Great Rocking the Beast


I went down to Hope in the Peak District to run a skills day on natural trails on Saturday. The day was the idea of the guys from 18 Bikes in Hope, a great bike shop in the centre of some fantastic riding. Using the loose format of the Stop Crashing courses, that run on the man made trails of Gisburn Forest and Lee Quarry, the Peak day was all about looking at the fundamental skills of mountain biking. However there was a twist! I decided to run the course on one of the most technical descents in the Peak. It’s not called ‘The Beast’ for nothing, but by breaking it down into sections, walking through some lines, practicing first on easier sections and building flow and control rather than just trying to go fast, the group made some really good progression.

The riding experience of people in the group ranged from 3 months to many years. We looked at climbing skills, spent plenty of time on body position and looking well ahead and brought all the skills together as we practiced by sessioning the Beast.

After lunch at The Woodbine Cafe in Hope, and a visit to 18 Bikes for some TLC to a couple of the bikes, we went to Pindale Quarry, where we practiced more skills and laid down some MASSIVE SKIDS.

This special course will be happening again soon. Keep an eye on the site for details.

Thanks to Rich Sulley for the photos.

Chin Up

Be A Better Rider – Part 1 from Singletrack Magazine on Vimeo.

I went riding at Foel Gasnach in Wales yesterday with Jon Woodhouse from Singletrack and he shot and edited up this video. He asked me what one thing I would show people if I only had a couple of minutes to improve their riding. It’s the first in a series of bike tips that he will be producing as an online feature for the Singletrackworld site. We had fun riding the different tracks and also managed to include a photoshoot for the flat pedal group test that we have been doing. This will also go out soon as an online test.

Some great feedback about the Women’s Stop Crashing course…..

From The Dash, the journal of the Darwen Dashers

Stop Crashing, Start Riding ……

……… said the strapline for the mountain biking skills course. Perfect for myself and Ms Ducky, with
several years worth of falling off mountain bikes under our belts. We opted for a women only course,
hoping that our fellow participants might be as soft as us. Sunday morning saw 6 of us duly assembled
at the Dog and Partridge, Tosside, eyeing each other nervously and wondering if we might be out of
our depth. Our course leader, Ed, plied us with hot coffee and reassured us. Then came a thorough
check of our trusty steeds, to make sure none of us was riding a death trap. A few minor tweaks and
the bikes all passed the MOT. But would the riders?

We headed off into Gisburn forest, and rode a nice blue trail, which I think we all found quite easy. So,
straight into smug mode. This was short lived till we went back over it, one by one in short sections,
under Ed`s beady eye. No hiding place. Between us we clocked up the full set of riding sins (sitting
like a bag of spuds, locked out arms, inappropriate braking, crap cornering, not looking far enough
ahead, leaping off the bike at a tricky bit etc. etc. etc.). We practised the sections, getting better and
better and better, with lots of useful feedback from Ed. We also enjoyed watching other riders run the
gauntlet past us with a full running commentary from Ed. It was nice to discover that 90% of them
were probably worse than us, even though they went fast and looked pretty impressive to our untrained
eyes. Then we learned track stands. Quite a bit of homework needed on this one.

After a slap up lunch and post mortem in the Dog and Partridge, we moved up to a red trail in the after-
noon. Here we practised “flowing” over rough stuff and rolling over small drops, some bigger berms
and tighter corners. Ed`s demos of how to “flow” were a thing of beauty and a goal to aspire to. We
were probably a tad less beautiful, but spiced things up with a few interesting tumbles and some choice
swear words. But we practised the sections, analysed why some things worked and others didn`t, and
got better and better and better. The riding ended with a brilliant swoopy singletrack through the forest
and a race to the pub (we won). A celebratory pint in the Dog and Partridge made a perfect end to a
cracking day.

Ed was a brilliant instructor. He got the measure of us all very quickly and pitched the level of the day
perfectly. He inspired confidence and explained and showed things in a way that made sure you just
“got it”. The balance of challenge and support was just right, and we got lots of personalised feedback.
We all came away with improved riding skills, increased confidence and some specific areas to work
on to improve further. £60 well spent. By next year`s Ale Wobble we will be totally transformed.
Meanwhile, if you come across a couple of glamorous Dashettes, flowing across the moors and down
the trails with supreme skill and confidence . . . . . . . . . . . . . . it probably won`t be us. Yet.

Happy pedalling.

Sue Taylor and Sue Ducky