British Cycling Mountain Bike Leadership Questions Answered.

We’ve received a lot of enquiries recently about coaching and guiding qualifications and how they are attained. This blog may just help you answer these questions?

Enter: The fun Police…

A story of caution & responsibility. Readable in less than 3 minutes?

This could be any day. It has actually many days. if fact, you’d be surprised how many days it turned out to be! Here is a tale of woe that ruined 5 peoples day and a young man’s month. (I assume)

It’s a recent Saturday and I’m standing in the buzzards Nest Car Park at Glentress. I have my mountain bike tuition hat on. Fully fed, rested and motivated, I put down my risk assessment and start chatting with my client. It was a windy morning, but I swear I heard a voice shout “help” Hmmm, I thought? “HELP” came the cry once more. Did you hear that? I said to my client. Hear what? he said. HELP… we need HELP! Shouted a flailing figure emerging from the freeride Area.

Long story short, there were 3 lads, early 20s on recreational, low end hard-tails, dressed for the spring and completely unprepared for the scene that was waiting for me. Their friend, a young man in his early 20’s was out cold, not moving, with his extremities pointed in every directing apart from the right ones. In and out of conciseness, freezing cold with the side of his face swollen and cut in a bad way. He’d apparently ridden the wooden drops and hit the jump at the bottom carrying way too much speed, hit the jump, then cartwheeled his way to unconsciousness. A pretty serious accident as it turned out.

I won’t go into the details of how these guys did not have any idea what to do with their friend, who to call or what to tell them this situation. But by the end of the whole scenario he was in a state of continuing shock and borderline hypothermic despite lying on a matt with my coat on, a silver blanket on, an orange blanket on and inside an emergency shelter. At the time, this one really did seem like a close call.  The guys didn’t know his full details, his full name, his next of kin, any of his friends and family or pertinent information about him either. They were friends from Uni just out to ride at Glentress. Their pal was also the driver, so they were stuck at Glentress in the rain with a broken bike and the worry of it all.

So the upshot of this all was the following:

  • One seriously injured young man with a potentially serious head injury.
  • Two stranded, cold and shocked young guys.
  • A callout for both the Police and ambulance service.
  • A wasted 100m round trip for me. (had to cancel my client)
  • Possible loss of earnings for me.
  • A wasted journey for my client.
  • A possible refund for my client with possible bad press for Ridelines.
  • Cost of equipment left at the scene.
  • Ongoing medical consequences for the downed rider.

Now accidents will happen, but these guys were just out of their depth in challenging conditions, riding beyond their capabilities. The picture below is the result.

Medical Emergency at Glentress

A while ago we posted on facebook about the amount of time and money we spent on first aid over just one month this summer. The post caused a lot of feedback, and although not one of these costs incurred were spent one our clients, being on the hill with a big backpack and a uniform essentially puts a target on your back for such things. I’m sure lots of our colleagues at other MTB companies can relate?

So in short this is not a lecture, more of a cautionary tail. Be prepared folks, know your limits and how to act should you be as unfortunate as our friends above. Heres a few tips.

For mechanicals try to carry at least the following:

  • A spare tube.
  • Tyre levers.
  • A quality pump.
  • A quality multitool with a chain-tool.
  • A spare “quick link” for your chain.

For your wellbeing:

  • At least a litre of water.
  • Some high carb food or energy bars.
  • A fully charged phone.
  • Some money.
  • A small first aid kit.

It goes without saying that you should know how to change a tube (video here) and join a chain (video here) you’d be surprised at how many people that carry stuff don’t know how to use it. Your first aid kits need mainly bandages and stuff to stop bleeding as apart from broken bones, bleeding is easily the most common symptom of an accident that we come across.

A rule of thumb (not hard and fast) an ambulance will usually only efficiently attend an actual postcode, so at least have that. Although these can be miles in length and useless if you have no door number. Usually though out on more remote trails and trail centres, you should be calling the police and asking for Mountain Rescue. For that, you’ll likely need a grid reference. There’s plenty of free phone apps that will do that for you too. But really it’s best to know where you are and be able to read a map to a basic level.

Also, you could get yourself on a first aid course? You’d be amazed at the minimum you could do just to make someone comfortable or even save their life?

Anyway, have a great 2019, be safe out there and look after your MTB brothers and sisters!


The highlights of our year

Everyone has the odd day where they feel like they just plod along right? We can tell you that there have been more than a few times that we have looked out the window, sat in the van just thinking that we’d rather be somewhere else than out in the wilderness in the freezing cold, wet weather? But this probably falls into the less than 1% category of days we find ourselves giving skills lessons or guiding people out on Mountain bike rides. We genuinely love what we do.

Offering mountain bike skills lessons in Glentress counts us amongst the luckiest instructors out there. Fabulous facilities, great countryside, great people and the support of the community around us makes our job that little bit more special. When laying on Guided mountain bike rides for big groups, the surrounding hills and valleys have views for miles that change with every season. This is why the Tweed Valley is such a special place to be based. Mountain Bike Skills Tuition has been our tagline for years, but in 2018 the business has wandered all over the map with regards to how we have seen different groups of people react to mountain biking.

Our “bread and butter” has always been MTB skills instruction and theres no end in sight to seeing clients enjoy the new techniques we’ve given them. But this year has seen us reach out beyond the singletrack and try to reach more people than ever with  the message that mountain biking and cycling in general can be fun for almost anyone. Heres a few highlights of the diversity of 2018.

  • Mountain bike Skills Courses.

We’ve continued to grow our scheduled courses at Glentress & Innerleithen. With courses like Enduro-Prep and and our Intermediate skills group courses, we’ve been amazed by the way riders can gain confidence in just 6 hours of riding. We’ve learned so much from these courses as they are totally inclusive and pressure free. Our 1:1 clients continue to grow too. It’s a totally different dynamic and tends to be a little more “colloquial” in its nature. Some of the funniest and most rewarding days on the hill come from our Skills lessons.


Ridelines Mountain Bike Enduro Skills Coaching

Ridelines Mountain Bike Enduro Skills Coaching at Innerleithen

  • Guided Mountain Bike Rides.

Fewer of these happen as people get more adventurous on their bikes and learn to be better equipped to travel further into the wilderness. But this year has been a bumper year for our guides too. Stag do’s, work colleagues and just groups of pals up for a holiday can form the basis of a great group ride. W’ve dealt with clients from all over the world too. On one day out this year Allan has a Scotsman, South African, Canadian, an Israeli and a German out on a ride. Truly amazing not that they picked Ridelines, but that they picked Scotland to ride their bikes.


We guide hundreds of mountain bikers around Scotland every year

  • Leadership Training.

As most will know, Ridelines is one of the leading centres in the country for training and assessing candidates for the British Cycling Mountain Bike Leader program (UKMBLA) The three levels of MBL awards are very demanding on both the tutor and clients, but the reward for both is very high indeed. We love knowing that we’re helping to create responsible riders that will pass on the the skills and techniques of effective leadership to other riders that may decide to go the whole way to qualifying as leaders themselves. This year, a record number of candidates came through the program and the quality was incredible. From MTB clubs, charities and local authorities to workplace colleagues and independently adventurous individuals, the UKMBLA is starting to appeal to a huge demographic within the MTB community.


Ridelines: British Cycling Mountain Bike Leader award.

Every year ridelines create dozens of new MTB Leaders.

  • Kids Camps.

Where do we start? Kids Camp started as a 2 week project in the Scottish summer holidays. A few years later and in 2018 we hosted 8 weeks of Kids Camp in Easter, Summer and the October holidays. That’s 192 kids just on the Scheduled courses alone! A big effort on the part of our instructors is needed to keep these little rippers interested and focussed on the task, which is of course FUN! 2019 Ridelines Kids Camps will see 10 weeks of courses offered scheduled throughout the school holidays. A whopping commitment from Ridelines in response to a very high demand in requests for camps to be held across both Scottish and English school breaks.

Ridelines Kids Camp has 10 weeks scheduled in 2019

Ridelines Kids Camp has 10 weeks scheduled in 2019!

  • Easyriders & Women’s Courses.

Easyriders was a Borders Council initiative to get more women on their bikes in the Peebles and Innerleithen area. Needless to say in we stepped with an offer to run the whole kit and kaboodle! 6 weeks and 54 sessions later and we’d delivered a progressive course to 120 women covering  everything from maintenance to road etiquette. The feedback from Easyriders has been hugely positive and the reward for our instructors has been immeasurable. They actually think that Easyriders may be one of the best things they have ever done. After Easyriders we offered some basic MTB courses for the same women exclusively in a female peer group. Again, the uptake was great and we ever converted a few roadies onto mountain bikers! All of our courses are open to all genders and we coach plenty of women as a matter of course. But next year will bring some real changes to our women’s offering. So stay tuned!


One of our awesome Tweed Valley Easyriders groups.

One of our awesome Tweed Valley Easyriders groups.

  • Educational & Charities.

This has been our biggest year for educational experiences. We have led, guided and taught everything from private schools and charities to special needs and disadvantaged groups. It never fails to amaze us how Mountain Biking can be a great leveller in all of these peer groups. Mountain Biking for us can be used as a tool for therapy, whether for mental or physical issues, we have found that a large number of clients with these issues have been overwhelmingly positive about their exposure to the outdoors and riding bikes. In 2019 we’ll be unveiling some exciting new educational and therapeutic products.


Ridelines charity and educational mountain biking.

Ridelines is regularly involved with charity groups and educational mountain biking.

  • The DMBinS Scottish Cycling Mountain Bike Conference 2018.

We attended this years bi-annual conference in Aveimore not really knowing what to expect. But what the few days we took off to travel up and soak up the event were very worthwhile indeed. Some of the excellent peer group workshops included e-bikes, trail building, MTB leadership, environmental issues and many other hot topics. There were excellent speakers and delegates from all over the world (and outside) our industry, but the highlight of the conference for us were the new guidelines for unauthorised trail building issued by the National Access Forum in partnership with DMBinS and the leading players and businesses from land management and Mountain Biking. We’re very much looking forward to playing our part in what is to come for Montain biking in 2019.


Aneela McKenna and Lee Craigie speak at the 2018 MTB conference

Aneela McKenna and Lee Craigie speak at the 2018 MTB conference

  • The Scottish Mountain Biking Awards 2018

After a great few days at the DMBinS Scottish Mountain Bike Conference in Aviemore. A nice little cherry on top of a fantastic trip away was being afforded the honour of being recognised as the 2018 Scottish Mountain Bike Provider of the Year. At the MTB awards ceremony. It’s been a long journey for Ridelines, seeing people come and go as members of our team, all whom have contributed to the business in their own unique ways. We’d like to thank everyone who ever pulled on the jersey and represented Ridelines out on the hill. The list is long, but very distinguished!

Thanks to everyone at the conference, the delegates, Scottish Cycling, DMBinS, Edinburgh Napier University and the mountain biking community at large for supporting us from the grass roots that started us. It was great to watching Andy try to smile whilst collecting this award. Thank you all so much. Here’s to an amazing 2018 and a better 2019 for all of our clients and indeed our colleagues in the industry.


Ridelines: DMBinS Mountain Bike Service Provider of the Year 2018


It’s hard to pick highlights, but above is just a few points that stick out as things that we are especially pleased about. Mountain Biking is life at Ridelines. We never tire of it and we’re constantly looking for ways to evolve and improve what we do. Thanks to everyone who supports us on our selfish personal journey to try and keep riding bikes for a living!