Where: Coed Llandegla, Ruthin Road, Wrexham, LL11 3AA, Wales
Most challenging section: The sheer length of the day and the drop offs
Most rewarding section: Improving my techniques on the pump track
I had a brilliant first ride at Llandegla Forest but it made me realise how much I could improve my cycling as well as my fitness. After a quick look online I found a core skills course for women at Llandegla aimed at beginners.
The morning of the skills day, I was feeling quite apprehensive because I had never done anything like this before. I arrived at the Cafe at 9 am and the relaxed atmosphere soon calmed my mood.
We had a cup of tea while everyone settled in and talked about their previous experience and motivations for the day. I quickly learnt that I was truly the only beginner there. I think the instructor was shocked to hear I had only ever visited the centre once and before then I hadn’t rode since I was a child! While most of the women on the course had been riding for years.
With this in mind I was very nervous for the day but the instructor and all the women were so encouraging that I soon forgot about my inexperience. Throughout the day I was able to go at my own pace and was given tailored advice from the instructor who filmed me using an iPad. It was great to look at the video footage and see where I was going wrong and how I could improve.
After we spoke about bike set up, the first lesson we learnt was all about positioning. Our instructor got us comfortable with leaning as far back as we could off the seat while pushing our heels down to stabilise us when going downhill. To be honest I found this really difficult, even when we were practising on flat ground. Throughout the day I slowly gained more confidence to lean back but still have a long way to go. Unfortunately I never received the videos that were filmed from the day so I have managed to find this great picture demonstrating the body position we were practising.
Next we headed to the pump track where we learnt how to pump our bikes so that we didn’t need to pedal. This was fun and something I had never done before. The instructor was great and broke the technique into different steps so that it was easy to follow.
Next we practised corners, looking at where to position our pedals as well as our bodies. Below is a short video I took of our instructor demonstrating how to preform a corner.
Around mid day we stopped for a well deserved lunch in the cafe. It was perfect timing as I was starting to become worn out. For me I found the most challenging part of the day to be the sheer amount of cycling (mostly up hill) to and from each area. This was down to my fitness levels which obviously were not the best after only a week of cycling.
The food was great and was all included in the price of the day.
We ended the day at the skills area of Llandegla. This is a small area which brings together different trail features. Earlier we were taught how to manual, so here we could practice the same technique as we dropped down some rocks. For those not quite ready to do this (me) we practised rolling down the rocks. Here is another video I took of our instructor demonstrating this.
At the end of the day we all headed back to cafe where we were shown all the footage of us that had been filmed throughout the course. It was great to see how far we had all come.
It was a brilliant day and I can’t believe I learnt so much in seven hours. Although I still have a long way to go, the course defiantly improved my confidence and gave me a solid foundation to improve my mountain bike skills. I always try to use the tips and techniques given to me throughout the course and notice my riding improve when I do.
Check out the video to find out more about the day and what it entails: