top of page
  • Writer's pictureMal

2022 Balance Mountain Bike Course and Program Updates

2022 has been a busy year for me, but not because of mountain bike coaching. I had intended to do less coaching for the first half of this year so I could do some serious revamping of everything to improve how the lessons and skills sessions all fit together. Unfortunately my adult job has been all consuming this year and has taken even more of my time than normal (and seriously - who even knew that would be possible!). But time waits for nobody so I thought I'd share the progress that I've made to date and get all the coaching programs kicked off again.

Gold Coast City Council Active and Healthy Programs

I want to firstly thank the team from the Active and Healthy program for the Gold Coast for being strong supporters of getting people to try out mountain biking (because we all know how good it is for your physical fitness, confidence and mental health). I'm happy to say that they're continuing to sponsor the Balance Active and Healthy mountain bike programs for another year.

The Active and Healthy programs are always a blast to run. Introducing new riders to the trails and seeing how much people enjoy riding out in nature always brings out some smiles.

There's no real changes to the existing programs - they're still for people who have limited to no experience out on the trails to get them riding safely and enjoying nature on two wheels. We have decided to return to running the Come and Try 3 Week program and the Junior Skills Sessions back to 4 times a year rather than 3 to give more riders an opportunity to try out mountain biking.

We're also adding a new program - a "Girls Only Mountain Bike Confidence" course, a two week program for females 8 years an dup to be run twice in the next financial year. In my years of coaching what I've generally found is that when you're starting out, it can be quite intimidating for female riders starting out to ride with males that can be... well, let's just say louder than their counterparts. But once they start realising what they're capable of girls and women a like also start exploring the limits of what they once thought was impossible. And it doesn't take long before expressions of nervousness and fear are replaced with confidence and excitement.

Abi is one of the main inspirations for creating the Girls Only Mountain Bike Confidence Course. It was inspiring watching her come out of her shell and embrace mountain bike riding.

I haven't worked out the full details of the 2 week course yet but expect to see them out shortly, along with the the dates for the next round of all of the Active and Healthy Programs. For the moment, the current programs that are scheduled are:

Core Mountain Bike Skills Programs

It's still early days but I'm still reasonably happy about the amalgamation of the Intro to Mountain Bike Skills and Core Skills B Line Programs into the Mountain Bike Confidence Course. While there's a curriculum the intent of the course is to help people with areas of their riding where they want to become more confidence, without necessarily focussing hardcore on the skill side of things. So for those that do join this course, expect a few questions on how I can help you become more confident in those areas that might just be challenging you a bit on the trails.

The Core Mountain Bike Riding Skills replaces the Core Skills A-Line program but for all intensive purposes, they are actually one in the same course. Focussing on key mountain bike riding skills including introducing you to how to jump and drop effectively, this course is about equipping you with the technique to progress your riding to the next level and historically is probably the most popular program I run. The current dates for these programs are:

Skills Clinics

I do tend to jump around with the single session Skills Clinics a bit while I try and figure out what people are after as this tends to change over time. But after a few requests I've decided to have a dedicated session to help people refresh their jumping and dropping skills - or introduce them to the basic techniques for those that have never had coaching in these areas. Jumping and dropping skills do tend to fall by the way side if they're something you don't practice very often so I'm hopeful that by holding this particular clinic a little bit more regularly riders will build their confidence to learn how to fly.

The Refresher and Skills Clinics can be adapted on the fly to suit the skill levels of everyone that joins.

While I will tend to tell people that riding an e-bike is not so different to a normal mountain bike for most things, I have discovered over the years that learning a few e-bike specific skills can help you ride more confidently and capably. For the most part it comes down to understanding why you ride a bike with power assisted pedalling differently and how to adapt core skills to make the most out of riding an e-bike. Ultimately, there are definitive things that you can learn that will help your confidence on an e-bike out on the trails which is why I've decided to continue on with this particular skills session.

The other skills clinic I'm intending to bring back is on that focuses on refreshing your cornering skills and techniques. Cornering well is actually one of my favourite things to do on a mountain bike - and becoming great at this skill has many benefits from a confidence and mental aspect of riding. Expect to see the details of this clinic come up soon, but for the moment the current Skills Clinics that are available are the:

Flow Skills Programs

Finding the right balance of building technical skills and confidence can be challenging but well worth it for your riding.

The Flow Skills level programs are the Grade 4 and 5 courses that I will occasionally run, but nowhere near as frequently as the other programs. Historically they've been quite technically focussed, taking inspiration from trials based riding skills. However one of the challenges of these skills is that they do require a fair amount of practice in between the weekly sessions to become confident in them (at least that was the case when I was focussed on learning them myself. Now having an adult job through the week I have a much better appreciation of how difficult it is for most people to get that practice in so I've been working on revamping these programs to make these programs more relevant.

One of the other things I've realised over the years is that while students that would join some of my programs could pick up the skills technically, confidence in riding at speed was something that a number of riders would continue to struggle with. With that in mind, I've re-written the Grade 4 program and am replacing the old Flow Skills B Line program with Riding with Speed and Flow. The focus of this course will be to help students ride at speed with more confidence (and without crashing) by taking the core skills learnt in earlier courses and practically applying them on the trails. I haven't gotten around to scheduling the first of these courses yet but you can check out the course curriculum here: Riding with Speed and Flow Course Curriculum.

Unfortunately I haven't had a chance to really decide what the Grade 5 program will be about just yet. At this point in time I'm leaning towards something that has a few technical / trails skills but also that is more focused on helping riders become more confident with descending some of the more challenging black trails that are around Nerang. My challenge is working out a way that does this in a safe way, as things can become - let's say very entertaining very quickly on some of those trails. But I am working on it so hopefully a replacement for the Flow Skills A Line program isn't too far away.

Other Sessions and Activities

Riding out to Lost World is always a great experience.

It's been a long while since I've organised any of the fund raising trail rides, mainly because it does actually take some coordination to do that properly. And if I'm being honest, I probably won't get to it this side of Christmas so instead I'll just be periodically posting where I plan to be riding from time to time with an open invitation to join me. So they won't be formal rides - just social ride which I can tailor for any skill level depending on who wants to join me.

Another thing I periodically get asked about is organising rides for juniors. This is something I've historically stayed away from, partially because the Gold Coast Mountain Bike Club was (and I think still is) doing some rides for juniors, but also because it can be hard to cater for the variety of skill levels that juniors have. I have, though, been approached again by a few parents about having a few regular sessions for young riders in that 10-12 year old bracket - old enough to start pushing the envelope but not quite mature enough to be out riding on their own. I'm considering doing something in this area so if it's of interest let me know and I'll see what I can do.

As always, I'm open to helping riders with most things to help their confidence with riding out on the trails. If there is a particular course or session you'd like to see created (or run again) let me know and I'll get it organised.

See you out on the trails!

73 views0 comments


bottom of page