The other weekend my younger brother came over from Switzerland for a 2-day MTB skills tuition with Andy Barlow at Dirt School.
The Glentress trail centre is known as one of the best in Britain, if not Europe and now we have top-not coaching to match: Dirt School run their training courses there: founder Chris Ball focuses more on elite downhill and XC racers while he and Andy Barlow provide skills coaching to any age and ability of rider.
My bro is pretty experienced, spending all summer riding local trails around Zurich and the Swiss ski centres and it seems that he got a lot from the weekend. He brought his all-mountain Transitions Covert over in a bike bag especially. It’s set up with 6″ travel front and back and a Hammerschmidt internally geared BB.
Day 1: Dirt School covered something they call the bite point, picking your lines, and braking. Practice checking your speed in advance of wet roots or uneven rocky sections, and not touching the levers at all over them. Then there was manuals- something I was surprised to hear about, as it’s soemthing I associate with BMX and trials. But apparently it’s a skill that can allow you to flow over bumps and obstacles more safely, and with more speed- leaning back over the bike rather than pulling the bars up and pedalling harder.
Day 2: jumping and drop-offs. Hopefully I’m not giving away any trade secrets here but Chris reported getting a bit of a slagging for his ‘spud hops’, a consequence of having ridden nearly 15 years on SPD pedals. Rather than picking the bike up with your feet, he was taught to push it into the jump, and let it happen naturally rather than doing too much pulling and yanking. The drop-off work builds on the manuals- rolling into the drop without pulling the bike up, and so as not to land nose-heavy.
Again, I hope I’m not stealing any thunder here, but obviously you won’t make any strides by reading a blog post- get in touch with Dirtschool, get over to GT and try a course yourself.