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There's something in the woodshed...a Maxlight! 22 07 18

It's alive! I've finally finished building up the Kinesis Maxlight after years in exile at the back of the shed. It's a rigid mountain bike (old school rules) which now only needs a black saddle to finish off the stealth look. May well use this for beginner courses and blasting down the canal.


1-2-1 skills course with Lisa in the High Peak - 05 04 18

A good 1-2-1 skills session wth Lisa yesterday in the High Peak, lots of skills covered from body position to descending rocky terrain. Even the spring sunshine made an appearance!


1-2-1 skills course with Fran - 02 09 17
This Saturday I was out in the Peaks with Fran for a full day course focusing on progressing her riding ability. Fran had a willingness to ride outside of her comfort zone which paid off during the day as she tackled the stone slabs on middle moor and the super fast descent leading to the SVT. A good day out with amazing summer weather. Well done Fran.

1-2-1 skills course in Hayfield with Rachel - 20 08 17
This Sunday I was out in the Peaks running a skills training session for Rachel who wanted to improve her foundation MTB skills and transfer these skills to her cross bike. We covered a lot of ground during the morning session and she is now ready to put the skills into practice. Good work.

Summer is here at last! - 23 07 17 - High Peak
Sunday saw me heading out to Coed Llandegla for a blast around the black trails and after a long drive back it was only right to see the good weather out with ride from New Mills to Mellor Cross and an swift pint in the Fox Inn at Brook bottom.

Summer skills courses are good to go! - 07 07 17
Roll up, roll up, book on to one of my Summer skills courses and learn how to manual, corner, bunnyhop and jump your way through the summer!
 

Courses are available on weekends, during the week and now the long days are here, evenings too! Call Al on 07815 617240 for details.

Peaks sunset ride - 19 06 12
A quick evening blast out this evening to blow out the cobwebs and catch the sunset for the hottest day so far this year! What a sunset and an evening beer to see the day out, now this is why I live in the Peaks!


Scotland in May for the ultimate MTB trip - Nevis Range, Laggan, Balblair and Moray monster trails!
I wasup in Scotland for an epic 4 days of riding in late May/early June with Gareth to hit as many centres as possible and make sure we take in the once that are WAY up North. First day was Fort William for the red trail downhill and the XC routes....amazing riding. 

Then it was up to Aviemore to ride Laggan Wolftrax and finally a double on the last day with a couple of circuits of the awesome Moray trails and finally a blast round Balblair. The weather held out for us and we had covered more than 1000 miles in the car. I'm currently reducing the carbon footprint by cycling even more than usual!

1-2-1 Skills course with Tim - Peak District - 13 05 17
I was out training this weekend with Tim who wanted to improve his overall riding and to be able to tackle more challenging terrain with confidence. We started with the basics and built up to front and rear wheel lifts before heading out up the steep climb up to Middlesmoor and beyond. 
The weather turned out to be fine and Tim was soon dropping off banks and blasting through the heather. Not bad at all to say he was riding a 1996 GT mountain bike. Old Skool rules. 

High Peak ride out with Pat - 120417
A great Spring day in the Peaks and what better way to spend it than hitting the trails and heading out over the hills. Southhead, Roych's Clough, Chapel Gate and Edale, great riding and all on the doorstep. Very loose on the Chapel descent which had the Specialised's 90mm travel working overtime! 

1-2-1 Skills session with Geoff - 29 01 17
I was out training with Geoff today for The second part of his skills course in the Peaks. He wanted to focus on his climbing skills so, it was off to Kinder Reservoir for a very steep introduction to some serious climbing! We broke the climb down into sections and tackled different types of terrain and trail obstacles. 



Once at the top we headed over to Middlemoor and finally climbed up to the top of Lantern Pike before a super fast descent back down to the SVT and a cruise back to Hayfield. A great Winter training day. 

1-2-1 Skills session with Mark - 22 01 17
A great day of training with Mark out on the hills around the High Peak. He mastered manuals, rear wheel lifts and bunny hops before a lunch break at Rosie's Cafe.


In the afternoon we headed up to Middles Moor for some technical climbing and descending before climbing Lantern Pike and descending back down to the SVT and heading back to Hayfield. it was cold on the tops but worth it for the descending! !

Winter riding in the Peaks......11 12 16
I had a great ride out from Hayfield today with Pat, first up was the bridleway from Hayfield, over Middles Moor then up and over Lantern Pike. Always said how good it is to have this standard of MTB trails on your door step! 



1-2-1 skills course from Hayfield with Raph - 26 11 16
I had a meet up in Hayfield today to run a skills course for Raph who wanted to improve his overall off road riding ability and to become more confident on the trails. The weather was bright and sunny with a slight bite from the cold air....perfect for winter riding. 


We covered all the basics including manuals, line choice and keeping it loose on the rough stuff! After a morning in the saddle it was time for a coffee and a ride home the long way round.

1-2-2 skills session with Emily and John - 07 05 16
I was out once more in the High Peak running a skills course for Emily and John who wanted to get to grips with mountain biking since moving to the area a year previously. Having both come from a road cycling background, they had the legs but needed to loosen up on the trails and trust the bike (and themselves) on the rough stuff. 



After a lesson on the attack position and braking technique, we moved onto line choice and flow and one of my favourite descents. They made great progress and were soon much more confident on the trails which in turn is completely transferable to their road biking. A great morning all round with some fantastic sunny weather.

A fun family skills day in Coed Y Brenin! - 07 04 16
Rain and heavy cloud definitely doesn't stop play when it comes to mountain biking. An afternoon of skills with Kate and Co led to two loops of the Blue trail to get the basics before the mountain biking bug bit them and it was back down to the switch backs for more fun on the berms. Isn't it time for a coffee yet guys?


Natural Winter trails training in the Peaks with Kate - 21 02 16
Finally, the rain stopped and the window for a training session in the Peaks was on! I headed out with Kate over to South Head and the fast and technical descent down to Roychs Clough. A long climb out and on to the No Car Cafe for lunch before racing over and down to Edale for some well earned Granola! 


New Mills to Castleton in the wind and rain - 30 12 15
As the road bike has been looking very gloomy and unridden for the last few months , it was time to head out for a rainy ride with my other half over to Castleton for bit of good grub and a few drinks. The weather was very wet and windy but it was well worth it to arrive at a warm pub and a steak and ale pie!

The next day we headed back via the broken road, Wash and New Mills, much better weather and after all that mountain biking with super keen disc brakes, it was a little surprising to see just how poor cantilever brakes really are in the wet! So, all you mountain bikers out there have a cracking New Years Eve and get out on those trails before you're all back at work again.

Post Crimbo ride out in the Peaks - 28 12 15


It was the perfect opportunity to head out into the hills this morning to blast out the Christmas cobwebs and clear my head.


I rode a great route along the SVT to Hayfield then out and up to the Shooting Cabin, across the muddy moors and then up and over Lantern Pike. Carburettors are cleared out and ready for the next ride!



Merry Christmas Mountain Bikers!- 25 12 15


Happy Christmas everybody! I hope that Santa bought you all the mountain bike related goodies that you wished forand don't forget to burn those mince pies off with a much needed post Crimbo blast!

Pre Crimbo Sunny Winter Ride in the Peaks - 23 12 15

With Christmas nearly upon us it was the perfect opportunity to get out on the bike before the festivities set in and the poor weather. I had a great training ride from Hayfield, up the long climb to South Head and the rocky technical descent down to Roych Clough. It was then over to Rushup and a quick left to descend down Chapel Gate into Edale.




Winter riding is fantastic, especially on a clear and crisp Winters day. Have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year everyone and remember to get out on the bike over the festive season......it's what your bike would want!

Halloween - 31 10 15 - A tale of chilling illumination!

T'was on a night as cold and dark as this, that I came across a distant light whilst out on the wet and windy hills....Hope vision? or maybe a Lupine Piko? I thought to myself. As the rider's light came closer I heard no sound from the bike..., no clattering chain or squeal of brakes....it was eerily quiet


Before I could gather my thoughts it was upon me, a manic, cackling rider with an evil grin. I fell off the bike into the trailside, as I turned to watch it disappear into the darkness I heard it shriek back at me...."....neither mate, I get them from a knock off shop on e-bay". 


Happy Halloween to all you riders out there...mortal or otherwise!


Lakeland trails and the Lyth Valley - 12 - 14th September, 2015

I was in the Lakes last weekend for a blast around Whinlatter on the mountain bikes and a road ride around the beautiful Lyth Valley. 
After an impromptu meet up with Rich from Cyclewise we headed out onto the Quercus trail followed by a blast around the South red loop. The weather was awesome and the trails were dusty and dry. After a final run we headed to the pub for a well earned shandy (bloody lightweight) and a plate full of fine food.

The next day was a very hilly route around Windermere and then around and through the quiet but spectacular Lyth Valley. If you have never rode here then you need to get up there and see what I'm making a big fuss 
about. well worth the trip and plenty of pubs and cafes to keep your engines stoked!


1-2-1 skills session with Joe and Helen in the Goyt Valley - 28 06 15
I was out on the Goyt Valley trails on Sunday to run a half day 1-2-1 skills course for Joe. The session was a birthday present off his mum Helen for his 16th...good present! Joe wanted to learn the correct ways to tackle the trails and improve on his skills before venturing onto the harder graded trails.



After the basics we covered ascending, descending, line choice, manuals and even at the end of the session he nailed bunny hops....good work! I can't think of a better way to see in your 16th Birthday!


A quick evening blast around Strines with Kate -  21 06 15
I ended up heading out for a quick blast last Saturday evening on the great trails in and around Strines and Roman Lakes with Kate. The weather was bad all day but an evening break in the weather was the ideal time to get out and take advantage of the last bit of good weather before night set in. 



Easily the best way to spend a Saturday evening, especially when you finish the ride with an ice cold shandy at The Fox Inn at Broad Bottom.


1-2-1 Skills session with Ian at Hayfield - 23 05 15
I was out on training in the High Peaks on Saturday with Ian for his 1-2-1 skills course. The weather was fantastic and the trails were dry and super fast! We recovered manuals and the active body position followed by a very steep climb up to the shooting cabin on Middles Moor. 



After covering line choice and pumping for speed, we put it all to the test on the steep, rocky and very fast descent back down to Hayfield. a great day out on the hills. 

1-2-1 Beginners skills course with Jonathan and Andy (his dad) at Lee Quarry - 02 05 15
I was up at Lee Quarry on Saturday morning to meet up with Jonathan and his Dad Andy who wanted me to run through the basic skills of mountain biking with his son. As always we began with body position and braking technique, all of which he picked up really quickly.


It was then time to head off to the pump-track where he mastered his free speed skill to apply to the trail, a quick session on manuals and it was a race back down the trails to the car park for a quick recap before heading off in search for a well needed sandwich!

1-2-1 Jumps and Drops course with Dave at Lee Quarry - 24 04 15
I was up at Lee Quarry this weekend running a full day 1-2-1 jumps and drops course for Dave, who wanted to master the basics of jumping and conquer his fear of drop offs. The weather was great and the trails were dry and fast.

We covered everything from body position, braking, pumping for speed and manuals....all before a fast descent for lunch at the local café. Once fed we hit the lower trails for rear wheel lift and bunny hop tuition before the long climb back up to the drop zone.


With a little practise Dave nailed the drop offs and we headed for the jumps, building up slowly on the big table tops he increased his run in speed and pump until he was sailing over the jumps....mission accomplished! At the end of the day we ripped down the trails back to the car park for a recap and a much needed chocolate bar.

Easter Bunny cheer to all you mountain bikers out there!




1-2-2 Birthday skills session with Helen and Neil in Hayfield - 14 03 15
I was out in the Peak District again this weekend running a training course for Neil and Helen. The course was a surprise birthday present for Neil from Helen which turned out to be just what he wanted. 

We met up at the Lantern Pike Inn at Little Hayfield where we headed out along the edge of Lantern Pike working on cornering techniques. After that we headed onto a great singletrack descent to look at line choice and dealing with rocky and slippery terrain. After some manual and steep ascending tuition we headed for Rosie's Cafe in Hayfield for a well earned lunch.

After Lunch we hit the local steps before the long climb up to Middle Moor before we put it all into practise blasting across the rutted and technical bridleway back to Little Hayfield. We had a great day and finished it off with a nice cold beer. Can't be bad.

A wet, muddy and windy ride in the High Peaks
I had a great ride today in the High Peak, steep and muddy climbing had you fighting for traction and momentum all the way to the top, but once there the descending was fast, rutted, slippery and a lot of fun! 
Looking forward to running courses on this route in the future. What better way to spend a Sunday than reading the Sunday Trails!

Blowing out the festive cobwebs - High Peak - 02 01 15
As the weather today looked to be a nice crisp winters day it was the perfect time for a New Year blast out on the bikes to work off those mince pies and late nights. Gareth and I headed out to Hayfield before the long wet and rutted climb up to New Allotments followed by a fast descent to Peep o'Day farm and the final climb and descent over Coldwell Clough and back into Hayfield.

 

A short ride back along the Sett Valley Trail and we were back to base and ready for a well earned brew! As always with a ride out over the hills things feel a lot clearer and I'm all fired up now for a new year of skills training. Remember, if you want to book onto a skills course to beat the Christmas excess please drop me an email. Happy riding! 

Happy New Year - 2015 here we go!
Here's wishing a Happy New Year to all you lovely mountain bikers out there, I hope that this year brings you all the smoothest trails, epic rides with friends and of course a glorious summer! All the best. Al ;-)

Happy Christmas from Dale Trails - 25 12 14
Here's wishing you all a Happy Christmas and a very active new year testing out all your new mountain bike kit or if you were lucky enough....your new mountain bike! I look forward to a year of mountain bike training and meeting more of you lovely people.

As you know it's vital keep riding over the festive period to keep your skills and fitness levels up. However, this year I've been in Anglesey doing some road riding, destination South Stack lighthouse and RSPB centre on the West of Holy Island. as you can see the weather was very testing and as always we got pebble dashed by wind, rain and hail before arriving back to base and appreciating a good warm fire. there really is no better way to pass the time on Boxing Day!

Christmas Skills Course ~Vouchers!!
Well, it's that time of year again and as always it can be very difficult to choose what to buy the mountain biker in your life. Well, fear not, I may have the ideal solution!


Why not buy them one of my MTB skills vouchers? They can choose from half day or full day 1-2-1 skills sessions or a voucher to a certain amount to put towards a skills course of their choice in the New Year. Just get in touch and I'll do the rest. Here's to a bike filled Christmas.


1-2-1 Skills Course with Ian at Hayfield - 25 11 14
Well, it was cold start to the morning as I set off over to Hayfield to meet Ian for his skills course. On arrival we filled in the paperwork and after a wee seat adjustment on Ian's bike we headed out down the Sett Valley Trail looking at body position and moving around the bike. After a quick session on braking technique we headed up the climb leading to Ollersett, the climb is a steep farm track that eventually becomes a deeply rutted technical ascent...the perfect place to practise your line choice.

After a brief break at the top we decided to cut the route short and head back down the rutted climb to practise descending on rutted trails and looking at multiple line choice. Ian rode well and had  really loosened up on the bike, keeping his head up and body relaxed as he descended.

Back at the SVT we practised both Front wheel lifts (Manuals) and pedal assisted front wheel lifts to really keep that active body position. So, with lots to take away a practise we finished up back at the car park to recap on the morning and head off for some well earned food.

Sett Valley Tag Team - 23 11 14
I had a muddy ride out down the Sett Valley Trail with the nephews on Saturday afternoon on route to a great cafe for lunch. By chance, I also found another great way to improve your reactions, acceleration and braking technique....Tyre Buzz Tag. One rider is "it" and must attempt to buzz the other riders rear tyre to be tagged, a lotof fun and add to the mix plenty of sprints to avoid being tagged and you have another way to train in the winter months...bonus!
 
1-2-1 Skills Course with  Amado at Lee Quarry - 12 10 14
Last Saturday I ran a great 1-2-1 skills session over at Lee Quarry for
Last Sunday I ran part one of Amado's 1-2-1 skills course up at Lee Quarry near Bacup. We started on the basics such as the attack position and cone of movement then we progressed onto controlled braking. Next stop, the pump track and a great opportunity to work put into practise that active body position. 


After a short break it was onto front wheel lifts and then we finished of on some technical ascending and descending techniques. Amado progressed well throughout the session and by his second skills session will be ready to tackle intermediate skills such as; rear wheel lift, track stand and bunny hops.

1-2-1 Skills Course with  Mark at Lee Quarry - 27 09 14
Last Saturday I ran a great 1-2-1 skills session over at Lee Quarry for part 2 Mark, the weather was great and perfect for riding. Mark wanted to improve on his manuals, rear wheel lifts and drop offs so he can gain a little more confidence in the air.

After a short while in the car park manualing a rear wheel lifting over kerbs and car park furniture we headed up to the quarry where we put it into practise and soon had Mark manualing pump track transitions! Then it was up to the Drop zone to perfect his drop odd technique before we had a final taster of air time on the table tops. Mark's riding became a lot more fluid and relaxed throughout the morning and he can't wait to try his new skills out at Coed-Y-Brenin next month.

1-2-1 Skills Course with James at Lee Quarry Trails - 13 07 14
Last Saturday I ran a great 1-2-1 skills session over at Lee Quarry for James as a belated birthday present from his sister!  James wanted to improve on his overall riding and as the course progressed his experience as a ski instructor shone through (James has been known to hit 67mph on a black ski run!).

After covering everything from body position, pumping the trail for speed and technical descending we moved onto cornering and flow. By the end of the session James was floating down the trail with greater confidence and a big smile on his face.

A great of day of training and I now know where to go for some skiing tips!

1-2-1 Skills Course part 2 with  Mark at Clayton Trails - 05 07 14
Last Saturday I ran a great 1-2-1 skills session over at Clayton Trails in Manchester for part 2 of Mark's skills tuition. Luckily the weather was far better than the last session at Lee Quarry where we almost got hypothermic!
 
Mark wanted to improve his pumping technique on the pump-track, improve his cornering and fine tune his line choice.  As with all things cycling, practise and sessioning makes things really "click and stick" so, after a very tiring afternoon of swooping switchbacks, pumping sections on the trails and manualing we finally put it all into practise on the top bowl section of the trails. Mark was now flying around the bends and dips of the trails and using a lot less energy then he had previously....job done!
 
A great couple of 1-2-1 sessions later and Mark is far more confident out there on the trails....happy cycling!
 
Air Smiles Jumps Course at Lee Quarry - 28 06 14
Last Saturday I was up at Lee Quarry to run an Air Smiles Jumps and Drops course for Zac, Wayne, Tim and Warren. All of the guys wanted to improve their overall technique eventually leading up to them being able to confidently tackle jumps ...and drops!
 
The weather was great, the wind was minimal (very rare for Lee Quarry!) and the riders were ready to ride. The course went really well and the guys were soon pumping every rut for speed, dropping off everything and finally jumping the top trail tabletops...good work!

By the end of the day it was a super fast blast down the trails and over the lower jumps to finish off what was a tiring but exhilerating day of training!
 
1-2-1 Skills Course with Mav at Clayton Trails - 21 06 14 
Last Saturday (21st) I ran a great 1-2-1 skills session for Mav over at Clayton Trails in Manchester. The sun was shining the trails were dry and dusty and the afternoon flew by.

Mav wanted to gain confidence with cornering and line choice both down and uphill. We started off at the pump track and skills area building up from basic body position through to braking techniques. Before long we moved over to the trails and Mav was soon railing the corners and manualing over the rooty sections.

A great afternoon of skills training and now Mav can't wait to try out his new skills at Llandegla later this summer!
 
1-2-1 Skills Coaching at with Will at Lee Quarry - 19 04 14
I was up at Lee Quarry for the second part of Will's 1-2-1 skills course on Saturday. Previously, I worked with Will on body position, braking techniques, pumping for speed and front wheel lifts, so this time we took things a few steps further.
 
Starting off on the huge climb up to the quarry, we got nice and relaxed on the pump track learning how to look through a corner and keep your speed. Then a quick recap on manuals, rear wheel lifts and the all important bunny hop! Will picked up these skills quickly and we soon were at the trail-head pumping and railing corners.

A fast blast back down the trails to the car park to end a really good morning of skills training.
A new town and new trails
This Sunday I was out riding the trails around Mellor, New Mills, Picking Rods and Lantern Pike, these trails will soon be my local trails as I'll be moving over to the high peak by early summer!
The trails are fantastic and offer everything for all riding abilities, once out on the tops it's you always seem to be confronted with a variety of descents back down to the local villages, which luckily have bike friendly cafes and cake waiting for the weary mountain biker.
 
I have plan to run a series of skills courses around these trails which will offer some great days out training! So, why not leave the trail centres behind and head out on an all natural skills course?

Give me a call if you'd like to book on, after all summer is on its way!

Happy New Year!!
A Happy New Year to mountain bikers and cyclists everywhere, I hope that 2014 brings you a constant stream of new trail centres to ride, open country adventures and ripping up the local pump track and BMX track to keep those skills honed. Have a good one!
 
Letting Christmas eat your dust - 28 12 13
Well, Christmas is over once more and outside the winter sun is shining. Now that the mince pies have settled and the over indulgence has passed it's time to slip out of the onesie that you were bought and get the bike kit on for an exhilerating ride out on the trails. Let's face it, the trails will be quiet and fresh, your bike will be glad to turn it's wheels and of course you can blow out all those old cobwebs and return home feeling refreshed.
 
 
As winter progresses it's always a good idea to keep yourself training on the bike, be it out on the trails, on the roadbike or even on the turbo trainer, that way you'll keep your base fitness and skills up ready for spring time (which will be with us soon!). So, with that in mind, why not book yourself onto a skills course forthe New Year so that you can really hit the trails hard when the sun arrives? You can book a prefered date or buy the session as a voucher and redeem it whenever you like!
 
Contact me if you'd like further information on which course you think would suit you best, but in the meantime, get out on your bike!
 
 
A tale of chilling illumination!
T'was on a night as cold and dark as this, that I came across a distant light whilst out on the wet and windy hills....Hope vision? or maybe a Lupine Piko? I thought to myself. As the rider's light came closer I heard no sound from the bike..., no clattering chain or squeal of brakes....it was eerily quiet
 
Before I could gather my thoughts it was upon me, a manic, cackling rider with an evil grin. I fell off the bike into the trailside, as I turned to watch it disappear into the darkness I heard it shriek back at me...."....neither mate, I get them from a knock off shop on e-bay".

Happy Halloween to all you riders out there...mortal or otherwise!
 
1-2-1 MTB skills session with Will at Lee Quarry trails - 19 10 13
I was up at Lee Quarry today with Will for the first part of his 1-2-1 skills coaching sessions. Will has been riding for the past twelve months or so on a hard tail where he cut his trail riding teeth, now that he has an almighty Orange 5 (the bike of choice) he wanted to get some proper coaching to make the most of his new ride.

We started out looking at body position and braking techniques which improved his confidence on the descents. Next it was up to the pump track to work on flow and pump as well as a recap on that all important body position. Will was progressing well and before long we were looking at manuals which he picked up quickly before we headed over to the drop off zone. Pretty soon Will had mastered the drop off so it was up to the trail head for some cornering techniques on the first two red descents.
Once he knew where to look and how to carry speed by using the full trail width it was time for the full descent from the top of the quarry to finish back at the car park.....always the best way to end the day!

Will progressed really well and after a few weeks practice he'll be back for part two of his skills coaching where we'll look at everything from bunny hops to jumps and slabbed climbs to technical rocky descents! Good work.
 
1-2-1 MTB skills session with Sarah at Clayton Vale trails - 12 09 13
I was back riding at Clayton Vale MTB trails tonight for a 1-2-1 session with Sarah. Sarah has just finished building up her shiny new Cotic Soul hard tail and was eager to get out on the trails. With the new bike good to go Sarah wanted to... upgrade her own riding skills so that she could really get to grips with the bike. We started out with getting nice and loose on the bike, followed by a session on correct braking technique. When we hit the pump track Sarah was really moving around the bike and before long she was pumping around the track without a single pedal stroke.
 
           
 
Onto the skills area now for some cornering technique before heading over to the trails to put it all into practice. On the trails we looked further into setting up and exiting corners before a blast around the blue loop with a random visit to one or two red sections. By the end of the session Sarah was really compressing the bike into the corners, pumping the trail for speed and climbing like a mountain goat, well done Sarah!
 
1-2-1 half day skills session with Joe at Lee Quarry - 09 08 13
This morning I was up at Lee Quarry to run a 1-2-1 skills course for Joe, the weather was overcast but luckily the rain held off for the majority of the morning. We started off with looking at his body position on the bike, the attack posit...ion and climbing technique before we headed off up the infamous Lee Quarry climb. After a lesson on braking technique it was time to really get loose on the pump track. Joe picked this up quickly and we were soon progressing to manuals and finally roll offs over at the drop zone. 

 To finish off we headed back down the super fast trails which Joe felt far more confident on with his newly acquired skills! A great morning followed by a fantastic lunch at Poppies Deli Café, the best place to get a good feed after a long day on the quarry trails!

 I'm looking forward to hearing how Joe has progressed with his riding in the future, especially after his visit to Coed ...good luck Joe!
 
1-2-1 skills session with Ged at Philips Park trails - 21 07 13
On Sunday I was up at Philips Park trails with Ged for the first part of his 1-2-1 skills session. Ged was riding a hybrid bike whilst he decides which Cube mountain bike to buy to really rips the trails up! We covered everything from body ...position, braking technique, line choice and an introduction to cornering technique.
 
 
The next session will be held at the all new Clayton Vale MTB trails in East Manchester where everything learnt in the first session will be put into practice and built upon ready for more summer trail riding
 
Summer evening skills course with Ele and Jono at Maccledfield Forest - 07 07 13
I had a great evening skills ride with Ele and Jono at Macclesfield Forest yesterday. This was the second skills session with the guys and this time we'd cover off camber corners, loose and technical descending and finally roll offs on the Teggs Nose bridleway.
 
 
As we arrived back at the car park it was a very quick summary as the hungry midges descended on us. My evening skills courses are a great way to make the most of the summer time and get you trail ready!
 
1-2-1 Intermediate skills course Pt2 at Lee Quarry with Will - Sunday 30th June, 2013
I was backup at Lee Quarry this morning to run the second half of Will's 1-2-1 intermediate skills course. The weather was better than last week with no rain but still windy up on the top trails. After the long climb up, we warmed up on the... pump track and looked at creating extra boost from bermed corners. A quick recap on manuals (Front Wheel Lifts) and it was onto rear wheel lifts which Will soon got to grips with. The wind had picked up as was getting stronger by the minute as we looked at linking the two skills before learning the bunny hop. We headed over to the rough, technical drop offs to the rear of Lee Quarry, these are an old nemesis of Will's and by breaking it down into sections he nailed the drop offs in time for a loop around to the jump
 
 
section. Unfortunately the wind had picked up and jumping was out of the question...booo! So, back down to the pump track for a session on manualing rhythm sections and a last blast down the lower trails back to the car park. A really good day with some excellent progression by Will, The two sessions have helped him flow down the trail with the minimum of effort and with greater speed....job done!
 
1-2-1 Intermediate skills course at Lee Quarry with Will - Sunday 23rd June, 2013
It was a busy one this weekend, On Sunday I was back up at Lee Quarry with Will for Part 1 of his 1-2-1 intermediate skills course. Will wanted to start afresh and build on his current riding skills whilst getting rid of any bad habits that... he'd picked up over the years. After a quick recap on the four core skills we then moved onto the pump track to really get him used to being active on the bike before we covered front wheel lifts and his old nemesis,,,the drop off!
 
 
By the end of the session Will had nailed all the skills and more importantly had lost his fear of drop offs. Good work, now for next weeks session with a build up to cornering, descending and everyone's favourite....jumps!
 
1-2-1 Beginners skills course at Lee Quarry with Tam - Saturday 22nd June, 2013
On Saturday I was up at Lee Quarry to run a 1-2-1 beginners skills course for Tam who wanted to improve her confidence and skill level on her new bike. She rode really well and was willing to give anything a try, which also enabled her to progress through the 4 core skills and end the session with a huge smile on her face!
 
 
 
We covered everything from Attack Position to Pumping for speed and Manuals to Technical climbing and descending. A great morning out and another new rider skilled up and ready for the summer trails!
 
Tyre side up beginner skills course with Ele and Jono at Hayfield - 01 06 13
Sunny weather, dry trails and chocolate brownies...not a bad way to spend a Saturday! I was over at Hayfield today with Ele and Jono to run a beginner/intermediate skills course for the budding parasenders! Whilst being used to getting their airbourne kicks over the Peak District valleys they wanted to improve their bike skills on good old terra firma.
 
 
Throughout the day Ele and Jono really pushed themslves and they made some fantastic progression not just in their riding ability but in their overall confidence on the varied trails. We covered everything from climbing and decsending techniques to body position and manuals. A really good day and just to end the day on a high, a quick lesson on wheelies on our way back to the car park....good times
 
Air Smiles Jump course with Dave, Mark, Andrew and Dennis at Lee Quarry - 19 05 13
I had a cracking day up at Lee Quarry today running the first group "Air Smiles" jump course. The weather was dry and the trails were riding as sweet as ever! After the initial meet up and introductions we headed up to the Quarry where we covered everything from Attack Position to Pumping the trails, Manuals to Drop Offfs and Rear Wheel Lifts to Bunny Hops, in fact all this before we even got to the jump sections! The guys rode really well throughout the day and worked really hard at the skills until they had all had them dialled in. At the jumps we began to slowly session the tabletops, building speed and power as the lads hit the jumps, pretty soon they were getting their first taste of "controlled" air time.
 
 
A quick blast down the trails to the lower jumps and a last session on the steeper jump sections before we headed back to the car park to finish off the session and a final debrief. A fantastic day of coaching with some great guys. Now go out and play on the local jumps......Flight Commander Bowker signing off

 Lee Quarry MTB trails - Jump Course recce -12th May, 2013
I was up at Lee Quarry this morning to have one last check on the trail conditions before my "Air Smiles" jump course next weekend. The forecast was grim from 1pm onwards so me and my mate Jamie got up there early before the rain to have a play on the jumps and trailhead descents. The wind started to pick up as is always the case at the quarry but not enough to stop the fun.
 
 
If you fancy taking your riding to new heights (literally), then feel free to get in touch with me and we'll get you ready for take off!
 
Clayton Vale & Phillips Park MTB trails - Andrew - 8th May, 2013
I headed out to ride the new trails at Clayton Vale this evening with Andrew for a little skills tuition and to have a blast on the new Pump Track and Skills area at Phillips Park. These new additions to the NCC are really well built, super flowy and are perfect to really practise and improve your riding skills.
 
     
 
A full on weekend of skills coaching! - 13th & 14th April, 2013
I've just had a very busy weekend out coaching two "tyre side down" beginners skills courses. On Saturday I was down in Macclesfield Forest for a morning session with Zoe and Andy, As regular adventure racers they both wanted to improve on everything from climbing and descending techniques to cornering and roll offs. The morning flew by and after the session they decided to head off for another lap of the forest....good effort guys!
 
     
 
Sunday saw me in Hayfield for a beginners skills course with Anna and Karen. The day was very windy as we rode up towards Chinley, so much so that you could almost use your bike as a kite! We headed down to lower trails to continue the coaching where both Karen and Anna learnt the 4 core skills of MTBing... the attack Position, effective braking, trackstands and front wheel lifts. A great day out and some really positive progression from the girls riding. Well done and keep on practising those track stands
 
 
News Flash....
Easter Bunny seen ripping up the trails and jumps at Delamere Forest today....sorry kids, but the Easter Eggs may be a little late! Keep on Riding....
 
 
Phillips Park, Prestwich - Jump course recce - 17 03 13
This Sunday morning I returned to Phillips Park near Prestwich to ride, recce and mark out the training areas to be used for my up and coming "Air Smiles"Jump courses starting in April. The trails were moist and tacky but still had great flow, check out the website later this week for new course dates and venues.
With Spring just around the corner there's no better time to learn how to be superfly for summer!!
 
Macclesfield Forest Trail hunting and skills course - 10 03 13
Another training ride at Macclesfield Forest today to blow the cobwebs out and hunt down some of the new singletrack trails built by hardworking locals. Of course the downhill track is always fun to shred down although it's always best to walk it first!
 
 
Macc Forest has always been a great place to ride and as i'm running a skills course overr there in April it'll also be a perfect venue for my other courses like Natural Goodness trails skills courses this Springtime ;-)
 
Recce ride for new Peaks skills courses! 22 02 13
I was out on a recce ride last weekend in the Peaks, testing out a new trail route for my skills courses! If i'm not mistake there was definitely a hint of spring in the air!
 
Happy Christmas from Dale Trails!! 24 12 12
Happy Christmas everyone, remember, while you're eating all the mince pies and turkey and opening all your presents, spare a thought for your bike all alone in the garage/shed....so many bikes are left alone at Christmas in the cold with no one to ride them.
 
 
But, luckily you can make a difference...this year get the bike out, lube the chain, pack some turkey sarnies and get out for a cracking winter ride.....remember folks, a bike is for life, not just for Christmas ;-)
 
See you out on the trails!
 
Whinlatter Duathlon - 11th November, 2012
I was up in the Lakes last Sunday for the Whinlatter Duathlon, the weather was good and the hills were steep....very steep! The event started with a 6.5km trail run which went pretty well with plenty of bog trotting and tree dodging to keep you on your toes.

It was then onto the bike and an 18.5km race around the Blue and Red North trails with a few cheeky trails thrown in for good measure....an absolute killer of a climb before heading back down to the transition area....time for an energy

Setting off for the final 5.5km trail run I soon realised just how many false peaks these trails can have as we climbed and climbed until i thought my calves would explode. A final long and hard run down a compacted fire road and my legs were ready to retire.

A respectable time of 2:29 which placed me 40th overall and 14th in my category. A better first run and I could have avoided the MTB queues on the trails, ah well, theres always the next one
 
 
1-2-1 Intermediate/Jump Skills Course - 29th October, 2012 - Harvey - Gisburn Forest 
I was up at Gisburn Forest last Monday (29th October) running a 1-2-1 MTB skills course on the fantastic Hope Line trail. Harvey has been on one of my skills courses a year ago and has since been riding and improving his bike skills. This t
ime he wanted to learn how to jump and ride technical downhill trails.
 We began the session with Front Wheel Lift (manuals), then moved onto Rear Wheel Lifts and finally the Bunny Hop. Harvey picked these skills up quickly and we were soon heading over to the Hope Line. Throughout the day we broke down the trail section by section, tackling jumps, drops and fast switchback corners.
As we reached the jump section at the bottom of the trail we focused on jumping technique and pumping the trail to get extra height and speed, this section of the trail has a push up trail for good reason, once you ride it you'll want to ride it again and again.
 
So, with Harvey now sailing over the jumps all that was left to do was to have a full length ride of the Hope Line from top to bottom before the light faded! A great end to a fantastic day and the rain even held out until the journey home.
 
1-2-1 Beginners Skills Course - 20th October, 2012 - Kate - Glentress, Scotland 
Last Saturday I was up North in Scotland to run a 1-2-1 skills session for Kate, yep, i don't usually run courses in Scotland but she just so happened to be up there the same weekend that I was due to visit Glentress for a riding weekend! So a after a few adjustments the skills session was all set.
 
Kate is an experienced road rider as she often competes in triathlons but she wanted to "try out" mountain biking to help her prepare for the Duathlon season this winter. We started the day with an introduction to the basic 4 core skills at the Glentress skills area before heading off to ride the full red route. Skills sessions took place on route and before to long Kate had a good climbing technique down ready for the climb up to Spooky Woods.
 
 
After a session on descendin technique Kate set off down Spooky Woods sweeping round the bermed corners and even getting a little air on the jumps. The final trail sections descended through some very rooty and rocky terrain, all of which she rode with confidence. Back at the cafe it was time for a well deserved brew and some final feedback. Good luck with the duathlons Kate, you'll do great.
 
The Bristol Off Road Duathlon - Sunday 14th October, 2012
Last Sunday me and my friend and training partner Paul ran and rode the Bristol Off Road Duathlon at Ashley Court in Bristol. The race starts with 2 laps of the 5.4 km run course followed by 3 laps of the 9km mountain bike course then just to finish (you) off, another 5km lap of the run course, a total distance of 44.2 kilometres.
 
 
Entered as a team Paul did the run and obviously I rode the bike, the course was a typical cross country route although a hardtail would have been a better option over my full suspension Orange 5. As the race progressed we had no idea of our position, finally crossing the line all that we could do was wait...and eat!
 
 
The results were late in and before long we discovered that we had got on the podium! 3rd place in male teams and 1st place in male team vets.....not a bad result and a great way to spend a Sunday afternoon. 
 
A Surge of energy for the trails! - 22 09 12
Finally! the NS Surge has been built and after a quick test ride the bike is super  smooth and even better than I thought it would be, especially on the jumps and rocky descents!
 
 
Super slack geometry equals BIG fun on the descents and jumps
 
The cockpit....check out those uber wide bars
 
All it needs now is to be logo'd up with Dale Trails stickers and it's all done.....Happy days!  For more information on the NS Bike range and products check out their website at www.ns-bikes.com
 
Trail Plus Camberley Caper Adventure Race!
There is less than a month to go before this years first Trail Plus adventure race - The Camberley Caper on 10th October, 2012. If you fancy getting muddy and wet on foot, on bike and in canoe then check out the Trail Plus website by clicking on the link below....you never know, you might just like it!
 
 
The Manx End 2 End race - Isle of Man - 09 09 12
Last weekend was the long awaited Isle of Man End to End Challenge. Originally I had planned to ride the race on the new NS bike I have been building but a few last minute compatibility problems resulted in me borrowing a friends bike last minute.

The day of the race came and the wind was upon us, 15 - 20 mph head winds were the order of the day (all the way!), add to this 1700 riders all ultimately heading for a small off road climb and you have a long queue forming at every bottle neck....ah well. The wind got worse the higher we rode, and the scenery would have been terrific if the mist hadn't descended upon us.



There were some fantastic rocky descents and loose wet rooted sections to tackle on the course, although I think the course designers had more than a liking for steep, long and muddy ascents up the onto the islands high moorland trails!

Finally dropping down to Port St.Mary there was one last sting in the tail, a long and steep tarmac climb up to the finish line. Crossing the line in 5 hours 12 minutes there was only one thing on my mind....a cheese and ham sandwich and a well earned brew!



So, I will definitely be entering the race again next year hopefully with my own bike, a better start position and of course hopefully less windy weather.

Keep on riding

 
Dale Trails - the official mountain bike skills partner for Trail Plus!! - 22 08 12
News Flash!! I'm proud to announce that Dale Trails are the official Mountain Bike Training partner of Trail Plus! 

Trail Plus are the guys behind the fantastic Adventure Challenge series which gives teams the opportunity to run, mountain b
ike and canoe their way around some very technical and hilly courses at five different locations around the country. I enter the races in the North each year and to be honest...i'm hooked. Trail Plus organise and run a variety of challenges and Duathlons including the infamous "Hell rider" and some killer running events such as "Hell runner" and the new race challenge...."Beauty and the Beast".
 
I will be running MTB skills training sessions for anyone fit or brave enough to enter the competitions, so while your supping your brew why not check out their website by following the link below:

http://www.trailplus.com/

.......and here's some competition news!...there is the chance to win a free entry for your team into the Adveture Series at the race venue of your choice , a months suppy of isotonic energy drinks, and of course a half day MTB skills sessions with Dale Trails for you and your team members!

To find out more please follow the link below:

http://www.runnersworld.co.uk/competitions/win-a-team--luxury-adventure-package-from-trailplus-/435.html?ExternalId=49ca9c04-30bf-4f16-9031-54289ce01128

Happy Adventure Racing!!
 
Casterton Summer School skills rides near Kirkby Lonsdale - 13th+16th August, 2012
Earlier this month I headed North up to  the village of Casterton, near Kirkby Lonsdale. Each year the school opens during the summer holidays for a variety of groups to use the picturesque school as a base for outdoor activities! I was contacted to run 2 full day MTB skills courses for a national church organisation that brings together young people from different parts of the country to partake in a week of out door activities an fun.
 
 
The route i designed used some great natural trails which were full of technical descents and steep ascents, everything you need for an exciting mountain bike ride. The first day went really well with heavy rain forecast in the morning, luckily we only saw a small amount of drizzle followed by glorious sunshine just in time for lunch by the river. A fast descent into the woodlands and back up along the top bridleway, a lesson on manualling saw some supreme efforts from the students before a short blast down the country lanes and back to the school, tired, muddy and very hungry!
 
 
The second day had us using the same route but with an entirely different group and weather conditions, the rain fell heavy that morning and the trails were very slippery. However, the group dug in and the ride went really well with some brave line choice on the rocky descents and good consistent climbing on the slippery grassy ascent to the top trails before we headed back along the trails to the school.
 
The groups were fantastic to work with and really got stuck into the ride and the skills training. Keep watching the feedback page for student and organisers feedback on the skills rides!  You know, I can't remember school being this cool when i went!!
 
1-2-1 Beginners skills course at Lee Quarry - 30 06 12 - Catalina at Lee Quarry
This Saturday I was up at Lee Quarry for a 1-2-1 beginners skills session with Catalina, Cat wanted to get a good grasp of the MTB basics in preparation for her first ever mountain bike race....the next day!!!
 
 
So, with this in mind we covered the all important skills; the attack position, braking technique, climbing and descending and an introduction to the front wheel lift (manualling). Our session was interupted by a "biblical" rain storm that had us heading for cover under the emergency shelter while the storm passed!
 
 
Cat rode really well and she was soon feeling a lot more relaxed on the bike as we headed down to the car park for one last session on manuals. The next day Cat competed in her race and she got an impressive 3rd position in the "have a go heroine catagory"......top riding Cat, a podium on your first race!
 
 
Check out the New Dale Trails MTB Skills Gift Vouchers!!
They're Heeeerrreeee!.....no, not Poltergeists....Dale Trails MTB skills gift vouchers!!
 
These Vouchers are the ideal gift for the mountain biker in your life, or as a great way to treat yourself (see it as a spa day with free mud).
 
 
The vouchers can be used for any Dale Trails skills courses, from a focused  1-2-1 skills day to a full on skills weekend for you and your riding buddies, a half day race prep course or a full days guided ride....it's entirely up to you! 
 
If you'd like to purchase a Dale Trails Gift Voucher simply give me a call or send me an email and i'll take care of the rest!
 
Happy Trails
 
 
1-2-1 Intermediate Skills Course at Hayfield, High Peak - 27 05 12
Last Sunday I was out in sunny Hayfield for a full day 1-2-1 skills session with Dave. Dave's wife had bought him the a skills voucher for his 50th birthday and we couldn't have asked for better weather.
 
Heading out over the tops we had a long climb in front of us and the perfect opportunity to focus on climbing technique and line choice. Dave soon got to grips with choosing the right line and keeping up momentum, in no time we were at the highest point of the ride, and time for a quick drink and snack stop before we focused on descending techniques, line choice and cornering on the deeply rutted hillside.
 
 
After a well earned lunch at Rosies Cafe we headed out up one of the steepest climbs in the Peak District, hard work in the desert like temperatures, but once at the top it was time to focus on pumping the trail, and using the rutted landscape to gain some free speed. After a long rocky descent and a small stream crossing it was an easy ride back to Hayfield and one last lesson on bunny hops in the car park!
 
If you'd like to improve your riding skills or would like to purchase a skills course voucher for the mountain biker in your life....drop me a line or give me a call, also, check out the Dale Trails website for Dave's feedback on his 1-2-1 skills day.
 Keep on riding...
 
Mojo Trail Diaries with Steve Peat, Guy Martin and Joe Barnes
Here is the latest episode of the FANTASTIC trail diaries, this time it's up to the Scottish Highlands for some all natural trail riding with World Champion downhiller and MTB legend Steve Peat, Joe Barnes the insanely talented  Scottish downhill enduro rider, and of course TT legend and all round top bloke Guy Martin. The group are led by Andy McKenna from Go Where Scotland, I don't think you could imagine a better group of riders to rip the trails with eh? 
 
Well, get a brew on and prep the bike as I reckon you'll be wanting to get out on the bike straight afterwards!!

Mojo Trail Diaries with Peaty, Guy Martin and Joe Barnes

 
Good Friday MTB skills session with Helen and Matt at Lee Quarry - 06 04 12
Had a great Easter Friday skills session up at Lee Quarry with Matt and Helen, the weather held out for us (just!) and M&H really progressed their riding to finish off with a fast and swoopy descent back to the car park.
Matt wanted to do another loop but the rain started and literally made us take a rain check! Watch this space for more vids from today....uploading soon!
 

Well done guys and have a great wedding in 5 weeks time, you know you could always ride down the aisle? just a suggestion ;-)
XC 1-2-1 MTB skills session with Craig on 11 03 12
Last Sunday I was up at Lee Quarry with Craig for a 1-2-1 skills session, the weather was good and the trails were dry and fast....ideal for training.
 
Craig is in training for this months Whinlatter Mountain Bike Challenge up in the Lake District, he wanted to improve his technical skills ready for the race on the 25th, we covered everything from Braking technique to technical Climbing and Descending and manuals to alternative line choice. After a great morning on the trails we put it all into practise on the fast jump and woodland trail descents back to the car park to finish off the session on a high.
 
Good luck with the race Craig!
 
If you want to progress your riding for the summer, have look at the Dale Trails website...remember, the sun is on it's way!
 
This is Peaty teaser trailer....
Due out in April, this web series focuses on the life and times of Steve Peat (Peaty), 2009 Downhill World Champion, multi World Cup downhill champion and all round top bloke from Sheffield. Peaty has been racing in mountain biking since it began and is still at the top of his game, nobody has done more to promote mountain biking in the UK and beyond than our Peaty. Enjoy the teaser and watch this space for the first installment in April!
 

This is Peaty....

  
 
Beginners Skills course at Lee Quarry with Jill, Paul, Kathryn and John
Last Sunday I was up at Lee Quarry with a great bunch of riders all keen to progress their riding ability ready for the spring time. Jill, Paul, Kathryn and John all had differing abilities but as always a back to basics approach revealed a few areas that could be improved upon. We covered everything from riding in the attack position, super smooth braking technique (a firm favourite with the group), pumping the trail, front wheel lifts (manuals) and even drop offs.
 
 
Towards the end of the day we had a final run from the pump track down to the car park taking in the jump trail and the single track woodland run, It took me by surprise the speed at which the group were zooming down the trails, I think they have definately found their trail riding mojo! All they have to do now is keep practising and pumping for that free speed!
 
Danny Macaskill 2012!!
Well, Danny Macaskill is back again with more of his insanely smooth riding style as well as a reflective look back on his riding career from you tube sesnsation to his recent new full time proffesional rider status. Back from injury and getting out on his Inspired trials bike as well as getting the miles in on his Orange 5 (the world's best bike - in my humble opinion) to ride some of Edinburghs gnarly trails. It looks like 2012 is going to be an progressive and exciting one for our Danny.
 

YouTube Video

 
The Ride Journal- Issue 6
Hear ye, hear ye, this Friday 24th February is the launch date of issue 6 of The Ride Journal, a completely different type of bike publication. Not your usual bike mag, the journal is a unique collection of inspiring stories and accounts from the many corners of the cycling world, beautifully illustrated and presented....click on the link below and go and see what all the fuss is about!
http://theridejournal.com/

 
 

It is what it is- Guy Martin visits the Orange MTB factory!

 

Happy New Year everyone!!
Well 2012 is here and another year to fill up with messing about on our bikes, remember, don't wait for spring to arrive, get on your bike in the winter months and see just how much fun you can have with a waterproof jacket on! Happy Trails 
 
RAF Intermediate Skills Course - Lee Quarry - 03 12 11
This Saturday I ran a full days MTB intermediate skills course for four members of the RAF, the guys all had differing levels of riding experience but had all reached a plateau in their riding ability and asked me to design a day of skills that would take them to the next level.
 
The day began by meeting up at the Car park at Lee Quarry trails, on arrival the weather was not what the weather reports had stated, white cloud with sunny spells, instead we were greeted with heavy rain and high winds! But rain or shine we were here to ride, after a quick meet and greet we headed up to the quarry, making light of the angry elements. After a lesson on body position and braking techniques we headed up to the pump track, this was hard going in the high winds but the lads dug in and were soon flowing around the track with ease. A ride up to the trail head to put their new pump and berm skills into practise went well until on the second run some of the group were beginning to become very cold and the wind was ridiculously strong, we decided to head down for an early lunch and a much needed warm up.
 
 
We arrived at the Russian Tea Rooms in Bacup and refueled on good food and lots of hot drinks to thaw us out. We were soon back on the bikes and heading back to the quarry trails, after a quick change of clothes we concentrated on front wheel lifts (manuals) which the lads were eager to master, some a little too eager as we had some comedy "loop outs", remember, keep that back brake covered! We then moved to lower ground to get shelter from the rain and wind to cover rear wheel lifts, bunny hops and finally down to the bottom tabletop jumps to build on their manualing skills at speed and a beginners introduction to jumping.
 
With the light fading fast and everyone tired but buzzing from their "air-time" fun, we had a final blast down the trails to the car park for a summary of the days riding. With the bikes loaded up everyone headed home for a warm bath and a well earned rest.
 
If you or your friends riding has reached a plateau, why not book onto one of my skills courses and learn some cool skills to take your riding to the next level. Check out the courses on the side bar or drop me an email....happy riding!
 
 
Cwm down to Wales - 28/29 09 11
Last week I was down in South Wales to meet up with an old riding buddy and take advantage of the unusually hot weather we were having. So, on Thursday we headed out to Cwmcarn mountain bike trails to ride the Twrch trail red route. The trail was excellent with some great technical climbs and fantastic singletrack descents. The highlight of the day was the Skyline freeride section of the trail with it's multipe switchbacks, jumps and big berms to keep the adrenaline flowing! As the afternoon progressed we were glad to be under the shelter of the trees as the mid afternoon sun did it's best to melt us. Along the way we rode alongside Twmballyn hill which as well as being an ancient celtic hill fort was also a favourite riding spot back in the days before trail centres (showing my age now!). The final section of the trail is a sweet single track descent through the edge of the forest, back to the car park. It was late in the day and unfortunately we did not have time to ride the super fast downhill trails, oh well there's always next time. As the light  faded we headed back towards Newport for a well earned feast and celebratory cider.
 
The next day we caught the train up to Abergavenney and headed out on an all natural trail ride through the Black Mountains, taking in Bal-Mawr and then descending down the rocky trails and through the forest to have a short break and snack stop at the Llanthony Priory. After some photos, jelly babies and lots of water we were off again heading up the steep hillside to join the excellent Offa's Dyke Path. The path was great to ride with multiple rutted line choices and plenty of drop offs all the way down to Glandwr before a race along the roads to catch the train back to Newport. The riding around Abergavenny is open and varied with stunning views across the Black Mountain range. The location is perfect as close by there are also two Welsh trail centres: Cwmcarn and a short distance away Afan mountain bike trails.
 
 
My friend Ian has is a great landscape photographer, he travels far and wide to get the best shots of the British Countryside. Check out his website at : http://www.blackmountainphotographic.com
 
 
Womens "Tyre Side Down " Beginners Skills Course - 25 09 11
This Sunday I ran a tyre side down women only skills course at Hayfield in the Peak District, the weather looked to be overcast but stayed dry. I met Mel, Joy and Karen at the visitors centre where we had an introduction to the attack position before we headed out onto the trails. We climbed up the trail that led us to a great area to teach braking technique. After a few attempts the girls were stopping really quickly and under control, this would give them a huge confidence boost for the day.
 
Further along the girls tackled their first rocky descent followed by a rocky climb where momentum was the order of the day. The girls attacked the climb and with a little coaxing found themselves on top of the climb, it's easy when you know how! Now we got to the long technical climb up and over Chinley Churn, the track becomes very narrow and rutted, looking ahead and keeping up their momentum we were all soon at the top of the climb and ready to take on the  descent down towards peep 'o' day farm. After a fast and exhilerating descent we headed up towards the final (and best) descent of the day past middle moor, with drainage mounds, rocks and banked corners this intense descent really put everyone through their paces. All we had to do now was to roll down to Hayfield and into the fantastic Rosie's Cafe for a huge feast and much needed cuppa!
 
After lunch we headed down to the Sett Valley Trail where I taught the girls front wheel lifts (manuals), this is an essential trail skill and after a bit of fine tuning all the girls had the technique and timing down...good effort. Finally, we had an introduction to good cornering where Joy soon discovered why we don't brake in corners and in turn I had my reactions tested as she zoomed towards me! After mastering their cornering technique we headed back to the car park for some final feedback. The girls have really progressed their riding skills and with more practise they will keep on improving!
 
Check out the photos from the day in the Dale Trails Gallery and if you fancy a try at one of my women only courses have a look at the "Ladies That Shred" course on the sidebar. 
 
 
Skills and thrills at Hayfield! - 28 08 11
On Saturday I was back in Hayfield again to run an intermediate skills course for Reuben and Milton from the Rossendale Valley. They lads are members of the Rossendale Rocky Riders, a mountain bike club who ride each weekend at Lee Quarry and on the fantastic natural trails in and around the valley. The day was split into two halves, the morning ride was a loop focused on honing the skills followed by an afternoon concerntrating on flow and pump.
 
The first loop began with a long but gradual hill which had everyone warmed up for the first session...manualling, Milton and Reuben did really well and were soon timing their manuals to perfection. After a great session on line choice and technical climbing we came to the steep climb up to Chinley Churn. Heading up the rutted bridleway we focused on multiple line choice and how to ride rutts smoothly and effectively. Once at the top it was time for a rest and a refuel before we headed down an excellent rutted trail and out and down the fast sweeping descent to Peep 'o Day farm. Over the road we climbed up to the top of the descent to Coldwell Clough, this descent is twisty and rocky...the perfect place to learn technical descending and flow. Teaching the lads where to ride and how to use the WHOLE trail to keep speed up proved to be a lot of fun and a much needed skill for the afternoon session.
With time a ticking we headed back to Hayfield for lunch at Rosies Cafe and filled up on cake and sandwiches.
 
 
The afternoon session was to be a real test, after a recap on rear whell lifts and bunnyhops we headed up the killer climb towards Kinder Reservoir, this climb proved to be hard work to keep momentum up but we were soon at the top and looking out over the clear views over to Lantern Pike and Glossop in the distance. Now came the best bit, the ride over and down Middle Moor, this bridleway is laced with rutted paths and offers multiple line optons to cross the moor. Making our way across the moors we got to the start of the fast descent where I ran a session on  flow and skill choice over a deeply rutted section with drop offs and rocks. With this new skill still fresh in their minds we raced down the trails hopping between rocks and rutts to eventually pop out onto the road back to Hayfield just as it started to rain. Jackets on now all that remained was some fast singletrack and a final easy ride back into Hayfield Village.
 

The day proved to be very popular and Reuben and Milton really progressed and pushed their riding abilities. All they have to do now is keep practising and expeimenting with different line choices and flow and they'll be on their way!

Reuben and Miltons' mum, Christine is a great photographer, she can snap everything from classic landscape photography to all action shots. Christine will be taking some photos very soon for the Dale Trails website, watch this space!
 
Check ot her photos at: www.christabella.co.uk 
  
 
 
 
14 08 11   1-2-1 skills session at Hayfield
 
It was busy day on Saturday as I met up with Emma who had come all the way from Huddersfield for a skills session. Emma was fairly new to mountain biking and had just got herself a new set of SPD pedals which she had not used off road before. So after adjusting the spings and a quick lesson on unclipping we headed out for the trails.
 
At the first climb we covered gears and body position before tackiling the steep approach, Emma did really well and we were soon over the first hill and ready to cover braking technique which got Emma moving back, dropping her heels and keeping the back wheel loaded. Technical descending and climbing next and Emma surprised herself with a perfect descent and climb with no dabs! We turned off the trail and began to climb the steep rutted ascent to Chinley Churn, again Emma attacked the hill keeping her momentum up and looking ahead for the best line choice. Now at the top of the hill it was chocolate brownie time again, which after an unclipping topple were a very welcome distraction. 
 
Heading down the trail we were soon passing Peep o Day farm and heading over and down fantastic Coldwell Clough and cruised on into Hayfield. Emmas' skills really came on during the ride and once she has her new DMR V8 flat pedals to practise on there will be no stopping her!
Check out the photos in Dale Trails Gallery, and if you fancy trying out my 1-2-1 sessions just click onto the link in the side bar. 
 
 
14 08 11   Tyre side down skills course at Hayfield
 
On a sunny Saturday morning I headed over to Hayfield in the High Peak to meet up with Paul Magner and his family for a "tyre side down" beginners skills course. Paul owns and runs the outdoor adventure racing company Trailplus who organise the excellent trailplus adventure series which I have competed in for the last couple of years (see latest news 02 02 11). They also organise the hell runner and the 8 hour hell rider!
 
We met up in the visitors centre carpark and were soon practising body position before heading down the Sett Valley Trail to warm up. After a climb on a farm track we covered braking technique along with line choice on rocky descents and climbs further along the rocky trail. A sharp turn and we were climbing up Chinley Churn, the going was tough but with a little guidance Paul, Wendy and Patrick made great progress with their climbing technique. At the top I had a reward...chocolate brownies, Patrick seemed to like these and nearly ate my entire weekend stock, still it gave him the energy to complete the ride!
 
 
The climbing done it was time to descend, the trail is rutted and Paul managed to descend this section really well, with the second part of the climb to come all the riders flew down the trail to climb to the best descent of the day...Coldwel Clough. This descent was a good place to put all their new skills into practise and before long we were descending back to Hayfield for a debrief of the mornings ride. Everyone really enjoyed the ride and were keen to get out and practise their skills....but first it was brownie time again!
 
10 07 11    Singletrack Weekender
 
Today I was over at Lee Quarry to cheer on the XC racers in the final event of the Singletrack Weekender that was held at Lee Quarry this weekend. The weather was on and off with sun one minute and light rain the next but I don't think this dampened the spirit of the racers....well maybe not. It was good to see how good the event has become and also how much people have grown to view the quarry as a must visit mountain biking destination. It will only get better with plans for a trail centre and a possible blue route option in the future!
 
 
 
After spending some time talking to riders and handing out leaflets for my courses, it was time for the award ceremony held around the trials area, there were some fantastic final times by riders as well as some comedy awards handed out for things like Best Strop and Finishing with two flat tyres. I will be entering the event next year, especially as this year I was unable to enter due to a road bike accident (but that's another story). So get yourself onto the SW Weekender next year and if you need any skills training in preparation well, you're already on the right website!
 
 
21 06 11 - Summer Solstice Singletrack
 
The longest day of 2011 was a rainy one but with it being the summer solstice and light up until 10 pm it seemed only right to head out and see the day out in the saddle. Heading up to Rooley Moor Road it began to cloud over as we climbed but before long we were turning off onto the great singletrack trails scattered around Scout Moor and Greenbooth Reservoir.
 
After a while the trail started to become a bit vague, so with a little "off piste" riding we soon picked up the route again and began to descend to the reservoir along the fantastic rutted sindletrack. A few more blasts around the lower trails followed by a lesson on rear wheel lifts and the light was fading fast, time to head home, eat food and wave goodbye to the longest day. 
If you want to make the most of your riding time this summer, why not book yourself onto one of my new evening summer skills courses? Just click onto the link in the sidebar to find out more!
 
09 06 11 -  Recce ride - Uppermill and the 4 D's
 
I was out avoiding the rain today to risk assess a route around the Saddleworth Moorland, luckily the afternoon brightened up to be a fantastic sunny day. I will be running a series of skills rides around some of the best trails in the Saddleworth area using Uppermill or Greenfield as a start point. Uppermill is a bustling little village nestled in the middle of four picturesque little villages, Denshaw, Delph, Dobcross and Diggle (or the 4 d's).
 
 
Arriving by train to Greenfield station (25 mins from Manchester Victoria) the ride heads out and climbs up to and over Harrop Edge and down some super techy descents down to the Castleshaw Reservoirs , throw in some Pennine Bridleway and a fantastic rocky descent finale leading you to a cafe stop in Uppermill and a chance to pick up some spares from The Cyclery bike shop before heading back onto the PBW and an easy ride back to the station at Greenfield
The Saddleworth area has some great trails to ride and spectacular views, but to top it all the trails are quiet and rarely ridden often overlooked by trails over at the neighbouring Peak District. This is great news as we have access to all these awesome trails without the crowds!
 
I will be putting up dates for the skills days on the website soon, so why not get yourself booked on and experience some great riding and of course plenty of cake! 
 
 
24 04 11 - Ingleton to Dent and another spoke bent!
 
Bank holiday Sunday and the sun is shining in Ingleton...time to go for a ride somewhere. We headed out over the open moorlands of Keld Head Scar and then back a sweeping descent and onto a short road section which then headed back up onto the tops to Blea Gills to tackle the seriously rutted bridleway which resulted in the first snapped spoke nipple of the day (not a medical condition) until finally the bouncing down the rocky descent into Dent.
Dent is a great little village with quirky twisting cobbled streets, amazing scenery and of course The Sun Inn, a great pub serving good food for the hungry mountain biker. Stocked up we headed out over Great Wold, Ribblehead where the rear wheel suffered the same fate! With only a few miles left we rode back into Ingleton and a well earned brew in the Inglesport Cafe.
 
Riding big natural trails in the Dales always keeps you and your riding on your toes, ever changing terrain and multiple line choice mean you have to really concentrate to keep on flowing. If you want to hone your natural trail riding skills, why not book onto one of my Natural Goodness skills courses and see what all the fuss is about!
 
17 04 11 - Dig Day - Trail repairs at Lee Quarry
 
Last Sunday I was up at Lee Quarry voluteering to help repair some of the new trail features. I met Tony Lund at the car park and luckily got a lift up to the pump track area where a group of riders and volunteers had gathered. After introductions and a run through of what needed to be repaired we set to work, I was helping repair the big upper berm on the new "berm line" run with some guys from Cycle Junkies bike club. The weather was great and soon the berm was dug out and strengthened with stone slabs and packed with wet mud and finally smoothed over. The other group were repairing the inner berm on the new pump track, among them were more cycle junkies and a few members of the Rossendale Rocky Riders! 
 
Elaine from Marmalades B & B in Stacksteads (see links page for details) helped on the dig, as well as sharing out some of her home made cake to the volunteers...Banana Chocolate cake...it's the future! The two main repairs done we all loaded the tools and equipment back into Tony's Landrover and headed out for a play in the quarry. A great way to spend a Sunday morning and it was good to get involved with fixing the trails I ride so much.
 
Get yourself on the next dig day by checking out the PMBA website (see links section) and get involved with helping to build and maintain Lancashires excellent trail network.
 
Remember: The repairs were required because of people riding the new trails before they were bedded in properly. The trails may look dry but until  the tape and cones are removed please don't ride them as this means they will need to be repaired again and therefore more delays on other sections being built.
 
 
02 04 11 - 4th position in the Helly Hansen Adventure Race!
 
This Saturday I was up at Grizedale Forest in the South Lake District to race in the Helly Hansen Adventure Race - The Cumbrian Commotion. The HH series is a multi disipline race which consists of a 12km fell run, 22km mountain bike ride and a 1.5km canoe on Lake Coniston. With nearly 400 teams competing in teams of 3 the start area was bustling and getting muddier by the minute due to the rainy weather!
 
The race would be split into a 2.5km run, 22km mountain bike race followed by a very steep fell run over to Coniston for the Canoeing, then run back over the hills to the finishing straight to do a team plank walk and a final rush under the cargo nets and over the wall to the finish line. 
 
As the start time got nearer the clouds lifted a little and the rain stopped, the first wave were called to the start line and the race was on. A good run up and around the forest and we were back into the transition area and out on the bikes, The course had plenty of fire road climbs with more technical singletrack descents which had a lot of people sliding off on the wet lakeland rock. Back to the transition area and we were out running again up the long steep climb over to Lake Coniston. We arrived at the lake and paddled the canoes around the marked buoys then back out and up the steepest climb back over the Furness Fells. After catching our breath it was a long and slippery descent back towards the start field. We kept up a good pace on the team plank ski's and finally under and over the cargo net and wall to the finish. We only then realised that we were in 4th position....result!
 
The team had a great day and we claimed our free "For goodness shakes" recovery drinks and our prize Buffs whilst attempting to stretch out our tired legs. If you want to have a go at the Helly Hansen Adventure Race Series it will be starting up again in October, the events are well organised and great fun. For more information go to the Trail plus website and see what other races and events they are organising for 2011/12.
 
 
 
29 03 11 - Dale Trails in the Tweed Valley
 
I was up in Scotland last weekend riding the XC and downhill tracks at Innerleithen as well as the Glentress Red, Black and Freeride trails. The purpose of the visit (apart from riding some of the UK's best mountain bike trails) was to compare the trail centres that we have in North West England such as Lee Quarry, Cragg Quarry and Gisburn Forest to the Scottish forestry based trail centres.
 
With all the new developments at Lee Quarry such as the second larger pump track and the gnarly drop off lines, we now have a freeride area similar to Glentress, but a lot rockier and more technical. The new pump track is an ideal step up from the first original pump track and offers even more line choice and a chance to hone your skills.  
             
               
 Cragg Quarry has a new extended section of trail that diverts around the original linking valley climb to make for a more exciting and flowy ride. With this new built section the loop now makes for a fantastic training trail, either for getting yourself to race fitness or mastering that all important flow by pumping the trail to get some free speed.
 
Add into the mix the link route over to Lee Quarry from Rooley Moor Road with it's 30 rock jumps and numerous rollers and you have an area that offers an all day riding experience unlike anywhere else in the UK. 
 
I will be running skills courses at Cragg and Lee Quarry this spring and Summer including a Natural Goodness skills course on the local trails around the South Pennines, more details coming soon! 
 
 
 
 

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