Can you believe it's Spring already? The year just seems like it's flying past. The days are beginning to get longer and the weather a touch warmer. Well, at least on most days anyway. And as much as winter provides some nice, cool conditions to get out onto the trails, with Spring and Autumn combine great riding temperatures with slightly longer days to provide even more opportunities for you to get out on your mountain bike.
For those that are interested in working on their riding skills, during Spring pretty much every three week program is scheduled to be run this quarter, with the exception of the Flow Skills A-Line course - more on that later. I've also managed to squeeze on one of the three hour trail refresher sessions into Spring. Unfortunately what this also means is that due to the number of programs being run, it's unlikely I'll be able to squeeze in any other trail rides in such as the one out to Lost World during this period unless one of the courses cancels. That may change but at this stage the current schedule listed a bit further below is unlikely to shift.
Before I get onto the programs I'll just touch on 1:1 coaching - and the answer is yes I do them. It's not something I promote, not because I don't enjoy doing them but mostly because I'm not really looking for additional work. The courses I run keep me pretty busy and in my mind provide better value than 1:1 sessions. That said, I can appreciate that the timing of the classes don't always suit everyone and some people just prefer the singular focus on specific areas they want to work on.
Because I'm not chasing 1:1 coaching, if you enquire with me you'll probably find I'll ask you a bunch of questions to learn more about what help you think you need with your riding, which if I'm being honest probably scares some people away. But I do want to make sure that I can help you in a structured manner rather than making it up as I go on the day. You might find it's easier to engage with other coaches and in my book that's great - as long as you're getting the help you're after, that's the most important thing. But if you work with me I will attempt to get you out of your comfort zone to help you improve your riding. Sometimes people aren't comfortable with being uncomfortable...
Anyway, onto the programs.
Balance Spring Programs
So the current activity list in order of when they're being run is as follows:
If you want to know a bit more about each activity read on below.
Core Skills A X Trail Clinic
Who is it for: Riders that have completed the Core Skills A-Line course or who already have a solid foundation of core skills and want to work on some of those skills in a practical environment. Also students that want a bit of a lead into the Flow Skills B-Line program.
What does it focus on: A refresher of key core skills before we head out onto the trails to work on small jumps and drops, cornering with flow and obstacle clearing on the trails. There's a bit of flexibility within the session to focus on specific areas that participating students want to work on.
What fitness level is recommended: You should be able to ride at least 10 to 15 km. The ride itself starts by heading up the Three Sisters fire road which is a decent climb in itself, but won't be the only climb of the day.
Flow Skills B-Line Sessions
Who is it for: Riders that have completed the Core Skills programs or who already have a solid foundation of core skills and want to work on combining their core skills to handle more advanced skills and challenging trail situations.
What does it focus on: Advanced body balance techniques, wheel lifting techniques including an introduction to bunny hopping, riding more technical climbs and steeper descents, handling larger drops and progressing jumping techniques. The final session focuses on taking those skills and applying them in more challenging environments.
What fitness level is recommended: You should be able to ride at least 10 to 15 km. The final session can be up to three hours long which when combined with the skills aspect can test the fitness of students.
Active and Healthy Junior Mountain Bike Skills Program
Who is it for: Juniors between the ages of 6-12 that have little to no riding experience on the trails. They will need to be able to ride a bike though. Parents are also welcome to join in the session! Lately we've had some repeat students so if this happens we may break up the class into two groups depending the skill levels of riders that join.
What does it focus on: Basic balance and key skills to make sure kids can ride safely out on the trails while successfully avoiding trees and having fun while doing so.
What fitness level is recommended: We structure the session for pretty much all fitness levels. The session includes a short ride out on the trails but to date we haven't had any juniors that have struggled with that part.
Core Skills B-Line Sessions
Who is it for: Riders that have been enjoying getting out green and easy blue trails but are a bit initimdated about trying out more challenging trails and want to build up their base skills and confidence to progress their riding further.
What does it focus on: Body balance techniques, skills to climb and descend basic technical terrain, cornering techniques and being able to handle technical features commonly found on trails.
What fitness level is recommended: While there are a few hills to ride up during each session, provided you're able to ride about 5-10km out on the trails you should be fine.
Active and Healthy Come and Try Mountain Biking
Who is it for: Cyclists that have never ridden off road before and want to learn a few key skills before they set out on the trails to figure out whether or not they'll enjoy mountain biking (but we know you will!)
What does it focus on: Bike safety checks, basics of using a mountain bike while riding off road, an introduction to body balance and key riding techniques to keep you safe out on the trails.
What fitness level is recommended: As long as you can pedal a bike you'll be fine. The trail parts of the session are all ridden at a social pace to challenge you but in a comfortable way!
Core Skills A-Line Sessions
Who is it for: Riders that have been enjoying the challenge of intermediate trails and want to extend their core skills repetoire to handle more advanced obstacles and features.
What does it focus on: Body balance techniques to facilitate low speed and technical manoeuvring, wheel lift techniques, an introduction to lofting drops and basic jump technique and reinforcing key core riding skills and techniques.
What fitness level is recommended: Some of the more advanced core skills can be a touch demanding and coupled with a ride of Barney's in the third session it's probably recommended that you're able to ride 10 to 15 km off road.
Intro to Mountain Bike Riding Skills
Who is it for: Riders that have been riding around the easy green trails and are interested in learning some skills to venture a bit further out into the wilderness.
What does it focus on: Advanced safety checks of your bike, setting up your bike for off-road riding, correct riding positions for different terrain, off-road cornering technique and tackling basic trail features that you'll commonly find out while riding on slightly more difficult trails.
What fitness level is recommended: While we ease into the longer rides there's a little bit of climbing and descending in the third session so it's helpful to have a moderate level of fitness. But don't worry - we don't leave anyone behind.!
The Other Programs and Rides
So I'll start with the Flow Skills A-Line program and apologise to those of you that I've previously promised to have it up and running this year - I'm afraid it's not going to happen. And if you're wondering about what actually happened to it, a combination of the lower programs becoming more difficult and absorbing some of the Flow A program coupled with changes to the Nerang trail network, specifically some of the technical trails that were close to the trail head (ie they no longer exist!) means that the original Flow A program is pretty much redundant. While I have some ideas, I haven't yet been able to figure out what the new Flow A program should look exactly look like. It's also a program that I don't like running in the middle of summer as it can be physically demanding so unfortunately it means that you won't see this program being revived until 2022.
And realistically that's also likely the case with some of the other trail rides I'd previously mentioned I would try and do. Unless you're an early riser, summer isn't the most comfortable time to do social trail rides and unfortunately my permit with Queensland Parks and Wildlife Services doesn't allow me to hold any night rides or sessions.
What I will do over summer though is spend a bit of time getting Flow A and some new activities for 2022 organised. So if you have any ideas on what you might like to get help with or do generally, let me know and I'll see if can make next year a bit more interesting!
See you out on the trails!