skills and mentally came away changed men.

What makes a good coach?

Tony is a good coach.

He is often called ‘Jedi’ which is entirely appropriate as his approach is very much a mental one. He understands people, what makes them tick, how they learn, what they are scared off and how they are progressing.  A good coach doesn’t just run through the manual of how to ride, they tailor the techniques to each person.

There is no time limit to the session, it ends when we can’t ride any longer be it mental/physical tiredness or a lack of light and the training doesn’t stop on the day as he is open to you getting in touch afterwards.

I can’t go into his techniques but they work. At the start of the day we were doing small drop offs next to a 6ft table top that we all agreed we would never ride. Come the end of the day we had all cleared it plus the gap jump.

All coaching is good if it works for the person being coached. Tony makes sure that the way you learn is built into how he approaches the session. Many people find it mentally tiring as there is a lot to take in and think about but it’s probably the single biggest leap forward in my riding that I’ve made ever. Local trails are now being ridden with a different perspective, bikes have been set-up differently and my biking mojo has been given an always welcome boost.

The write up of our session has more details and I can’t recommend a session with Tony. It’s the best upgrade you can possibly make to your riding.

Read the coaching Blog.