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Skill training one-on-one

02 March 2016 | Lifestyle

‘<p>I wonder how many people are like me in how they ride and progress, or do not progress. I have limited time available for mountain biking, and I’‘m sure most people are in the same boat. When I do go out, it tends to be for a few hours and I’‘ll go up the same old trails that I know and am comfortable with.</p><p>But then I’‘ve been getting more and more frustrated at my lack of progression. I don’‘t get any faster, and there are still features and obstacles that either slow me down, or I just plain can’‘t ride. Is that really surprising though, when I only ride within my comfort zone, and don’‘t stop to work on a specific feature or skill.</p><p>Yesterday, I moved to change that, and paid for a one to one day of mountain bike coaching with Kieron Selley at Trailriders Ballyhoura. They also run regular group coaching days.</p><p>It is amazing how much of a difference it makes to have somebody watch what you’‘re doing - often moves that you use regularly while biking - and be able to point out tweaks and improvements that help your efficiency in a very short period of time.</p><p>Over the day Kieron covered manuals, bunny hopping, flat & bermed corners and jumps, finishing the day with a few short runs down the trails to tie all those skills together.</p><p>After 6 hours of coaching I have the basis of a manual, the duration of which I will improve on with practice. I can pop a small but well formed bunny hop rather than the forced power, or English bunny hop I have relied on for years. I have ridden off drops of up to a couple of feet that previously would have seen me get off my bike and walk, or ride around. I’‘m not railing berms yet, but I have the basic skill and understanding to get around them much faster than before, and with practice who knows.</p><p>I didn’‘t get a good comparison on sections of track that I’‘d ridden before, mostly because I didn’‘t ride the trails till late in the day and my legs were suffering a bit by then. But even with tired legs, I set my second best time by a couple of seconds on the overall trail from a standing start compared to a rolling and much fresher start (edit: I actually beat my previous time - see note below). And on one 300 metre technical stretch I beat my previous best by 5 seconds - with tired legs.</p><p>* Update: On closer inspection of my efforts on Strava it appears that with Kieron’’s help I actually beat my previous best by 12 seconds. But I must have stopped just before the end of the segment as marked on Strava and rolled on a few seconds later. At the end of a long day, with tired legs compared to my previous best where I was racing a friend, I’‘ll take that as an improvement. Can’‘t wait to see what I can do next when rested. *</p><p>All the techniques Kieron teaches are aimed at improving your efficiency, which translates into using less energy and improving your speed. Less energy spent means you can keep going for longer and making fewer mistakes because of a lack of concentration.</p><p>I now need to go and practice everything so that I can start doing them without consciously thinking about it. But for a single day of coaching, I would say the results were evident already. Certainly well worth the money.</p><p>I’‘ve seen the phrase “the best upgrade is a skills upgrade” repeated on the Internet frequently, and after yesterday I can only agree whole heartedly.</p>’

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