Skills, trails and tea in the sunshine.

I had a lovely day out coaching at Coed y Brenin on Sunday with Hamish from Australia.

The aim of the ride was ostensibly to improve Hamish’s cornering skills and help him learn to bunny hop, and we worked on the underlying techniques whilst we rode the Minotaur blue trail and the many firetracks that link the trails.

The Minotaur trail’s Slipway section offers the perfect trail to practice the principles of cornering – pre-emptive braking, looking through the corner, weighting the bike for balance and traction.  The push-up track back to the start of the berms offers a chance for some comtemplative reflection of the previous run.

To put the new techniques into practice we meshed together a handful of Coedy’s best and twistiest sections, short-cutting up to the Adams Family sections, and then rolling through Big Dug. And for a real treat we even made time for a cup of tea at the cafe in the woods.

Coaching at Coed y Brenin with Hamish
Coaching at Coed y Brenin with Hamish - skills, trails and tea

The real highlight of the day for Hamish though was riding in the beautiful, forested valleys of Coed y Brenin, with its exquisite trails and awesome views. The sunshine didn’t hurt either.

A long day in the saddle….

Yesterday was a good day.

During the daylight hours I rode with Mark and Stu from Bala Watersports, around some of the trails at Coed y Brenin that they were less familiar with. At various points during the ride we’d all stop and I’d break their bikes.

Trailside Maintenance was the reason for such vandalism: how to fix your bike when it breaks so that you can make it back to civilisation (in our case – the cafe) safely and quickly.

Getting to grips torn tyres and punctured tubes.
Getting to grips torn tyres and punctured tubes.

We covered everything from punctured tubes, broken spokes, lost jockey wheels, to crisped wheels, broken handlebars, and trashed rear mechs.

We even found time to visit the bothy in the woods for a quick lunch.

After night fell I was back out on the trails again, this time with Terry from Mid Wales Climbing, explaining the ins-and-outs of night riding. Terry was armed with our 1200 lumen hire lights, which properly light up the woods and, as well as having a real blast on some of the steeper Coed y Brenin trails sections, we also spotted some of the local fallow deer leaping across the trail.

All in all, a great end to a long and fabulous day.

Guided Night Rides at Coed y Brenin

Fancy a go at night riding on some of the best trails in the UK? Wheelism is offering guided rides over the Christmas period (and the rest of winter) at Coed y Brenin, starting at 6pm till 8:30pm. (Mondays, Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays)

Come to the darkside!
Come to the darkside!

We’ll cover route choice, the best and worst of lights, how to get your lights set-up properly, night-time trail skills, and how to stay safe in the dark!

The session costs £20 per person, or £25 if you want to hire lights.

So, drop us a line or give us a call on 07542 016021, then come along for some fun, safe, trail riding on the darkside!


MBLA Night Riding Leader training

I spent the day and night yesterday up at Nant Bwlch yr Haearn above Betws y Coed with Jonathan from 1MTB1 being assessed for the Night Riding Module add-on to the Mountain Bike Leader qualification.

It was a fun and involving day, spent sharing knowledge with a few other lads (also being trained and assessed) – Ron from The Mountain Bike Rock School of Nottingham, racing-snake Ross from Carmathen, and all-round-mountain-dweller Mark from Anglesey. Plenty of wide-ranging mountain bike experience amongst the group led to some interesting and in-depth discussions about lights, clothing, weather conditions, trail choice, group management skills, and that was before we got out to ride some of the sweet re-engineered sections of the Marin trail.

A small pool of light.
A small pool of light.

It’s amazing how different a place can seem when you take the light away, and how your riding senses sharpen and adapt to the dark and the quiet. I find that hearing comes into play a lot more – the silence means that you could hear what the rider in front is doing, rather than watching them (last night that could just have been down to Ron’s Hope hubs though!).

Roll calls were the order of the day (night) – an important tool to ensure you’re not losing riders on the trail in the dark. Expect to hear the call ‘Schwing!’ on the trails at Coedy a bit more in the future!


This week’s coaching session – technical climbs and drops.

I had a good one-to-one coaching session this week at Coed y Brenin with Teresa, who wanted to improve her technical climbing skills and learn to conquer drop-offs.

We first looked at movement around the bike, shifting bodyweight to aid balance, and focussed on some basic skills including the manual, powered front wheel lift, and rear wheel lift. The manual and rear wheel lift in particular depend on using the upper body to achieve momentum forwards and backwards on the bike, so it’s really important to feel comfortable shifting weight around.

The manual translates nicely into the technique used for the drop-off: using body weight to push the bike forwards over the edge of a drop, keeping the vertical movement to a minimum and thereby smoothing out the landing. We found some nice steps on the Minotaur trail for some practice of this technique.

On to some red graded trails we looked at the rocky steps on Pinderosa. These steps (particularly the first one) require weight shifting to help lift the front wheel and then, once the front wheel is up, to pull the back wheel up and over. Momentum, power, speed and gear choice all play an integral part too. There’s a lot to think about for such a seemingly simple trail feature.

The same can be said of berms, of which there are some superb examples on the new blue-graded Minotaur trail. Entry speed, line choice, pedal position, pedal weighting. acceleration control, looking through the turn to the exit – all need to be considered to ride the berms as smoothly and safely as possible.

Towards the end of the session, we headed over to some of the steeper sections of red and black graded trail (Lurch and False Teeth), and looked at how weight distribution and body position on the bike can help when descending steeply. Control is key here – riding these sections slowly and with good control, allows you more time to think about line choice and find pick your way through to the exit of the section.

Teresa went away with plenty to think about and lots to practice. I’m sure she’ll be nailing those sections with confidence and aplomb in the very near future!

If you’d like a one-to-one or group coaching session, please drop us a line.