Anyone can be a passenger on a bike. Like with any sport to become more confident and able it’s a good idea to get professional coaching. On a blustery April weekend eight women from across the UK descended on the South Downs to improve their mountain bike skills. I teamed up with local guide Sean Howell from Marmalade Mountain Biking to deliver a fun weekend of biking, good food and Pilates, all that was missing was sunshine!
The weekend started with coaching from Queen Elizabeth Country Park, the home of my mountain bike club, Pedal 2 Pedal. The ladies worked on the fundamental bike skills, balance, body position and cornering. Getting your body into the right position and being able to move around the bike is a key skill when riding a mountain bike, you need to be able to flow down the trail keeping your movements free and not jerking the bike around which happens with bad technique and a lack of confidence because you tend to be more ridged.
Lunch was provided by a local chef who served up a beautiful selection of salads, pastries and of course cake to keep even the hungriest of riders satisfied. After lunch the girls hit the new blue trail at Queen Elizabeth Country Park to put their new found skills to the test.
Kaz who took part said
“I had an amazing weekend of Ladies MTB tuition with Hannah, it was so much more than had expected! I chose this 2 day course to regain confidence after a mishap 18 months ago. I learned new skills riding off little drops and riding burms. Hannah explained things well and gave great support to achieve riding skills on the mountain bike which in turn created lots of smiles. With a wonderful lunch and meeting like-minded ladies all achieving something from the course.
My confidence just grew and grew with day 2 riding the South Downs lots of ups and amazing downs putting all that we had learned to the test. With Hannah and Sean guiding and supporting us all the way. I feel very fortunate to have found Hannah to open my eyes to new adventures on the bike. With many thanks I am one very happy lady to be back out into the countryside.”
Another key aspect of cycling is body conditionning and core stability, the girls were treated to a private Pilates class in Rowlands Castle by local Pilates instructor Stacey Merritt after winding down the girls were ready for a pub lunch and to talk all things bike.
Bright and early Sunday they headed to Cocking Hill on the South Downs to meet with local mountain bike guide and trail expert Sean from Marmalade MTB. Sean took the girls on a whistle stop tour of some of the best trails and viewpoints along the South Downs including The Goodwood Estate, Kingly Vale and the Hooksway.
The weekend was designed for ladies who have a little experience off road but wanted to increase their ability and go somewhere new to explore. They all left with smiles on their faces and a new enthusiasm for mountain biking one they will hopefully share with their friends. My aim is to get more women out on bikes and introduce them to this fantastic sport. This is hopefully the first of many weekends Sean and I will run.