Over the last few weeks I’ve got back to doing some longer enduro type events solo. I’ve done them in the past, but these have been the first chance since my accident to try something a bit longer and see how I go.
While I can still manage six or twelve hour events as a pair or team I must admit I struggled to do the longer distances on my own at a race pace and didn’t go the full distance I signed up for at the Gorrick and at QECP.
Still I suppose I’ve always known it would be a long journey back to fitness and I recognise I have a lot of work to do. It’s nice to get a benchmark for where I am now and now I can move on and concentrate on getting stronger.
Not that it will stop me racing of course as I have made a long and illustrious career of making up the numbers
The Gorrick 100 route – Very tough course, but an awful lot of fun in the twisty singletrack
The QECP Enduro was awesome, but there was a lot of climbing! Also though there was a lot of sweet singletrack that brought out some gung ho descending!
It’s fair to say I was rather tired when I finished!!
Patrick got in touch, he was looking for a bit of extra flow on the trails and also to sort out his hops and drops too. The weather was looking a bit dodgy, but fortunately cleared on the way to Stanmer and we were treated to some sun, even though it was extremely windy.
After a quick chat we headed off onto the trail and climbed up onto the Big Dog side of Stanmer. We started with a quick adjustment to Patrick’s brake lever position and let a bit of air out of his tyres too as they were a little hard for the conditions. We started in the singletrack for a skills assessment, then moved on to discussing body position and worked on the various aspects of cornering technique.
Stanmer Park looked absolutely stunning today, the bluebells are all out and look incredible at the moment, get up there quickly…
Stanmer Park bluebells
After a few runs down “wide out” we moved on to “rail the roots” adding in the various aspects of cornering technique. Then we moved on to the steeper still “derelict downhill” which is a great test for looking and braking. That done we headed over to the university side to tackle “community coppicing” further cementing the cornering techniques we had covered.
We spent a bit of time looking at manualling and rear wheel lifts, putting it together into the bunnyhop, then we moved on to pumping the trail for a bit of free speed. Then we rode “buzz lightyear” putting it all together.
We moved on to the “witches table” and Patrick used the manualling technique to tackle a small drop before moving on to one of the medium sized ones.
We hired Jim to coach our teams competing in an adventure race, during which he lead skills sessions and guided rides throughout a bitterly cold winter.
FitBitch group coaching
He was fantastic, managing to provide calm coaching guidance and fantastic routes to a group of women of varying skills levels, which is no mean feat. Despite the cold, wintry early mornings and handling a group of women who at some points sang show tunes while whizzing down the single track Jim took it all in his pedal cycle.
Good coaching is never just about your skill set, but about one’s ability to get on with people and motivate each person according to their personality trait and Jim was great. Plus, he likes cake which always went down well with us post ride.
At Fitbitch Performance, we will definitely be using Jim’s services again.
The idea was to build my confidence and ability to help me get the best from my bike. Jim had a good ability to watch and point out little things to improve my riding without labouring his point making the session all the more enjoyable.
After 3 hours with Jimbo I felt confident to tackle some downhill tracks I would never have tried by myself. As a teacher Jim is great and teaches practical skills step by step moving on quickly as soon as you pick something up.
He is good at building confidence and putting you at ease with both himself and the bike you are riding. Confidence inspiring to note that he started off the session by checking over my bike set up.
I would recommend booking a lesson for any beginner or intermediate rider as it gives you so much more confidence and therefore enjoyment than you would get just trying to pick up the skills by yourself.
I would also imagine that more seasoned riders would be able to benefit from Jim’s considerable experience as well, all put across in his very able, laid back manner.
Very highly recommended, feel much more confident and have a realistic view of my ability and what I could safely tackle.
Piotr got in touch, he’s only been riding since last year and he’d had an ‘incident’ on one of the local singletracks which had dented his confidence and spoilt his flow on the trails.
As we rode up to the first singletrack we discussed what he wanted to get out of the session and when we got up top we started with bike set up. After making some adjustments to his brake lever position we then talked about tyre pressures, Piotr has had a lot of trouble with punctures and was running his tyres really hard to try and compensate, obviously this also has a really negative effect on grip and comfort too though, so we let some air out.
We moved on to body position on the bike and then started adding in all the various elements for cornering, gradually moving on to slightly more complicated trails as we went. After getting the basics down we then rode round to the university side to continue on some slightly more difficult singletracks.
Then we worked on unweighting the front wheel and manualling over obstacles before doing the Buzz Lightyear trail several times, each time adding in more of the elements we had worked on. Piotr began to feel the flow a bit more and we had a couple of good runs.
Pumping the trail
Then we went down to Roller Coaster and Roller Coaster II and worked on pumping the bike over trail obstacles for a bit of extra speed.
I first visited Swinley Forest in the early nineties, I’ve done many races and many rides there over the years and know it reasonably well. There has been lots of talk on the ‘usual’ internet forums since it has been announced that Swinley would be becoming more of a recognised trail centre with waymarked routes. Most of the criticism was centre around the fact that most of the legacy trails would be made unrideable once the work on the new ones was finished therefore restricting MTB’ers to the waymarked route.
I don’t pretend for a minute to know all the trails there and I dare say there will be locals who are disappointed with the way it has gone. However I’d say what has been created here is really good. Doing the red and blue routes together gives you about 16 miles and it’s fair to say the bulk of it is on singletrack.
Certainly from my perspective the red route contained an awful lot of the trails I used to ride anyway, in addition to that there were an awful lot of bits of trails from Gorrick races I had done in the past, so it was a trip down memory lane in places!
All in all we had a great day out and would recommend a visit to anyone….
Simon and Jordan got in touch, as newcomers to mountainbiking they’ve decided to kick it off by riding the South Downs Way over a three day period. So they were keen to get off on the right foot by getting started with a skills session.
We headed out onto the singletrack for the skills check and after a few short sections we stopped to discuss body positioning. They had hired bikes for the day and the tyres were pumped up way too hard, so we talked about the effects of tyre pressure and made a few adjustments to help in the slippery conditions. Body position sorted we tried the same piece of trail again and they both felt the increase in confidence and control immediately.
We moved onto cornering technique working through the various aspects, then on to climbing too, before heading over to the university side to tackle some of the more interesting trails.
We recapped the cornering techniques and rode “community coppicing” a great trail for practice, slightly more downhill so you can really concentrate on the techniques rather than pedalling. Then we tackled unweighting the front wheel and manualling, after a few good goes we finished off by riding “Buzz Lightyear”, again recapping everything we had done.