Over the weekend (4th-6th September) I spent some time with the team from AllianceMTB the plan was some skills coaching covering basic techniques from cornering, wheel lifts, body position, drops and a few jumps. The tag line being not to teach you to suck eggs but refine and correct to improve performance allowing you to preserve
energy while riding.. Something that I think helps all riders regardless of your experience/skill level.
The weekend starts with a day at Sherwood Pines, basic cornering techniques covered, watching each other to learn to self diagnose our positioning on and in relation to the bikes, this was swiftly followed by wheel lifts and appreciating just how easy it is to clear obstacles and how this relates to your approach speed, next up was taking these skills to a section of the Sherwood Pines trail to learn about pumping.. Some friendly no pedal competition made for lots of friendly encouragement and a bit of rivalry… Even between the coaches which made us all giggle! We then moved to some drops both the rock garden and rooted variety, some gentle coaxing from Steve soon had us all negotiating the features in relative control and comfortable to take them at a sensible pace… Not quite enduro gnarr but comfortable. We then found ourselves heading to some jumps. Table top jumps were the order of the day keeping a good safety net as they were arranged in a rhythm section meaning you had to cleanly jump them in order to make it over the next. With some practice we were all getting air well beneath our wheels and some quite simple in hindsight instructions gave us all confidence to keep trying and pushing ourselves.
Just as an aside I’d ridden with and I’m friends with Thomas who was attending the course and I regard as a highly skilled and confident rider and also one of the coaches Chris. The other coach and 3 other riders I’d never met but we were soon all enjoying some friendly micky taking and encouraging each other through sections. We also had some tips/pointers on climbing technique, something very regularly forgotten when you think of skills coaching but some excellent tips/pointers to try and ease the less enjoyable parts (I may be a bit of a sadist and like a challenging climb).
After this we popped round to the dh track to practice a few small rock gardens/steps sessioning part of the track gaining confidence. Thomas very kindly caught this picture of me on one of the steps, after the training I’d received I felt very comfortable and confident with tackling these.
Come the end of our time we all headed back to vehicles to talk through our thoughts and get cleaned up ready for the evenings meal!
Smiles all round after some skills coaching.
Saturday night was curry night on the pines to Peaks course, all getting to know each other better and enjoying a few beverages together.
Sunday came round swiftly, bacon buttys (sorry cobs) consumed as riding fuel and we were heading to the village of Hope in the Peak District, coffee consumed at the cafe and the usual pre ride obligatory faff and we were off climbing up towards an old roman road.
I’ve never ridden in the Peaks before but it ranks very highly in terms of both views and also the riding! After the first steep(ish) road climb we went through the first gateway.
Then on to an old roman road, I hung back from Thomas and Steve to get this shot, can you see them in the distance?
Everywhere we rode seemed to lead us to views like this:
I’m sure the weather helped but it was absolutely stunning! So glad I dragged some warm southern weather up with me! 😉
Following the more mellow climb was an amazing descent known as potato alley, rocky, loose, challenging but we all seemed to have massive grins on our faces at the bottom so we must of been doing something right.
Simon and Chris reaching the bottom of potato alley.
Many other challenging climbs and fun descents followed, fortunately Thomas was enjoying being a ‘tog for the day and he managed to capture a couple of pictures of me (Thanks!).
Towards the end of the ride… Infact just prior to the last climb we stopped off next to a reservoir and dam with a bench with a great quote engraved in.
So we did the right thing enjoyed the view and took a group shot
After the final descent it was time for a quick refuel before setting on our journeys home. The weekend was a great experience in all aspects, learnt a fair amount and most importantly enjoyed it immensely! The team at AllianceMTB made sure everyone was happy and content throughout all elements in terms of what skills to use and also advising of what lay ahead on the Sunday (safe to say they know the Peaks very very well!). If you fancy polishing up your skills and having some great company I think you’d be hard pushed to find a better choice. I for one will certainly returning at a later date.