ALine Top Tips #6 The 4 C's of Performance

Everybody wants to improve their riding, and ‘Go Faster’ is a term we often hear. ‘Going Faster’ is however an outcome and not a tangible thing we can just buy off the shelf. Instead of focusing on this outcome, we need to shift our focus onto the behaviours (controllable’s) that will result in the outcome we are after.

As many of you may know, Gareth – UK ALine Mountain Bike Coaching manager, also works as a Mental Performance Coach, assisting athletes to better improve their overall performance through targeting mental processes and PST – ‘Psychological Skills Training’. Something we do a lot at ALine, is merge the two worlds of MTB skills training, and mental skills training, together.

Today’s Top Tip is about just that, merging mental process’ with identified skills training.

Within sport psychology we often refer to the 4 C’s of performance. They are, Commitment, Confidence, Concentration, and Control (emotional and physical). Referring to each of these four areas and asking yourself… ‘what is my Confidence for X terrain’ will help you identify different areas you may need to work on in order to improve your performance and ‘Go Faster’.

If we look at steep sections as an example, we could briefly go through and analyse it in the following way:

  • Commitment: 8/10 – I commit to the sections without much hesitation
  • Confidence: 5/10 – I don’t feel too nervous going into steep sections, but I do not ride them in an attacking way
  • Concentration – 6/10 – I generally look in the correct areas of the track, however sometimes find my eyes wondering to obstacles I want to avoid on track
  • Control: 8/10 – I generally don’t panic on steep terrain and am able to keep in control of the bike.

We have now identified one or two areas we could see a lot of improvement in, namely Confidence and Concentration. Looking at confidence, we can now begin to break down what being confident on steep sections looks like and importantly, what you need to do in order to gain confidence here, e.g. build more experience and ride steep tracks more often, learning the coaching points for riding steep terrain etc etc. This will lead to directed practice. 

Our Top Tip in bullet point form:

  1. Highlight the different areas of your riding (e.g. steep terrain, flow, jumps)
  2. Rate yourself on the 4 C’s in each of these areas
  3. Devise a plan to improve each of these areas for each skill – they are likely connected.
  4. Don’t rush it – remember this will not improve instantly, rather set a realistic time frame – e.g. in 6 months time I would like to improve my confidence on steep terrain from a 5 to an 8 by doing the following…

If you are unsure of how to improve any of the areas identified above, please get in touch with ALine, as there is a lot we can do to help you improve your riding and enjoy the journey of progression.

Have fun out there and keep it rubber side down.

Cheers,

Gareth

Dr Gareth Jones ALine UK Manager

Email: gmjalinecoaching@gmail.com

Web: www.alinecoaching.co.uk

ALine Top Tips #5 Cornering

Cornering is arguably one of the most important skills to learn on a bike. Unbeknown to many, the cornering skill lends itself to a lot of other bike related skills such as jumping.

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At one end of the scale, improving your cornering technique opens up many trails by unlocking confidence and skills to approach a trail with, whilst also improving trail flow. There are often features, such as a jump or a drop, that have corners either just before, or just after them. So the better at cornering you are, the more composed you are likely to be when handling other trail features.  At the other end of the scale, racing for those vital split seconds, it is often thought that races are won and lost in corners, as they link sections together, enable you to carry (or not carry) speed down the trail.

ALines Top Tip this month is to find a grassy field, preferably with a bit of a decline, and practice some cornering. Grassy banks are a great tool because a) there is no berm for support so you need to use lots of cornering technique, b) you can really lean on your tyres and test the boundaries of your technique and grip without rocks or hard pack group surrounding you.

 

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If you would like to learn how to really push your cornering technique, then our Flow course is ideal. If you would like to first understand the underpinnings of a fantastic foundation from with to build from, then our Fundamentals Course is for you. Please visit our site (link below) for further details.

Have fun out there and keep it rubber side down.

Cheers,

Gareth

Dr Gareth Jones

ALine UK Manager

Email: gmjalinecoaching@gmail.com

Web: www.alinecoaching.co.uk

ALine Top Tips #4 Knee Position

This months ALine top tips is a simple one but a key one. It is something we notice many riders not doing and it has a big impact on your control and thus confidence on the bike. 

It comes back down to your posture on the bike. We at ALine work with clients a lot on this as it is such an important part of improving your riding - you need to build from the bottom up to get the most from your progression, and your body position on the bike is a great starting point. 

Todays top tip is your knee position

A lot of riders, especially when feeling nervous, ride with their knees almost pinching their top tube of the bike. The result of this means that you feel less balanced on the bike and less stable, which has a knock on impact to your confidence going down the trail. 

Instead, open your knees, as a very rough guide, aim to get your knee's pointing towards your handlebar grips (on an MTB). This will do two things. Firstly it widens the platform you are balancing on, and secondly, and perhaps more importantly, it gives the bike room to move! When you ride with your knee close together the bike moves around on the trail, this results in increased body movement, which is not good as it unnerves the rider. By widening your knee position, the bike can all of a sudden move around between your legs, minimising (key work) the influence the trail is having on your body/head movement. 

This will result in feeling more stable and controlled down the trail, which will produce the by product of feeling more confident whilst going down the trail. Look at the picture of ALine coach Anthony. Coming through this section of trail his knees are wide, giving the bike room to move underneath him, minimising any impact on his trunk and head. 

Give it a go and let us know how you get on. 

If you would like to find out more, please get in touch, there is so many vast improvements you can make by just simply improving your body posture on the bike. 

Keep it rubber side down and see you on the trails. 

Cheers,

Gareth

Dr Gareth Jones

ALine UK Manager

Email: gmjalinecoaching@gmail.com

Web: www.alinecoaching.co.uk

ALine Top Tips #3 The Bike M-Check

This months ALine Top Tips is a simple one but one of the most important articles to date!

The bike M check.

We coach a lot of people here at ALine and we undoubtably start each session with a quick bike check... You would be amazed at what we find in this 5 minutes, even on new bikes! Some example include very loose spokes, pivot bolts half hanging out, loose headsets, missing brake bolts, snapped pedal axles - all of these things have the potential to negatively impact your ride, and potentially cause injury to yourself too. 

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The M Check is a great systematic way to work through the bike that just takes a couple of minutes and a few allen keys. In the long run this can save your body and your wallet! 

 

 

 

 

As you can see from the picture, it is called the 'M check' because we work through the bike in a rough M shape, starting at the front and working backwards through the bike. Follow these 5 quick themes to keep you rolling with confidence. 

  1. Front wheel
    1. Tyre pressure
    2. Front axle is securely fastened
    3. All spokes are evenly tensioned
    4. Disk brake and calliper are securely fastened
  2. Cockpit bolt check. With allen keys check the following bolts
    1. Brake lever
    2. Gear lever and dropper post bolts
    3. Stem and Handlebar bolts are tight
    4. Headset - this can be tricky: the best way is to pull the front brake lever turn the front wheel 90 degrees and gently rock backwards and forward. If you get any 'play' it is likely your headset will need pinching up (if you are unsure of how to do this, please seek professional advice). 
  3. Cranks
    1. Check both pedals are nipped up and secure - this is usually a 6mm allen key
    2. Check your cranks are done up tight by wobbling gently side to side. If they are tight, but you have play, it is likely your bottom bracket needs replacing, again seek professional advice is necessary. 
  4. Frame / shock / linkage bolts
    1. Work through all frame and shock bolts, ensuring they are securely fastened - loose frame bolts can often void warranty so this is an important one
    2. Ensure your seat post is securely fastened
  5. Rear wheel and mech
    1. Start by checking that the tyre pressure is ok
    2. Check spoke tension - again you are looking for an even tension throughout the rear wheel. The rear wheel often takes a bit more of a hammering, so this is something that should be checked regularly as the odd loose spoke is common. 
    3. Check the rear axle is securely fastened
    4. Ensure the rear cassette is securely done up, gently wobble the biggest ring left and right, you shouldn't feel any play. If you do, this is a bit more of a specialist tool/fix, so consult a professional to get it sorted if you do not have the tools yourself. 
    5. Finally, check the rear mech is securely fastened. This often comes loose due to vibrations and can go into the rear spokes if not fastened up regularly, so check this often. 

This may look like a lot, but essentially it is 5 quick, easy steps to keep you rolling, a smile on your face, and you money in your wallet. 

If any of you have any questions on this, or any of the other ALine top tips, please do not hesitate to get in contact. We are more than happy to answer any questions. 

Keep it rubber side down and see you on the trails. 

Top Tips - Not Everyday is Match Day

Not everyday is match day

Mountain biking is more than a sport or hobby for many of us, often being more of a lifestyle choice. The rush of flowing down a new trail, the thrill of opening it up a little more down a trail we know well, or the rush of endorphins that surge through our brains every time we hit the trails. This rush is why many of us love mountain biking, and although this euphoric state and high concentration helps us progress and keeps us motivated to push, to go out even in the most miserable of days, it can also have its downsides.  

 

One of those is that every time we go out on our bikes, we end up searching for this excitement and feeling of flow. This results in us rarely going past the point of analysis; meaning at the end of each run, we either pay no attention to any analysis, or do very little thinking about what we just did, and instead, just crack on back up the hill to the next trail. However, if you think of any other sport, more commonly conventional sports, athletes go to regular training sessions where they spend a lot of time, energy, and focus, on improving the specific movement patterns and technique that make up 'the how' of riding a trail, or drills that widen ones comfort zones for specific skills. In mountain biking we are very poor at doing this in general.

ALine would therefore like to challenge you to think more about training rides, and how you can fit training into your riding routine. This looks different for each rider in its practical application. For example, some riders like to spend the first half of every ride as a training ride, others do it once a week or once a month depending on how often they ride. What we do know however, is that by increasing the frequency and implementation of training rides into your regime, it is likely to massively increase your rate of progression over time.  

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The content and how you structure a training ride varies, but think about the underlying skills such as manuals, slow speed balance, and bunny hops to name a few. Then isolating specific areas of a track where you can begin to implement those skills. Finally, how to put that all together in a run or between multiple features in a trail.

If you would like to find out more about how to better improve and structure a training ride, or the particular drills you should be doing to improve a specific area of your riding, please get in touch. ALine has some fantastic courses that do exactly that, from fundamental building blocks and movement patters that underpin much of what we do on a bike, to flowing down a trail in an effortless fashion, to managing technical and steep terrain with fluidity and commitment.

I look forward to hearing from many of you in the future. ALine wishes you a great festive period and new year. We hope this helps. 

Keep it rubber side down, enjoy the ride, and see you next time.

ALine

Dr Gareth Jones (ALine UK manager)

Top Tips - Bike Set Up

Get the Bike Set up right

Before thinking about getting out on the trail and improving your skills, there is a lot you can do with getting your set up right. We all know bikes can be expensive, but there are some relatively inexpensive ways to really improve your experience on a trail and to make the most out of your ride.

You have six main contact points, four between the bike and yourself, and two between the bike and the trail. You can see a big benefit from making sure all of these are optimised. 

1.     Grips. By keeping up to date with replacing your handlebar grips, making sure they have plenty of life left in them can help your hands feel comfy, help to reduce arm pump, and inspire confidence. Grips can often be forgotten about, but by keeping up to date on maintenance of these will go a long way! Also, it is worth trying out some friends grips, what do you like, not like. Now a days you can get different lengths and widths of grips, let a lone the many different styles.

2.     Flat Pedals. Everyone needs to give flat pedals a go. If you are normally a clipped in rider, give flat pedals a go! This will improve your overall control of the bike, making you more of a driver, rather than a passenger on the bike. I myself ride clips, however regularly change between the two as they both have their pro's and cons, being good on both makes you a more all round rider. If you are already a flat pedal advocate, great! However, I have seen many people who's flat pedals were probably not up to standard or were due for being replaced through missing pins. Two main points: Firstly, when a flat pedal has lots some of its pins or they have warn down it is probably time to renew. Secondly, there is a huge selection, ensuring that the pedal platforms are a sufficient size will really help with leg fatigue during a ride, and maintenance of grip and stability on the pedals. If you have big feet, make sure you go for a big platform. 

3.     Tyres. The final contact points are your tyres on the trail. We see it quite often where people's tyres have perhaps seen better days. Ensuring your tyres have plenty of life in them will help so much to get the most out of your rides. A tyre with little tread can make the bike feel twitchy, this then transfers into riding tight. Riding a tyre with good life will maximise your grip on the trail, which can then in turn translate into confidence on the trail - again leading you to be a driver and not a passenger on the bike.  A lot of manufacturers now a days make great tyres, whether it be dry, wet, or a great all rounder..

It may be worth checking over your bike and thinking, are the main contact points OK...

Thanks for reading the first of ALine Mountain Bike Coaching's monthly top tips. 

 

Resistance training

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Resistance Training for Cycling – What it improves and why all cyclists should be doing some.

If you have little experience of off the bike training, or have never trained in a gym or a resistance training environment then this article is for you.

There are a multitude of benefits to be gained from resistance training for overall health, injury resistance and performance and thankfully long gone are days where it was believed that resistance training should be avoided for endurance based sports. The belief that only low weights should be lifted for high reps is a thing of the past, and current research suggest that endurance athletes gain more benefit from lifting relatively heavy weights for lower reps, in a strength training modality (don’t worry we aren’t talking strongman/power lifting here).

A well designed Strength and Conditioning programme will include exercises that improve the lower and upper body as well as the core and won’t result in excessive size or weight gain, despite helping to increase force production, pedalling efficiency and the ability to ride harder or longer. It really is a win, win scenario and if carried out correctly will only complement your cycling ability.

Now we all know time on the bike, carrying out the actual sport or skill is important and cycling is what we enjoy the most right?! But as little as 1-2 hours per week, in particular throughout winter when you aren’t riding quite as much in the evenings will go a long way to keeping you fit, healthy and always ready to ride that bike.

Ant Henry

ALine SnC Coach

ALine Welcomes Ant Henry

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Catalog pose

Massive huge gigantic thanks to everyone who has booked in on a session, recommended us to a friend, shared or liked a post.

ALine Coaching is continuing to expand. Carrying on with of principles of professional experienced coach's we have an announcement. 

We are stoked to welcome Anthony Henry to the team.

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Ant is a passionate mountainbiker who has dedicated his training and education to athlete development with Mountain Biking being his main focus.

Staying true to the ALine roots Ant is a veteran of Whistler Bike Park where he undertook his initial guiding and skill development training. Whilst in Whistler Ant specialised in kids camps ...... hint hint.

Ant has been working with the team in the background for a couple of months and we are stoked. We think you will be also.

A Graduate in sports science from Sheffield Hallam University Ant went on to a dedicated and integral member of the BlueSteel SnC team who specialise in strength and conditioning with a keen interest in mountain bike specific training. With BlueSteel Ant has been lucky enough to work with some of top performing DH athletes in the world.

With Dr Gareth Jones bringing his sports psychology and now Ant Henry with his body and strength mechanics, we are building a strong team of professionals to help you get where you want to go. 

Is it mental? or is it physical? we find the two are generally linked but either way, we have got you covered.

 

Thanks again

 

The ALine team

Join the Revolution - Hannah Tew

At the end of last summer we were up at Revolution Bike Park running our usual Join the Revolution course but this time we brought the kick ass filming of Ben from Hidden Media.

Hannah Tew came on our Fundamentals course a few years ago on a skinny tyred commuter bike. At that point she had no idea of the world she was about to launch herself into. 3 years later.....

Hell yeah Hannah, so stoked!

You killed it.

 

 

Our next course is on the 17th of Feb.

Join the Revolution
120.00
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Cotic and Mojo Join Chromag

Cotic and Fox Step Up for the small people.

2016 here we come! So pleased to announce we will be riding a Cotic Rocket kitted out Fox and Chromag.

Wait till you see the pics of new build! We are waiting on a few more components before we can post up properly but Im just so pleased with the set up and the way it has worked out I just had to share it. 

This all came about from a tech talk with Chris Porter and a research / development day at Revolution with Cotic. 

Chris Porter has completely changed how i look at suspension and during timed training on the Cotic day, I put in faster times on the Rocket than on my own trail bike and my DH bike.

More pics coming soon!

 

 

JPJ