Over the weekend I ran my first instalment of mountain bike camps. These are now a Pedal 2 Pedal tradition and usually book up really quickly! Saturday was no exception; I had 8 in my beginners group ranging from 4 to 9 in age and with a mixture of off-road experience from none at all to already riding the blue trail.
We started our sessions with the usual bike checks before heading up the fire road to the field once there we played some games looking at cornering and the ready position which are two core techniques used in mountain biking.
After a short snack break we used the field again to work on our techniques, talking about our breaks and how many fingers we should have covering them. Then it was time to put what they had learnt into practice, with a volunteer helper from my academy at the front and a volunteer mum at the back and me in the middle we made our way as a group down the blue trail, stopping at a switch back corner to have another go at our cornering technique before ending our adventure back near the car park.
Each rider received a certificate and I have had some great feedback with six out of the eight who wanting to come back for more.
“Thank you so much for the kids’ course on Saturday – they thoroughly enjoyed it. We did the blue route down after the course and came back on Sunday to do the whole blue route 1 & 1/2 times. The kids are keen and I am going get them out as much as possible.” Guy, Evie and Tristan’s Dad.
Next up was my academy group these riders come to coaching every week and I have coached some of them for four years. There is real team competitiveness between them and the Tuesday beforehand I had set them a front wheel lift challenge which many had already started to grasp. It’s great to see youngsters so keen to improve themselves in their sport and makes me feel very proud to coach such a great cycling club.
Our session looked at group riding using a game called jail break. I like this game because all riders have to communicate and work as a team to keep the ‘prisoner’ in jail so it adds something to a mountain bike session which can end up being all about your own skills, it brings the group together and makes them concentrate on being a team, a great life lesson as well as bike skill!
Afterwards we worked on our front wheel lifts and manuals. A lot of the riders can manual now using their upper body and momentum but a front wheel lift requires just a little more fineness and practise to master.
Once everyone had a good practise we hit the red trail with a volunteer Dad on the front and another in the middle I rode at the back so I could watch their riding style and give a few tips along the way, usually about heel position.
We have started riding ‘snake bites’ at Queen Elizabeth Country Park (QE Park) which is a series of switch back corners which take you down to the fire road, as it had rained they were a little slippery so we did half and then peeled off onto the blue descent to finish.
The team at QE Park have done an excellent job on working the trails and have created a great blue which the kids enjoy challenging themselves on.
The day came to an end with a few riders opting to race the Go Ride race at the QE Cycle Fest, a twisty course had been set up by British Cycling and I think my riders where still going round long after the racing was over!
If you would like your kids to join a mountain bike camp or would like to join an adults camp please get in touch.
Should you hire a coach?
Last year I raced the Bike Trans Alp a stage race from Austria to Italy over 7 days, climbing 19,000 metres. I had never raced anything like this before. I had never ridden the distances required on multiple days let alone raced it! Climbing alpine mountains was also a new challenge, but I was excited about pushing my limits and seeing what I was capable of.
One of the key factors in getting me ‘race’ fit was hiring Mark at Velo Coaching. As a cycling coach myself I understood the basic principles of training and the sorts of sessions I should be putting together, to increase my endurance and also my ability to climb economically, however I had no real idea in how to put this together as a training plan that would allow for recovery and the adaptation in my physiology that I needed.
Mark and I worked together to look at my daily commitments like working hours, my own cycling coaching sessions and time to spend with my family. From there we plotted what type of training I could do around this and added in some important recovery time.
Having a plan made it easy for me to focus on a day at a time and not get overwhelmed with the task ahead.
I am a self-motivated person and if I want something I am prepared to make sacrifices to make it happen, having said this, having a coach there to motivate me and analyse my progress was one of the most helpful tools. Every week Mark would look at my training and we would discuss over Training Peaks what was going well and what wasn’t. As a cycling coach myself I didn’t need hand holding through my sessions I just needed the structure to work within.
The Trans Alp bike race came round in July 2016 quicker than ever and as my Dad and I drove to Austria I felt prepared, safe in the knowledge I had put in as much training as I could manage and was as ready as I could be.
It was in the Autumn after returning from the alps I had an email from someone about coaching, they weren’t sure if they were ‘good enough’ to have a coach.
My experience is that having a coach can make a difference to the small things like, for example as I have a lot going on in my work it made the task of planning and analysing my training a weight off my mind, I new Mark was there working that out so all I had to do is put on my kit and go cycling and not put too much thought into the planning stage it was all laid out for me. I think also from a confidence point of view having a coach to say it’s okay if it doesn’t go well every race or you need to work harder on hill climbing.
My thoughts are if you want to get better at something then it takes practise and patients. Getting expert advice whether you’re looking to just feel more confident when you’re out riding with your family or you are aiming for a challenge, anyone can grow as a rider and become better with the guidance of a good cycling coach.
If you would be interested in me helping you, please get in touch.
I have never given / taken anything up for lent but this year my challenge is to ride to and from work at least once a week, so far so good!
For those of you who started out triumphantly giving up chocolate or bread this week and feel like 40 days is going to be a lot to bear, why not give up a cycling bad habit instead?
Here are my top four bad habits you could have ago at breaking.
- Not cleaning your bike after riding
Regularly cleaning and maintaining your bike reduces the impact of standard wear and tear and can lessen the chances of mechanical failures down the line. It also gives you an opportunity to check your bike over for any issues that may stop you riding next time you head to the shed.
- Going out unprepared for punctures
We’ve all been guilty of this one. About as far from home as your route allows and you suddenly feel like your dragging a dead weight, that awful feeling when you realise you have no puncture repair kit or pump… Even if your going out with friends who are usually ‘prepared’ you should be able to look after yourself. This leads nicely onto my next bad habit…
- Not knowing how to change an inner tube
I was rather shocked to find out my Mum, who is a budding road cyclist, has no idea how to change an inner tube. It is a simple skill and a vital one if you want to be independent when your cycling. I will do a video on this soon so watch this space and let me know if there are any other skills you would like to learn?
- Braking in a corner
The first rule of cornering is to scrub off all excess speed before you arrive at the corner, braking in the corner disrupts your flow and on the road can make your tyre grip less effective. My top tips to improve your technique are, scrub off all your speed before the corner, take the corner wide and head in towards the apex, when choosing your line take the straightest one possible. As you begin to exit the corner, keep looking ahead up the road to ensure you spot and anticipate any obstacles or hazards.
Thanks for reading, I hope you have enjoyed my blog post.
Imagine falling off your bike so badly that you’re scared to touch your brakes. This is exactly what happened to one of my clients. Now after two years she has decided to battle her fear and get back in the saddle with my help.
Pauline and I have been on a journey over several sessions to regain her confidence in cycling. At the start of her first session she would not use her brakes in a controlled way opting for pedalling backwards and slamming them on at the last minute which made her feel out of control.
I broke down braking into simple steps helping her think about the process of feathering her brakes to control her speed instead of pedalling backwards and gradually pulling them on to stop herself in a controlled manner. She also gripped the handle bars very tightly which was not helping her sharp braking. I told her to think about having a baby bird in each hand which she wouldn’t want to squash this helped her not grip so tightly and in return her braking was not so sharp and her upper body relaxed releasing some tension she was feeling.
When your confidence is knocked getting over the psychological barriers can be challenging. Fear is the mechanism our bodies use to keep us out of dangerous situations, a little fear can be good, as it stops you doing anything where you could put your life in danger, but there is a problem when fear takes over and makes you act irrationally. For example Pauline’s ‘fear’ of pulling on her brakes in case she goes over her handle bars means she has been trying not to brake or brake at the last moment baking her braking jerky and more likely to cause her an issue in the future.
To work through her fear we spoke about the three places Pauline would like to cycle to with her partner Brian, once she was back riding and also to recall positive memories from the past. I also have been helping her not think about the accident and instead look to her future cycling adventures which has also helped her go from saying ‘I would like to try and ride my bike again’ to ‘I will ride my bike again’ changing her mind-set has been really important and has helped us progress over a few sessions where Pauline now is happier riding around braking and passing others on her bike.
As a coach I am constantly looking for ways to help my clients get over their own challenges so they can get the most out of their cycling. I find visualisation of what they want to achieve really helpful and have also found his myself.
I am really proud of Pauline she has shown such determination and will-power to make her dream a reality, well done Pauline.
On Saturday I braved the wind and rain to take part in my Breeze level one ride leadership award. British Cycling’s Breeze campaign is to get more women into riding bikes for fun, the aim is to help women to feel confident and comfortable about riding bikes.
I decided as biking has opened so many doors for me that I would like to volunteer some of my time to help get other ladies on to their bikes! The training took part over the course of a day and incorporated class room lectures with out door practical sessions. It was fun and informative and was a great introduction to the sort of rides i could expect to run as a Breeze champion. I met lots of other Breeze ride leaders and it was a fantastic opportunity to network and build a base of riding buddies.
If you would like to find out more about becoming a ride leader and getting more women out on their bikes contact the Breeze network.
I will be running Breeze rides from April 2014 from Petersfield and the surrounding area please contact me if you are interested in joining firstname.lastname@example.org. Rides will be tailored to ability and can be off road or on road.