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!

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If you go down to the woods today

Why not? An invite to ride one of my favourite locations on a slippery and muddy afternoon in January with a bunch of like minded fools – couldn’t turn that down.

It also gave me chance to try out the Hero Session for the first which I thought worked great – proper review coming.

Anyway, a great few hours were spent in the Forest of Dean, away from the trail centre on secret (no so) trails that are fast becoming very popular among riders other than the locals.

We only rode about 20km but managed to find around 7 or 8 descending tracks and had plenty of fun.

Just watch the video!

Lead the way

fodmtb ride with a guide

There is nothing more satisfying for me as a mountain biker than riding somewhere new. Riding in a new location, twisting along singletrack and dropping into bomb holes that I have never seen before brings back the thrill of my first mountain bike rides.

So when I saw that FOD MTB did guided rides through the Forest of Dean I knew it had to be done. The trail centre is one of my favourites with its natural feel and great mix of singletrack and technical features – so a ride away from the sign posted routes was going to be interesting.

It was an early start for us and we left at around 7am to be sure we got to the Pedalabikeaway centre in plenty of time for our start at 9am. We met Paul and Mattie (our guides for the morning) and a few other riders for a safety briefing before heading off.

Starting with some fire road and a short section of the Verderers, we soon picked up part of the Enduro route. These routes are off the beaten track and not maintained like the main trails, so extra caution is needed as they are not cleared of sticks, rocks or leaves. Jumps, drops and stream crossings do not necessarily have clearly defined entrances or exit points so listening to some basic advice from the guides is vital.

Each section of trail was clearly explained before we rode it; this was everything from a simple just “follow me and try not to fall in the water” to a proper stop and look at a jump or drop to see if you felt you had the nerve or the skill to have a go.

Before long we were twisting our way through parts of the forest that I had never been to before and we were heading for the first of the surprises Paul had in store for us. At well paced intervals we were met with a drop or small jump to test our skill and nerve, between them was some great singletrack and natural riding. No berms or table tops, no wooden bridges to cross streams – all natural twisty trails.

The first half of our ride culminated in a huge near vertical drop followed immediately by some steep loamy trail and another technical drop onto a fire road. Straight after we were into a fast flowy section that had everyone smiling.

Only the guides did the big drop – it was really big and steep and the whole section was probably one of the most technical parts of the ride. We will be going back to take another look no doubt.

As the ride progressed, we were met with more trail features and some pretty big jumps – not to be taken lightly! I was pleased with myself for doing the jumps I did, and equally as happy to have not done to ones I avoided. All the time the guides gave us plenty of notice and time to take a look before attempting them. The only pressure you were under to jump a stream or gap was your own.

This ride wasn’t just about nerve and skill, there was plenty of picturesque singletrack to enjoy also. One particular section will certainly be on the list for a visit with my camera as spring progresses as it promises to be full of bluebells.

The final section of the ride involved some of the jumps hinted at above. A small stream gap and some other jumps required confidence and commitment, not just because of the gaps involved but also the not so straightforward entry and exits. Definitely something to work up to, and to master, to fully appreciate the natural terrain.

In summary, the 4 of us that travelled from Calne had a great time and enjoyed some new experiences in terms of terrain and trail obstacles. Huge thanks to Paul and Mattie from FODMTB for showing us some of the lesser known parts of the Forest of Dean. I think I speak for us all in saying we thoroughly enjoyed it, would recommend to anyone and will be booking again so we can discover some more of the hidden gems of the forest.

For more info visit http://www.fodmtb.com

Planning Ahead

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Sunday morning rides have been great over the last few months but its time to start going further afield. So I’m feeling pretty excited cos I have some proper biking plans on the calendar now.

1st March – This coming Saturday a few of us are off to Cwmcarn. A ride of the Twrch and the Cafall are in order I think. Should be fun and hard work all at the same time. Might even try the new DH run – PedalHounds I think its called.

21st March – This is going to be a proper bit of mountain biking. 4 of us have opted for a guided ride around some of the excellent singletrack at the Forest Of Dean. Singletrack descents, drops and maybe some adrenalin fueled nonsense!  GoPro will have to be charged with spare batteries for 3 hours of frolics in the forest.

16th April – North Wales Weekender with MB Swindon – This is my bike holiday for the year, unless I can squeeze in another weekend or two at some point.  We stay in Dolgellau and will be riding Coed-y-Brenin, maybe Llandegla, will be doing some classic local routes around Cadair Idris and the famous Pont Scethin trail as well as maybe hitting Cannock Chase on the way home.

1st May – May Day! May Day! Finally after a year of it being open I have myself an uplift booked for Bike Park Wales.  Nuff Said!

Stay tuned!

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