We recently had the opportunity to provide some coaching and guiding around our home town of Mossley and what a great opportunity it was.
Here’s how it went down…
The idea was to run three sessions throughout the week. Practising skills and getting used to the bikes before setting out on a group ride up into the hills.
The weather was surprisingly kind to us throughout the week, dry and sunny on our riding days (well at least during the sessions) whilst it rained throughout the two rest days before our adventure.
The group was quite a mixed bag, from age 7 to 11, that’s year 4 primary school girls through to a big year 7 lad! Some participants were unable to make the first session, so Tuesday served as a catch-up and consolidation session. The newcomers were thrown in at the deep end – and they responded well. Shouts of “look-ahead, look-ahead” and “pedals level” rang out on the playing field and bridleway descents.
All participants did well to overcome fears whilst practising balance and descending on the surprisingly steep slope in Egmont Street Park. Some were even going for the pre-jump on entry for maximum momentum – impressive!
By Friday we were ready to get out of the park, back on the bridleway and right up to (and around) Dove Stone Reservoir. For most of the kids it was the first time they had rode a bike this far and for some much-further than they had rode before. The group came well prepared, warmed up in the park and dealt with the short road sections well – being sensible and walking where we needed to.
Blasting round the scenic trail was great and the kids were appreciating the views and fresh air as much as the exhilaration of riding their bikes off-road. Once we made it over the bridge I gave the group a choice – descend with Pete to the bottom of a short hill and continue on the surfaced trail or cut into the woods and tackle a short piece of singletrack.
Only one brave soul chose the latter, of course our year 7 adrenaline junkie. He did well, found his limit and vowed to come back at a later date to “clean-it” the first of many singletrack blasts for him I hope.
We returned just in time to meet arriving parents, participants were eager to share their experiences (as well as requesting new bikes). It was clear the children felt proud of themselves for getting so far on the day and were inspired and keen to get back in the saddle.
I myself had a great week delivering the sessions, I was smiling right through and I can still feel the buzz as I type now. To have helped give these kids their first insight into the joys of off-road cycling whilst passing on some of my knowledge and skills just feels amazing.
We hope to run some more sessions in October and I hope everyone will return for another adventure by bike, right on their doorstep.
It would be a dream come true to run these type of sessions in a dedicated indoor environment like Dirt Factory. Beginner trails with practice features, centrally located in a safe, dry and fun facility would make people’s first introduction to mountain biking a very positive one. Certainly an experience they would want to replicate for years to come, both indoors and out!