#BikeParkWales – penblwydd hapus

Was this really the first time I had been this year? There have been a few race/events, camping, weekends away bikepacking, North Wales big mountain and trail centres and Lake District (wow I’ve been busy)… Anyway I recently returned to BikePark Wales for the first time since October 2015 and I forgot how much fun it was!

Its unusual for me to not take a photo or video when I go out on a bike. I like to remember the day and  photo does seem to serve well to do this. But this time, no camera, no phone and no GoPro – purely focused on my riding and not worrying about the camera being on or stopping to snap a mate or a view. How different was my GoPro footage going to look from the last time anyway?

The usual trails were ridden, can I say “shredded”?, I’m not really a shredder or a ripper of trails though some times I think I’m doing just! Anyway, we did the usual Blue / Red mash up with a bit of Black peppered here and there for good measure.

Sixtapod is the gang’s usual favourite for a warm up, but this time we went straight for the new Blue/Red mix of Terry’s Belly and Hot Stepper.

Terry’s Belly was a highlight addition to BPW last year lauded as the longest blue descent  in the UK. Its good fun with berm after berm threading you through the trees and steadily down the hillside just out side of Merthyr Tydfil but I did find it a bit repetitive.

But now the Hot Stepper section was open, breathing some Red graded life into the top section of this 4.6km smooth trail. The teaser trailer from BikePark Wales showed a trail with a more natural feel to it than its berm heavy brother. Taking some steeper lines down the mountain side and opening up at time to give you a choice of drops and lines to take it really is one the most fun trails I’ve ridden in a while.

The only down side is you have to finish with the bottom end of Terry’s Belly. As I said above its a great swoopy trail with some fantastic berm action – its just it gets a bit repetitive towards the end and I long for some more roots and drops.

I guess this is my personal taste. There is nothing wrong with a long bermy trail if you like that sort of thing.  My preference is something more technical.

This is the beauty of a bike park! You can mix up your trails, have break from the lumps and bumps and ride a smooth trail. Or test yourself through a black section before going back to the comfort of your favourite trail.

Starting at 10am means that come 4pm the arms are aching, the brake pads are thinning and the beer is calling. The end of another visit and for me personally another day of learning a little more about me and the bike – mostly I learn how I need to push myself more when it comes to jumping.

Oh and by the way Happy Birthday BikePark Wales – 3 years today!

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Coed y Brenin – Bring it on

Coed y Brenin – Bring it on
The Foundry Skills Area at Coed Y Brenin
The Sideways Slab at Coed Y Brenin

This year I have been focusing on improving my skills and basically plucking up the courage to do more stuff on the bike.

It started with a trip to UK Bike Skills and has continued with me pushing myself where ever I get the chance. Continue reading “Coed y Brenin – Bring it on”

What can Ryan Leech Teach?

Ryan Leech is a bit of a trials bike legend who I first saw on the Extreme Sports channel popping up in episodes of Ride Guides. I did a little bit of BMX as kid but nothing that comes close to trials riding, but I have always loved to watch skills vids and edits from the likes of Danny Macaskill and Chris Akrigg.

In particular I like Chris Akrigg as he takes the trials skills to the trails.

Anyway, I’ve always tried to push myself on technical sections and roots. I don’t shy away from logs in the path and I like a track stand challenge. So when the opportunity to subscribe to Ryan Leech’s online skills course came along I thought I’d have a look!

http://ryanleech.com

At first it seems a little odd to be taught riding skills on the internet in this way but Ryan’s mixture of text and video explains things in a simple way and provide you with progressive lessons to hone your skills.

I have only just started to give his online course a try and have so far been impressed with the way he breaks down things like track stands and slow turns into their component parts.

As with my session at UK Bike Skills this is going to be a slow process of making sure I’m using the right techniques and then applying them on the trail. The difference between learning to jump or drop and learning some slower speed skills, is that I can drill them in the garden or in my lunch break.

Stay tuned and I’ll keep you posted on how I get on. In the mean time check me out turning around on my bike in the garden!  Sounds silly but these little exercises hone your trail skills and bike handling.

 

Stage 3 – Conscious competence

 
Today was a revelation. 2 days after coaching at UK Bike Skills I was eager to test what I had learnt on some technical trails with plenty of jumps and drops.

Muscle memory kicks in too easily and I had to make a real effort to put into practice what Tony aka Jedi had taught me on Friday. But this is a good thing – it’s the 3rd stage of competence – Conscious Competence.

The individual understands or knows how to do something. However, demonstrating the skill or knowledge requires concentration. It may be broken down into steps, and there is heavy conscious involvement in executing the new skill.

Knowing where I was needing to make adjustments, and realising that I was doing a few things the wrong way was frustrating as I am not a perfectionist but still don’t like to be wrong!

The real positive however was my confidence was up and I felt in control all day, even on the muddy slippery trails at the Forest of Dean.

What a blast and on the few occasions where I was able to implement me new found jumping skills it was amazing how good it felt.

Next stop North Wales!