Llandegla Core Skills Course for Women
It was my birthday and Mr Betty surprised me with a ticket to a One Planet Adventure Llandegla Women’s Core Skills course. Can you just imagine my surprise – instead of holding a puppy, my boyfriend held a piece of folded paper and a big grin on his face (which was justified). When Mr Betty told me what this ticket actually is for I was still a bit worried. Firstly, it still wasn’t a puppy. Secondly, it meant that someone else will see me struggle on my bike. Leaving the fears and anticipated disappointment aside (I have watched the Core Skills course youtube videos, accepted I am not getting a pup until Christmas) I slowly was getting more and more excited about the challenge.
As we both live in the North of England, we had to stay over-night quite close by in North Wales. We stayed in Mold (yes, there is a place called Mold) in a lovely Bed and Breakfast called Bronchoed Uchaf. It was beautiful and peaceful and I had a chance to meet few chickens and horses (their advice regarding the skills course was limited). If you ever find yourself staying at Bronchoed Uchaf then be sure to ask the host for a full breakfast in the morning, we were served the best and freshest eggs (from the aforementioned chickens with very little to say).
It took us about 20 minutes in the morning to travel to Llandegla, and after wishing me luck Mr Betty went on a solo ride (that you can read about here) and I set off nervously for my group course.
I rolled in to the One Planet Adventure Café with my bike, having somehow already managed to scratch my shins with my pedals on the way down, and was directed towards a side room. When I walked in, the first things I saw were the vast array of the eye catching bikes. Ghost, Santa Cruz, Orange and Yeti were all represented. I spotted a table with 5 other women (looking far less nervous than me) and a coach, sitting sipping tea and coffee.
We started off talking about ourselves and we also discussed the plan for the day. It became clear that we were a group of ladies with a different level of abilities, some were intermediate and some were beginners. Whilst finishing our drinks, our coach, Cheri Mills, taught us a great deal about the setup of our bikes and the importance of a proper helmet check before riding. Then it was time to set off!
Most of the day, we were working on essential skills like cornering, pumping, front-wheel lifting and handling drops. There were themes throughout the day including; positioning, looking and commitment (a lesson Mr Betty could do with learning sometimes!). Every attempt at mastering the skills was watched and fed back on by our lovely tutor. Using an iPad, we were shown exactly what we can change to make our movements better.
The course rep was supportive and encouraging all the way through. Cheri Mills is one of the best enduro riders in England. She has won a large amount of races even beating Rachel Atherton (placing 2nd at 2015 Fox hunt). Her approach towards learning is supportive and encouraging. This lady is kickass, and she definitely has a lot to teach!
My biggest struggle coming in to the course was controlling my turning through berms. I would usually ride them tight on an inside line, as I would be scared of falling out of the far side of the berms. Very often I would fall down as a result, and my confidence would take a kicking. Since the course, I have noticed my riding in this area has very much improved. I have tackled numerous steep banked turns and berms and whilst it wasn’t a walk in the park, I found it easy to remember the simple tips Cheri had imparted to me on the course. Not only did my technique improve, but my confidence got a major boost. when Mr Betty and I rode Gisburn recently Mr Betty was impressed with the improvement in my skills and abilities (or so he says!).
Perhaps inevitably I did fall down during the day, it was late in the afternoon and I was definitely ready to sit down for cake. I stopped focusing for just a split second and I overshot a berm (fears have a tendency of coming true, eh? I’m not crazy, right?). No one laughed (in a nice way, it wasn’t stony silence), The ladies on the course and Cheri in particular were quick to check I was ok and talk through how I could ensure it didn’t happen again. All the ladies with me on the course were extraordinary, it really felt like we faced our challenges and conquered them to boot! Not only that but we also had a great time chatting over a delicious lunch (that came free with the course) and tea and cake in the afternoon (also included). During our breaks we discussed our improvements, and we discussed the techniques learnt.
Whilst Mr Betty has always been supportive (and perhaps patient!) whilst I am getting to grips with more difficult trails and terrain, it felt totally different (better) to learn and improve with other women.
Overall, the day was definitely worth it. Great teacher, great course, amazing company and delicious cake and coffee! The entire day was a pleasure and I would definitely recommend it to others. The only suggestion to OPA Llandegla would be to maybe offer half-day courses for those like me with the stamina of a slug. I would recommend it to any woman who thinks they are in need of a bit of a guidance, whatever their experience of mountain biking to date. To book a day course, please visit OPA Llandegla’s website.
May 15, 2016