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Balance MTB Course Updates - Winter 2021

Winter photos while mountain biking are always spectacular because of the cooler, thicker air bending the colours within the light a lot more than in summer

Well, after a little bit of a break it's time to get back into helping people ride, surprise COVID lockdowns not withstanding! Winter is always a fantastic time to get on the trails on the Gold Coast and generally in the South East Queensland region. Although the days are a bit shorter, you can ride pretty much at anytime of the day without dying from heat exhaustion, which is just awesome (anyone that has suffered from riding in summer will know what I'm talking about).

Hopefully by now you might have noticed that there are a few new course additions that I've been working on for a while - and if you haven't, that's okay because you're about to. It's been a long road to getting onto finishing the curriculums for these new clinics. There's a bit of thought and planning that goes into the creation of these clinics though which is why it doesn't happen very often. And there will likely be some tweaking on the day as the new clinics are run and I get some feedback - but I'm pretty confident that it will help address some of the gaps that people currently have from doing the current three week courses.

Return of the Single Session Clinics

I've previously run single session clinics, initially focussed on a specific skill and then moving onto splitting the three week programs into single session clinics. These worked okay, but I found the skills clinics a bit limiting in helping riders improve while allowing riders to join a specific session of a three week program often found the.... I'll call them interlopers.... often struggling to keep up with participants that were doing the whole program.

The single session Just Drops Skills Clinic often meant that riders didn't necessarily have a solid base of core skills to attempt parts of the clinic with (no people went over the bars during this session though!)

Rather than focusing on specific skills or taking the materials from existing programs, this time I've focused on creating clinics that work on the practical application of what you have learnt on the three week programs out on specific features on the trails. What this also means is that for a given Grade Level, even if you haven't completed a relevant program, provided you have the right riding experience you'll still be able to attend and benefit from a clinic.

These new clinics will also be done out on trails further away from where the three week clinics are normally run, partially to help you explore trails you might not have previously ridden but also to help you tackle features that you might be nervous on but are more comfortable attempting with a little bit of guidance and supervision. The other important thing to note is that instead of two hours (although admittedly classes have been going for a bit longer lately), the trail clinics are three hours long to give us the time to explore a bit further without being pressed for time... maybe.

As the name implies, this particular trail clinic is an extension of the Core Skills B Line three week program. It's specifically designed to help riders make that transition from easy blue trails to tackling ones with more challenging features by using the skills learnt in the Core B program. Getting over those nerve racking logs and handling more rocky, rooty and narrow trails that you commonly find in the Nerang mountain bike park are a few of the things that get focused on during this trail clinic. This trail clinic will also take you on trails that you might not regularly ride on, in directions you may not usually go. But that's just part of the fun of mountain biking!

You can find out a bit more on the Core Skills B X trail clinic by downloading the course curriculum

At the Grade 2 Core B level you have the skills to tackle this sort of trail without needing a full face helmet, but if you're still a bit nervous about it this is the sort of thing that we'll go through on the Core Skills B X Clinic

Well, I know people have been waiting for me to pull this particular program together for a while so apologies for taking so long. Obviously, as the name implies the Core Skills Electric trail clinic is focused on helping you get the most out of riding an e-bike out on the trails by helping you better understand the nuances of e-bike vs analogue mountain bike riding.

If you're wondering why a trail clinic rather than a three week course, the short answer is because the fundamentals of mountain bike skills are still exactly the same on an e-bike as they are on a non-pedal assist one. What often ends up being different is the practical application of those core mountain bike skills and techniques out on the trails under power - which is why I've chosen to hold Core Skills Electric as a trail clinic.

A lot of the Core E clinic will actually focus on pedalling techniques in a variety of different situations - since that's when you obviously get the assistance, and how that may change your riding style from normal analogue riding. I'll also be discussing techniques to maximise your range (as I actually quite regularly fully drain a battery) and handling your bike in situations that you may find more challenging due to an e-bike's weight (like running out of power!).

You can find out a bit more on the Core Skills Electric trail clinic by downloading the course curriculum

Not banging your motor while getting over logs - very much one of those e-bike riding things

Possible Future Trail Clinics

I'm still contemplating a Core Skills Advanced Extension Trail clinic for those riders that have finished the Core Skills A Line program and are looking to close the gap of riding experience before moving onto the Flow Skills program. This is likely to be one that focuses on practical drops and jumps out on the trails, becoming more confident with using these techniques in other situations beyond the front part of the Nerang mountain bike park. Unfortunately Nerang isn't great for these types of features at the moment - at least not in a semi-controlled environment which is why I haven't progressed very far yet. I'm not entirely sure the interest will be there either but if this is something that's important to you let me know and I'll get organised. I may also work on a Flow style trail clinic that would fit in between the Flow Skills B Line and A Line program, although I should probably finish the rewrite of the Flow Skills A Line program first. But a Flow trail clinic would be focused on helping you learn to apply the Flow Skills principles to ride smoothly through more challenging trails. The trails I'm thinking of however are further out the back of Nerang so these would likely be longer than 3 hours.

Learning how to flow on technical trails really expands the fun factor of mountain biking for most people

The Normal Stuff

You can expect the normal three week course programs to continue without any change at the moment. As I've previously mentioned I'm working on running each program once every three to four months at the moment. Because most of the courses are run with a small number of participants (I've previously found that even with two coaches, people get more out of a class if the groups are small), occasionally a program will book out so I may schedule an additional course shortly after one is run such as the August Core Skills B-Line program, but that doesn't happen too often these days. The current schedule of programs looks like this:

For those of you that haven't been mountain biking yet but want to give it a try, the Gold Coast City Council sponsored Active and Health programs will be continuing on as well this financial year, starting from next quarter. I'm just finalising a few more details before finaling the scheduling so expect to see them up soon.

One of the mainenance clinics I've held in the past. They take a bit of organising but if there's sufficient interest I might be able to run them again.

So that's the latest on the up and coming courses and clinics. As always, if there's some sort of skills development or riding that you think I'm not covering let me know and I'll see what I can do. I know a few of you have asked me about a basic maintenance and trail side repair clinic which I have run in short sessions previously - if that is something of interest let me know and I'll think about potentially putting something together on that again.

Otherwise, see you out on the trails!

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