The KIDS are alright!

Sometimes kids are frustrating, stubborn and hard work but there’s a whole other side of them and it’s one that we always try and see. There is real joy is their open mindedness, bravery, willingness to give stuff a go, straight down the line honesty and matter of fact assessment and recognition of fairness. Their confidence that blossoms in the right environment with the right support. Their willingness to listen, learn and achieve. We could all learn a lot from them.

We’re running KIDS CAMP courses at Glentress for the fifth year in 2015. Glentress mountain biking sessions for kids went off the radar for a while but we are happy to fix that and our KIDS CAMP and other products for younger riders are really a great success story. These courses give all those kids, the one’s who ride every day and the one’s who do it a few times over summer, a great start to their riding for years to come.

Mountain Biking Glentress KIDS lessons

We’ve worked a lot with young riders over the years. We run specific family days and kids mountain bike lessons at RIDELINES because we know the needs of a family are different. Over the years we’ve developed courses that get the best out of young riders – we know how they tick (until they move the goalposts again). But hey, at least we know they do that too!

We have an opportunity to play a tiny part in their lives, to influence them for just a small time and hopefully give them an experience that will give them more belief in themselves, boost their confidence – not just on a bike but believe that they can surmount personal obstacles and challenges, give them a strong sense of personal achievement and empowerment.

KIDS Glentress Mountain Biking lessons

Oh, and give them a great start on a mountain bike with some mighty fine biking skills to make sure they get the most out of their riding, push themselves and set personal goals that they maybe thought were beyond them and you never know, maybe even show their mum and dad a thing or two.

The Easter and Summer mountain biking KIDS CAMP provide progressive tuition. Getting them out, getting active having a blast and learning new confidence inspiring skills. It’s about learning core bike handling techniques but it’s got to be fun straight from the off. Bring it on! It’s going to be proper fun!

RIDELINES KIDS CAMP dates are available to book online || KIDS CAMP – Check dates | Book sessions

Tweedlove – Tweed Valley Awesome!

Simple ideas are the best. Oatcakes. Wool socks. Lock on grips. Wide bars, short stem. Porridge. A festival of all things cycling in the place we love best? Hmmmm.

TweedLove: A week of riding and good times. Simple see.

Who’s up for it? Well, everybody in the Tweed Valley it turns out. So that helps. The ideas guys were right there with a week of amazing events and activities lined up and realised with the commitment and time of many small businesses, individuals, organizations and sponsors.

Knowing the faces behind the event we saw them fired up and ready to bring Love to all those that visited us during TweedLove week. Over the course of the week, the bags under the eyes got darker, the shoulders slumped a fraction more, the hands got rougher, the stride a tiny bit shorter, the bones a bit colder (the weather gods were being particularly cruel that week) and the smiles got broader….as each event passed with success.

An amazing array of events, one’s that you quite simply wouldn’t get at any other week long cycling event. So what did you miss? A seven hour enduro with event village, local ride-outs with locals sharing their trails, a town centre crosslove event and family ride, EWS weekend, disco balls and dancing, GT7 with 7 hours of racing with great vibes, natural bike country riding for 200 people on a massive natural ride in the amazing terrain and landscapes of the Valley and discounted Tweedlove special tuition sessions from us.

Nic Jenkins - RIDELINES mountain bike instructor

RIDELINES had representation at the 7, which has gone down in TweedLove history as being “Haha hahahahahaha haha, one of the best races I’ve ever taken part in”.  They may have had low blood sugar though.

Andy and Christine were digging deep. Apparently lap 3 almost didn’t happen but Christine just thought of her sponsors and got the hell back out there…. If she was doing it the RIDELINES way she should have stopped and had a nice cup of hot chocolate instead.

The story of 2015 TweedLove will be retold over many a hot cup of coffee, glass of wine and pint of beer. Well done all.

Our tyres were one of the last to come in for TweedLove 2015.  There’s a world of volunteers making these events happen and we should all be grateful for the dedication, selfless commitment to their communities and the wider MTB community and the behind the scenes “no credit taking” attitude from those who genuinely make amazing things happen.  Thank you. RIDELINES were just one of the small businesses that contributed some of our time, some of our expertise and some of our products as prize booty to the event.

It was the least we could do. Bring on next year.  http://tweedlove.com/

Mountain Biking Essentials – Progressive Rider Improvement Tips

We’ve been around since 2006 and professional mountain bike instructor the RIDELINES team have taught thousands of riders to become better mountain bikers. Whether you want to rail berms, start your airborne career, improve your jumping or take charge on roots, rocks and technical trail features, these essential tips will get you started and help you get more comfortable and confident on the bike.

#1 Work on being both Strong and Flexible

When you’re climbing or pedaling on fire road or non technical trail, you’ll be fine if you just stay in the saddle. When you’re riding technical terrain, especially descending, you need to move out of the saddle and stand on your pedals (keeping them level) with a slight bend in your knees and elbows and keep your tail up (show your butt off), waist, and elbows. It’s an athletic stance that helps absorb the bumps in the trail. It also prevents you from getting pushed around in the process as it allows the bike to freely move around under your body. We call it “bike and body separation”.

NATURAL MOUNTAIN BIKING TWEED VALLEY

#2 Tune Your Balance

When you’re riding up steep inclines, down rock slopes, and powering through corners, it’s important to move on your bike. Shift your weight forward while climbing to keep the front wheel tracking. Allow the bike to roll forward underneath you on descents but be careful not to shift too much weight back as you still need to keep the front wheel gripping. It is, after all, the wheel that steers. Riding switchbacks shift your weight to the outside to counteract the pull to the inside.

#3 Weight / Unweight

To roll a drop, pump through a trail, or get air off a ledge, you need to learn to weight and unweight your bike. Sometimes it’s one wheel at a time. Other times you need to work on both wheels at the same time. In either case, compressing and releasing (once you’re practiced in the technique), plus creating and managing pressure, will make your riding more dynamic and fluid.

#4 Use Both Brakes

Use your brakes like dimmers not light switches—feather them, don’t grab them. This will help you control your speed while riding down the trail and stop efficiently and effectively when you want to.

How do I ride enduro

#5 Ride the Right Bike

Know where and how you ride, and where and how you want to ride in the future. With the help of a good quality retailer find a bike that fits your style and the terrain where you live. Local bike shops will give you the best advice that will exactly suit you and your riding. Go on – ask them, they are usually a friendly and helpful bunch.

#6 Progression Is Key

Success breeds confidence, and confidence breeds success. It’s tempting to take on too much and try to achieve great leaps or lots of different techniques in one day, but you’ll go further by taking small steps. Move between smaller challenges to bigger ones gradually and you’ll be less likely to panic and fall back into bad ‘survival’ habits.

#7 Think Positive

If you ride a tough off camber rooty section of trail and think you’re going to fall off, guess what? You’re likely going to fall off. You’ll be tense and probably looking to the side with your weight back, and that’s not a recipe for success. If you think you can ride the feature, you’ll likely be looking ahead, staying athletic, relaxed but focused and balanced on your bike. That’s how to master a tricky feature.

ridelines_course_level_2_03

#8 Look Ahead

“It’s the key to everything you do: ride the trail with your eyes before you roll it. You go where you look, so look where you want to go,”. And don’t just look with your eyes—your head, torso, hips and knees should all point where you’re headed.

#9 Remember Your Successes

Remember and acknowledge the miles you’ve covered, the technical challenges you’ve overcome, and the great bits of every ride, and you’ll be anxious to keep progressing, improving and setting yourself new challenges.

Want to bring all these tips together in the flesh and out on the trail? Take a lesson. Having someone assess your riding and give advice specific to your needs whether that’s mental barriers or niggly bad riding habits will go miles toward making you a better rider. It will also make your time on the bike that much more fun.

Navigation is difficult isn’t it?

Navigation is difficult isn’t it?  Once you know how it’s done it’s logical,  the key is lots of practice and actually bothering to practice so the information doesn’t just march right back out of your brain will definately help you.  We are by nature as a species a bit lazy so if we think it’s not necessary to do something, then we won’t. Such an economical attitude with navigation can end up with mistakes that take longer to resolve than making the extra effort in the first place.

For a map to work, it requires three elements to be taken into account and an ability to identify and use each effectively. You need to be able to define direction, you need to be able to measure distance and you need to recognise symbols to represent the landscape around you.

UK Mountain Bike Leader Award UKMBLA TCL

DIRECTION || To give direction, you need a fixed reference point and on maps that is always north. All OS maps have a grid, which is made up of vertical grid lines that run north-south and horizontal grid lines that run east-west. North is at the top of the map and most text is aligned to be read with north at the top.  The importance of map orientation cannot be over-emphasised. Whichever method you use, it should be the first thing you do every time you look at the map. Get to know your northings and eastings and how to read and use these in your calculations.

DISTANCE || To measure a distance off a map you need to know the scale of the map. The most commonly used scales in the UK for mountain bikes are 1:50,000 and 1:25,000.

A scale of 1:50,000 simply means that 1 unit on the map represents 50,000 units on the ground. Most people find it easier to think of how many cm to the km. And as the navigation becomes more complex it is useful to think how many mm on the map represents 100m on the ground.

1:50,000 = 2cm to the km, 2mm = 100m  and 1:25,000 = 4cm to the km, 4mm = 100m

The edge of most compasses should have a ruler graduated in mm. This enables you to measure distance off the map and convert it to distance on the ground.

TCL, MBLA and UKMBLA courses in Scotland

SYMBOLS || Find some time to open out your map fully and look at all the information in the legend and around the border of the map. As well as a full legend to the symbols used on the map. Get to know all your symbols and keys so you know exactly what you are likely to encounter in reality. Familiarise yourself with contours – this is simply a line of equal height. The height difference between successive contours is called the contour interval. OS maps have a 10m interval. Every 5th contour is thicker to make it stand out on the map and these are called index contours. Understanding contours and being able to see a clear 3D image of the ground represented by the 2D pattern of the contours is a really helpful skill. Just think “The Matrix”.

To be able to navigate with map and compass you will need to get some experience. Go to a familiar area and get used to orienting your map correctly, use your compass to check you have oriented the map correctly.  Identify the landscape features around you and track them back to the map symbols and markings, think about the terrain and tie it back to the contours and the landscape features around you  get to grips with measuring and accurately measuring distances.  Having an estimation of the distance travelled to add to your mental description of your journey helps increase the accuracy of your positioning for your new location.

A really great resource to further understand and practice reading maps is provided free of charge from Ordnance Survey in this handy Downloadable PDF – Map Reading from Easy to Advanced.  No excuses, get out and practice your navigation!

 

 

Spend Thrifty

There’s something compulsive in all cyclists. An irresistable urge, a condition, an obsession, a chronic addiction, it’s irresistable and probably incurable. What am I on about? Buying new bike stuff.

Grippy pedals, shorter stem, wider bar, stiffer bolt thru fork, lighter rims, more accurate shifters. Got to have the colour co-ordinated bolt on grips and matching seat collar, can’t live without the smooth, sweet rolling hub, sure like the look of those 2.3’s with the faster rolling stick-e rubber.

We know. Because we do it too. A slightly embarrassed shuffle when the next door neighbour comes round with yet another box or we swing in with a carrier bag stuffed full of goodies.

It’s retail therapy and it feels good.
So, what’s your point caller? We’re not here to tell you not to buy stuff. In fact, go for it – it makes us feel good. And it will make your bike handle better in many cases, to a point. And that’s my point.

Getting new kit is brilliant and gives you a warm fuzzy glow inside but it won’t make you an instant hero on your mountain bike.

We had a client not too long ago who admitted he was on his fifth set of new tyres in six months. He was having a problem with his cornering, he spent hours researching rubber compounds and grip patterns. Hans Rey using these one’s, those one’s are dual compound, wider, knobblier, super tacky. You get the picture. Turns out he was having problems because his technique was all over the place. After the session with us his cornering was at last on-track; exit point sight line fixed, controlled speed in and faster out, feet position corrected,  body position corrected,  purposeful weight shift, timing fine tuned, pump out of the corner. Job done.

We were told just this week that a tuition session was “.. the best £120 I’ve ever spent on my bike.” It’s not the first time we’ve been told that either.

So, buy stuff. Buy loads of stuff. Enjoy it. But don’t think it’s going to be a magic fix for all the riding niggles and confidence shaking near misses. If you want to get good, get some help. You’d never dream of going white water rafting or hauling yourself up a rockface without some advice from someone who knows all about it. Mountain biking is not such a different sport.

So, our advice is consider getting some tuition.  Get out and put it all into practice. Get good. Work on your technique not just your kit.

It’s ultimately all about the riding and your post tuition confidence and the techniques learnt will make you ride faster with more control and get you riding technical terrain with style. As we say ‘Skills to put in your back pocket forever’.

You’ll probably look even better once your bike has those colour co-ordinated spokes and CNC machined 2014 T6 (XR400, Crest, 717) aluminium rims with 2mm brass nipples with Q/r & 15mm Conversions though Hmmmm….

A dirty six letter word and nine reasons to not let it bother you

That most miserable mountain biking companion that pops up at the end of every year. What is it? Winter.

By the time it comes around again us mountain bikers have slightly forgotten about it since last year when we put it in the ‘file under grimness’ box and popped it up on the shelf once there was the slightest hint of good weather, lighter evenings, warmer days, dry(ish) trails, maps that took us out over the hills and planned adventures in the balmy sunlight of long evenings.

It’s a mild one so far but there’s no reason to not head out on the bike. We know it’s kind of cold, it’s dark, it’s wet, there’s a lot of other ‘things’ that you can be getting on with. Well.

Here’s 9 reasons why you should ride instead……

#1  Is it a problem? The weather is only a problem if you make it one. Mountain biking is one of those great sports that is genuinely possible in all but the worst conditions. Set yourself some small targets or big learning challenges. Winter is a great time to focus on the things you want to fix, change, improve. Riding in Winter you’re bound to encounter mud, and if you live in Scotland they you’re likely to find a lot of it.

Try and anticipate it, keep your speed up but drop your gears to keep spinning through the slowdown when you hit it, if you try and grind through it with a big gear you’ll quickly find yourself grinding to a boot sinking halt. Stay light on the bike to let the front wheel find the way through the gunk and keep your body position low, out the saddle, hips off the back and flexed arms so you can keep the weight off the front wheel, lightening the front wheel will help get you through.

#2 See it from a different angle. The same trails you ride in the dry take on a very different angle once you set out in wet, muddy conditions with slippy roots and hub deep puddles. Keeping riding in Winter will stand you in good stead maintaining a decent level of fitness and will definitely make sure your technical skills will be improved and not blunted. You’ll notice the difference once you head out in Spring and the conditions are improved with a whole handful of Winter riding experiences and challenges under your belt.

#3 Session stuff. Instead of heading off in the car miles away or trying to cram in a big ride with failing afternoon light find a local trail or woodland not far from home with some suitably challenging features and session it. If you hate wet slimy roots make it a challenge to overcome. Technical climbing, there no better time to get it right. Even an hour or so once or twice a week will see huge riding improvements and some no pressure fun. Fast riding on cross country trails in winter’s slippery conditions is all about staying relaxed and keeping movements smooth and your riding fluid to make sure you get the best grip possible.

#4 Get some friends togetherand a decent set of night lights and get some night riding in. It’s a hoot and feels totally different even if you’re riding a trail that you’ve ridden to death all year.

A helmet mounted light is best if you can only afford one (and if you’re minted a handy wide beam handlebar light is an additional option) – make sure you look where you want to go and look as far along the trail as possible. If you start off on a familiar trail it will give you a bit of extra confidence and just take it from there.

#5 Use it as fitness training. Reduce the distance and increase the intensity. It might be grim but it won’t last for long and you can head home in an hour knowing you’ve put in a good effort.

#6 Get the right kit. Dress for the conditions. Layer up and wear at least one base layer, merino wool layers are great and a personal favourite. Long bib tights will keep you warm and the high waist will protect vital organs from the cold. If you can’t handle the lycra then three quarter liner shorts or a foxy pair of long johns will keep you toasty. Get some waterproof riding trousers or ¾ shorts to keep the blood flowing and it goes without saying a good quality waterproof cycling specific jacket is a must in all conditions especially here in Scotland. Winter cycling gloves are essential, keep your digits in the game and prevent frozen finger crashes. A hefty investment but one you will never regret when you go out and ride is winter is Winter specific riding shoes and combined with waterproof socks that finish the deal. Definitely a more comfortable experience when you’ve got your kit just right.

#7 Learn to ride in snow. It only comes out to play in Winter so use it as an opportunity to learn some new skills. Stay light on the bike with a body position over the centre of the bike and your hips behind the saddle and a low body position to keep the front wheel as light as possible, your arms will be flexed and can adjust for any drops in the trail or weight going forward onto the front wheel.

You can use your hips and heels to push through your feet if the front wheel starts to sag. Powder snow is less likely to catch you out with an unexpected hard packed icy section so use it if you can, it also helps if you need to scrub some speed and you want to avoid hauling on the brakes.

#8 You get to feel smug. When everybody else rolls out their excuses why they didn’t and you did.

#9 It’s always worth going out. Conditions might not be perfect but you’ll still enjoy it once your wheels are turning. Stop making excuses and do it.