Skills & Spills at Swinley

17 08 2009

The ladies who’ve been joining me on rides throughout the year wanted some skills development so I arranged a day at Swinley with Rachel Davey from www.getagripmountainbiking.co.uk .  I’d previously had some tuition with Rachel and it’d worked wonders; I knew our new lady riders would feel the same and Swinley is a good place to hone those skills.

Meeting at Crowthorne Woods bright and early, and even after a 2hr drive, Lisa, Sue, Fran, Karen, Rachel and Evie were very excited about the day ahead.  A few partners came along too and Jay and Andy from Tunnel Hill Trolls MTB club very kindly wore the Boyz out with a 3hr non-stop blast round the singletrack. 

So with the Boyz despatched we trundled into the woods to play at a slower pace and get back to basics.  Learning how to brake efficiently with front and back brakes, moving about on the bike & body position, pedalling technique, hill climbing & energy efficiency, the ‘ready for anything’ position and the 4 C’s.  The girls deciding these were Commitment, Courage, Confidence and Concealer!  (the latter essential to hide unsightly bruises-lol). 

With everyone buoyed up from Rachel’s instructions and the confidence it was giving, we headed off into our first bit of singletrack to try out newfound skills and then headed to The Quarry to learn how to drop in.  Starting off small we were all soon rolling in with confidence, remembering to get feet in the right position and look up the trail.  Graduating to the biggest drop in of the day, which had a lip on the exit to negotiate too, was when trouble struck.  Eyeing it up with trepidation everyone started having a go.  Remembering courage, commitment, concentration where’s that concealer because it was bang, slam, whallop; Sue faceplanted into the bank on the exit.  Ouch! 

Dusting herself off, and luckily with no injuries except a face full of dirt, attention turned to her bike.  Totally pringled front wheel !  Rachel managed to get the pringle out but it was knackered and a slow limp home was all it was capable of.  We were near the end of the session so we split; Rachel taking the girls on a final downhill run back to the cars and me and Sue slowly making our way back with her one brake.  But it was a good excuse to have a slow race to improve balance and brake control along the way. 

Jumping in the cars we headed to The Lookout for a bite of lunch and to meet up with Gayle from Tunnel Hill Trolls who’d very kindly offered to lead us round Swinley in the afternoon.  Brilliant news for Sue, the hire shop had a bike available, her day wasn’t ruined.  So we  joined up into one group and went out for a 2hr ride.  The trails were brilliant as always, dry and fast rolling, tight and twisty through the trees, a new bermed section keeping you on your toes and an unusual bit of woodwork with a handrail, the reason for it’s existence?  Who knows; but elf & safety was mentioned!  We lost a few along the way due to mechanicals and fatigue but everyone rode brilliantly and confidence was flying high by the time we got back, even if energy levels were now fully expired. 

A quick refuel on cake and tea for the journey home and the air was buzzing about the riding and what had been learnt.  For many it was the first real taste of mountainbiking proper on decent singletracks.  Fears were left behind, confidence was increased and the smiles were massive.  A successful day in everyway.  Big thanks go to Rachel, Jay and Gayle for helping me make our day a fab one.  I know everyone who attended thoroughly enjoyed themselves.  Don’t forget you’re all welcome to join us on the South Downs for a recriprocal ride at any time.  Lisa

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