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Review | Swaledale Outdoor Club

On the 11th of September 2010 Matthew Saxon and I took part in a mountain biking skills training day run by Astounding Adventures. The course we took part in was Core Skills – Fundamentals.

I thought that the learning points were put across very clearly and effectively with well executed demonstrations

Judith Turner- Swaledale Outdoor Club

The course was offered to mountain biking clubs in the Yorkshire area and SOC opted for sending a relatively new rider, Matt, and myself who has been riding for over 20 years but have not had a great deal of formal training so the reviews are from differing perspectives. Here’s what we thought:

The pre-course joining instructions were all clear; the chosen venue being Yearsley Forest. There were 9 riders on the day and we were spoilt by having 3 coaches – normally the ratio would be 6 riders to 1 coach. Our coaches were Danielle Sheridan and Jessica Weston, both senior coaches for Astounding Adventures and Simon Weston, who will be providing coaching in the Yorkshire area in future. Following refreshments, we were asked to outline our current level of expertise and what we wanted to get from the day. A basic safety check of our bikes and helmets was also carried out - a good reminder of the things we should not just take for granted. The coaching included demonstrations followed by practise and then feedback and more practise.

What the course covered was as follows:

Having ridden for 20 years, I was familiar with the ground covered but I am more than happy to admit that my learning to date has been informal and therefore bad habits have been learned and needed to be broken! I thought that the learning points were put across very clearly and effectively with well executed demonstrations. Also a lot was covered in the time we had from riding with our belly buttons touching the saddle; controlled braking so we could stop where we were told to, without skidding; weaving in and out of a series of cones to try and hone our cornering and manualling over increasingly larger obstacles.

The skills taught apply at whatever level you are riding and, if applied correctly, will help you to ride trails faster, smoother, confidently and also be able to stop safely at the end!

It was interesting to observe how well the new riders took to the skills, learning quickly and mastering the skills. Before Matt came on the training he hadn’t done 'manuals' or dynamic weight shifting as it is called. By the end of this session, he was clearing log obstacles with confidence. Here’s Matt’s take on the day:

With a course costing as little as £60 per person, it is a relatively small investment to make but will have a significant impact on your riding

Mathew Saxon - Swaledale Outdoor Club

"Before I attended the fundamentals course I knew very little about cycling theory and had never really thought much about my riding technique. So before the course began I expected that I would benefit quite a bit from it, and thank fully I wasn’t disappointed. The coaches were very knowledgeable and delivered the training in increments to ensure we knew the basic principals behind each skill. Worryingly I was surprised at how little I actually knew about cycling and even basic equipment: New pedals, helmet and a fork service were quickly added to my shopping list!

The underlying theme to each skill was efficiency and effectiveness; we covered braking, going over obstacles and cornering, as well as basic ride positioning. I quickly picked up the theory behind the new skills and felt more confident as a result. I would definitely consider having more coaching and would certainly consider another Astounding Adventures course.  I know that my riding hasn’t instantly improved as a result of the course, but at least I’ll now have the added dimension of trying to practise and become proficient in the new skills as I ride".

For me the training gave me plenty to go away and think about and to try to make sure I continue to apply the learning to my riding. If I was to be starting mountain biking as a beginner I would find the tuition very helpful and would definitely recommend new riders to take up training along the lines of the fundamentals course offered by Astrounding Adventures. For those riders like me, who think they know what they are doing, I would also recommend some investment in your skills – whether it is a case of going back to fundamentals or stepping up to singletrack skills, that is up to you.

With a course costing as little as £60 per person, it is a relatively small investment to make but will have a significant impact on your riding. The price tag is also low compared to some of the gear and clothing we buy to take part in our beloved sport and will probably last longer too!

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Customer testimonials

"Gary (the coach) taught us a lot of valuable riding skills which will help us to enjoy our mountain biking even more in the future. I will recommend you to my friends.
Mark Williams
Rushden, Northamptonshire
"We had an absolutely fantastic time and we were very impressed with your company's professional approach and communication before and during the course of the day
Mark Williams
Rushden, Northamptonshire
"Thank you for an AWESOME course. It has really helped a lot. Definitely have overload now but I'll be practicing my new skills and booking another course
Yvette Gariazzo
Bookham, Surrey
"Huge thanks for giving my husband a great day's biking. He came back buzzing... you obviously gave him the right combination of excitement and fear!"
Clare Molyneux
Winchester, Hampshire
"Thanks for the great Mastering Steep Terrain course this afternoon - was really impressed with the video coaching. What a great idea!"
Mike Walker
Southampton, Hampshire
"Thank you for a super weekend. Absolutely the best biking in the Surrey Hills"
Geoffrey Saunders
Dorking, Surrey
"Had a great day; learnt a lot including ironing out bad habits and now looking forward to putting the skills learnt into practise"
David Shuttleworth
Woking, Surrey
"I now have the tools to tackle trails and obstacles that I wouldn't even have considered a week ago"
Eamonn Fuller
Hutton, Essex
"The course content was spot-on for me and Jess (the coach) delivered it in a humorous, patient and encouraging style"
Eamonn Fuller
Hutton, Essex
"I wouldn't hesitate to recommend the Fast-track Singletrack Skills Weekend to anyone who wants to take their riding to a different level"
Eamonn Fuller
Hutton, Essex
"Thanks for great day on Sunday. What a blast! Both the training and the Hurtwood ride were brilliant. Been grinning like an idiot all week!"
Brendan King
London
"Thanks so much for a wonderful day! We had a brilliant time and are looking forward to building up our confidence and practicing our skills over the next few months"
Karianne Mathiesen
Surbiton
"Had a great day and learnt lots of fundamental stuff that has really helped already with my speed and confidence"
Robin King
Dorking
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"The course was very clear and has left my head buzzing (I want to be out riding right now not behind a desk). Thanks for a fantastic day!"
John Marshall
Maidenhead
"Thanks for an awesome course yesterday guys, really enjoyed it. I'm aching in parts I didn't know you could work today"
Michael Mills
Aldershot
"I can't recommend the Mastering Large Drops & Jumps workshop enough. I never thought I'd be manualling off 1 metre drops without thinking about it!"
Michael Mills
Aldershot
"I found the course really valuable - really interesting what we take for granted! Special thanks to the coaches for running a great and fun course"
Pali Surdhar
York
"The course at the weekend was great (despite the cold). I learned some really good skills which I'll be putting into practise going forward"
Sam Harrop
Streatham, London
"I had a great afternoon with Jess (the coach). Her advice was great for improving my technique and above all my mind set and mental block over the steep roll offs"
Liz Ellis
Dorking
"Really feel I now have a great foundation to improve and get closer to being able to achieve my goal of competing in The Mega in July"
Robin Blake
Brighton
"Awesome morning on Holmbury Hill. Seems I've been doing everything wrong all these years! Jess is a great coach"
Rhys Norster @BikeWheelGuy
Whitstable, Kent
"Please pass on my thanks to Neil (the coach) who made the course fun whilst passing on many invaluable lessons and tips"
Nigel Sergeant
Redhill, Surrey
"Thanks for the fab instruction this morning; you really can teach an old dog new tricks. Really enjoyable and laughy afternoon as well"
Jo Woodley
Newdigate, Dorking
"Your course exceeded my expectations because Jess (the coach) focused the right amount of time on my areas of biggest weakness. I'm looking forward to getting out and practicing"
Nathan Rogers
Tunbridge Wells
"Just wanted to let you know that since my last lesson I have been transformed. No longer am I the slow coach at the back! The lessons were fantastic and I feel so much more confident"
Sabrina Verjee
Croydon
"Just wanted to thank you for a wicked mountain bike weekend. I had plenty of fun, learned a ton, gained buckets of confidence and will come back again for more training"
Henning Lindblad
West London
"I wanted to drop you a short mail to thank you and Jess (the guides) for a fantastic day out on Saturday. I hope to fit another guided ride in before the end of the year"
Anil Sumra
London
"Thanks to Jessica (the guide) for a great tour yesterday, good advice, good company and loads of fun on the downhills. I was buzzing for the rest of the day and slept like a rock"
Danny Reeves
Epsom, Surrey
"Just wanted to say thank you for the course last weekend. The course, instructor & organisation were excellent. After some practise I will be back for the next level!"
Peter Simpson
West Clandon, Surrey
"I went along as a complete novice and had so much fun, the techniques that were taught will improve your riding whether you're a trail expert or a beginner"
Daniel Siddiqui
South-West London
"All at The Singletrack School are very helpful; especially my instructor Jessica who was knowledgeable, patient, fun, informative and, most importantly, a superb rider"
Daniel Siddiqui
South-West London
"I left the session feeling re-energised and looking for more. I've signed up for the Mastering Steep Terrain course already!"
Francis Cooper
South-East London
"Neil (the coach) very quickly identified and unravelled bad habits and described correct technique in a way that had instant results on the bike"
Francis Cooper
South-East London
" I can't believe how much I learned and improved in a few short hours"
Francis Cooper
South-East London
"Thanks for a fantastic weekend. I learned a huge amount from Rob, Neil and Jess especially (the coaches) and can't wait to hit the trails again soon"
Ed Soanes
Staffanstorp, Sweden
"Great day on Sunday on your Hops & Drops course. It was the perfect blend of pushing the boundaries while acknowledging they're there in the first place"
Sandy Vann
Woking, Surrey
"Thanks to Gary (the coach) who was a great teacher & really knew how to push me in the right way that meant I achieved exactly what I wanted to achieve!"
Jo Healy
Hove, East Sussex
"The ride was a great success and the boys loved it. It was great for them to learn some new trails and to see how it really should be done by an expert."
Melanie Harrison
Horsham, West Sussex
"It's the first time I have ridden in The Surrey Hills and was truly impressed with the trails and the fantastic riding available accentuated by your knowledge of the area."
Justin Edwards
Lightwater, Surrey
"Thanks for a great weekend on the Mountain Bike Improver Weekend, both myself and Charlie thoroughly enjoyed it, learnt a lot and increased our confidence."
Justin Edwards
Lightwater, Surrey
"I had a totally brilliant time and finished the singletrack grinning from ear to ear. Rob (the coach) explained everything so clearly. Thanks again!"
Emma Weatherill
Sittingbourne, Kent
"I just wanted to say how much I enjoyed the Mastering Rocks & Roots course yesterday. Jess was a great instructor, providing a good balance of tuition versus practise."
Richard Nettleship
Guildford, Surrey
"May I suggest that before anybody buys a new bike that they do a course with these people first - far more cost effective. You'll be surprised what any bike can do!"
Phillip Jenkins
Reigate, Surrey
"A massive thank you for The Fundamentals course and guided ride last weekend. I'm still buzzing from it and boring everyone about being able to do a manual!"
Rachel Charlton
Brixton, London
"Had a great time on my Fundamentals course this weekend and the guided tour afterwards. Thanks Danielle and Jessica (the coaches)"
Mike Walker
Southampton, Hampshire
"You put on a thoroughly professional day and I look forward to a similar experience later in the year once I've 'mastered' my new skills"
Barry Taylor
Ashtead, Surrey
"I had a fantastic day today. Really feel more confident on a bike and feel I have much more skills than I did when I started"
Libis Knights
Kingston upon Thames
"Awesome day! Picked up some very useful tips in the coaching session & thoroughly enjoyed the guided ride. Definitely recommended!"
Richard Downham
Farnham, Surrey
"Thanks for a great day out on Saturday, really enjoyed it and learned a lot!"
Daniel Balthasar
London
"I learnt a lot and rode over obstacles & trails I probably wouldn't have tried before - fantastic day, cheers!"
Suzanne Taylor
Middleton, Manchester
"The lesson was fab and then the consolidation at Dalby was excellento! Simon (the coach) was lovely and we all took a lot away from the day"
Melody Dark
Middleton, Manchester
"At the end of each tip, I really quite literally could feel the difference in my riding as a result of the coaching"
Casper Blom
Richmond upon Thames
"It was very enlightening to see how the coach could read my riding and translate the shortcomings into understandable words for me"
Casper Blom
Richmond upon Thames
"I just wanted to thank you for a fantastic afternoon of riding on The North Downs last weekend. The trails were awesome; we were buzzing all the way home!"
Marcus Keet
Eastbourne, Sussex
"Thanks again for the experience on Saturday; very well organised, very informative and very enjoyable"
Jake and Des Mayall
Twickenham, Middlesex
"I had a really fun day. Have been practising a bit on the Barclay's Bike on my morning commute! Can't wait to get out on the bike again"
Jo Denoris
Twickenham, Middlesex
"We all came away feeling that we can take our riding up another level with our new found knowledge"
Richard Sterry
Redhill Cycling Club
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"I left with the knowledge of what actions to take to improve my riding and it already has had an effect"
Jo Gilmour
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"The organisation and delivery of the course was excellent. We shall certainly look to book more later in the year"
Sarah Crawford
South-East London
"It was an amazing day and by just doing the course gave me the confidence to go out on the trails"
Phil Todd
Croydon, Surrey
"Thanks for a great weekend. We really enjoyed it and look forward to another weekend of mountain biking soon"
Jordy Knewstubb
London
"Your professionalism and good company helped turn a chilly day in the woods into a very inspiring day"
Matthew Addison
Muddy Moles MTB Club
"Good sound advice, demonstrations and opportunities to practise"
Paul Loader
Muddy Moles MTB Club
"Everybody agreed that the Singletrack Skills courses made a massive impact to their riding"
Scott Camber
Bucks MTB Club
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"A couple of weeks ago I didn't have the confidence to ride over a match stick, let alone a rooty trail or a few logs"
Doug Shaw
Addiscombe Cycling Club
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"Thank you so much for the skills training. I didn't think I'd learn so much about my riding style (or lack of!)"
Sue Ritchie
Addiscombe Cycling Club
"Experienced MTBers who have reached a plateau in their riding will definitely benefit from skills coaching"
Richard Sear
Diary of a Mountain Biker
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"The coaches had good communication skills and demonstrated everything with great patience and a gentle manner"
Mike Gill
Brighton MTB Club
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"I felt so much more in control. Result - huge increase in confidence and exhilaration!"
Lorna Hendry
Maidstone, Kent
"Thanks again for Saturday - it's always fantastic to learn new things and when it has such an impact - even better"
Richard Shelton
Maidstone, Kent
"I really enjoyed the course. It was great to be shown how to do a manual properly"
Matt Stridgen
Anerley, London
"Putting the techniques into practise under your watchful eye really helped to consolidate the learning for me"
Ann Nealon
Esher, Surrey
"This is the first cycling coaching I have paid for and it won't be my last with Astounding Adventures!"
Paul Loader
Oxshott, Surrey
"I learned so much - who would have thought there was so much science to learn from two wheels!"
Jacqui Parker
Cobham, Surrey
"Thank you for an awesome, amazing and, of course, astounding day!"
Jim Mitchell
Caterham, Surrey
"The day was really great. I certainly got a lot out of the coaching. It will really help with my riding"
Christian Bozeat
Charing Heath, Kent
"I thought that the learning points were put across very clearly and effectively with well executed demonstrations"
Judith Turner
Swaledale Outdoor Club
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"I was transformed from a timid toddler on trainer wheels to a half pipe hero"
Darren
Clifton Cycling Club
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"Learn from professional riders in a really friendly and fun atmosphere"
Emila Zeilinska
Clifton Cycling Club
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"With courses costing as little as £65 it's a small investment, but will have a significant impact on your riding"
Matthew Saxon
Swaledale Outdoor Club
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"With a professional British Cycling Instructor watching your every move, it's surprising how many faults they can find"
Mark Walters
York Mountaineering Club
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"A very positive learning experience. I look forward to trying to put more of it into practise!"
Alex Starling
Barnes, London
"I came away with significantly greater confidence in tackling trails and skills which will enable me to develop further"
Chris Susans
Rayleigh, Essex
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"We all benefited enormously from learning The Fundamentals. I myself just cannot get over the difference it's made to my riding"
Steve Wragg
Billingshurst, West Sussex
"Thank you for the great navigation skills course it was very interesting and I'll put my new skills to good use"
Steve Belsey
Woking, Surrey
"Knowledgeable and friendly coaches and a great balance of learning, theory and practise"
Ian Gilbody
Epsom, Surrey
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"A very enjoyable and educational course with Danielle (the coach)... I will be able to enjoy the downhills a lot more"
Richard Carter
Coulsdon, Surrey
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"I still have a lot of practise to do but I am really delighted with the progress I have made just after one lesson"
Melody Dark
Middleton, Manchester
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"Very professional outfit offering well structured courses to take you to the next level and beyond!"
Stewart Lomax
Redhill, Surrey
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"Thanks for a fantastic day. I would recommend it to anyone, really good teaching"
Howard Binysh
Bigfoot Cycling Club

About Singletrack School

Singletrack School provide mountain bike skills coaching, mountain bike technique courses, mountain bike skills weekends, women's mountain bike skills courses, private mountain bike skills tuition, off-road skills instruction for kids and families, guided singletrack rides and cross country bike adventures in The Surrey Hills and beyond.

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