David Windebank, Author at Wye MTB

Planning a new MTB Adventure for our clients

What does it take for WyeMTB to come up with a new guided ride?  Simply put….we get out on the bikes and explore some great riding locations!

South Wales and the Wye Valley host a number of amazing trail centres – like Pedalabikeaway in the Forest of Dean (ok, technically it’s just over the border in England but hey!), Cwmcarn in the Risca valley and the Afan/Glyncorrwg centres near Swansea. These sites have been at the forefront of Mountain biking in South Wales for over 15 years!

Times and riding preferences have evolved though, and not everyone enjoys long, pedally climbs to access trails, while others are just keen to maximise their gravity fed riding time!

Uplift days at trail centres and bike parks provide a popular way of delivering a gravity rush and have appeared at many of our favourite spots – Pedalabikeaway, Cwmcarn, Black Mountain Cycle Centre and not forgetting BikePark Wales.  All these sites show how mountain biking can really help support a community – creating new jobs and filling up the local accommodation, pubs and restaurants.

At WyeMTB, we really wanted to create uplift assisted rides with a distinct difference. Trips which allow you to really get off the beaten track away from the masses, giving you breathtaking scenery, amazing singletrack, and taking you to areas you might not be able to explore on your own!  We have spent years exploring the Wye Valley, Brecon Beacons and Black Mountains and decided to join up our favourite rides with access in our trusty Landrover – taking the strain out of the climbs, skipping the boring road bits and leaving plenty of energy to descend some amazing natural single track.

We launched two vehicle assisted guided rides in 2019:

Wye Valley Off Piste has rapidly become a South Wales classic. A dedicated uplifted guided ride around the Wye Valley taking in places like Tintern, Llandogo, Redbrook – starting and finishing from Pedalabikeaway in the Forest of Dean.  This trip has minimal climbing on the bike and takes in some properly challenging descents, with rock fests, flowy singletrack and technical, steep off piste trails. Plus lunch is in a brewery …what is not to like?

Our second day trip is the Brecon Epic, based in the Brecon Beacons National Park, Wales.

This ride is aimed at really getting you right “out there” to explore all the treats the Brecon Beacons has to offer. The trip is a return to the true core of mountain biking; big climbs (maybe even some hike-a-bike), amazing scenery all day, remote riding and some sustained mountain descents.

These two days out are really polar opposites of each other, so this winter we’ve tried to come up with a new trip – something sort of in the middle.   We have spent days and days in properly biblical weather researching some new descents and revisiting old favourites and we think we’ve cracked it.  Our new trip is called the Black Bomb, and is based around the Black Mountains near Abergavenny – delivering big scenery, remoteness, connection with nature and some mind blowing descending. Our 1st trip runs in South Wales on the 1st March – St David’s Day! Yes there will be some Welsh Cakes guaranteed!  If you want more detail please check the website and our next blog dedicated to the Black Bomb landing next week.

British Cycling Mountain Bike Leadership

Mountain Bike Leadership

Mountain bike leadership, National Governing bodies and insurance. What’s is all about?

WyeMTB is an accredited centre through British Cycling which allows us to deliver their Mountain Bike Leadership Awards. David Windebank better known as ‘Windy’ was one of the original BC leadership tutors moving from the Scottish Cycling Mountain Bike program when it was updated in 2011, since then he has gone to become a Level 1, Level 2 and Level 3 tutor.

Last month saw Gareth Sheppard complete the tutor pathway under the watchful eyes of Rachael Crewsmith and Windy to become a Level 2 Mountain bike leadership tutor. Gareth brings a vast amount of experience to the WyeMTB team, leading the British Cycling Paralympic team to London 2012 and taking the Welsh team to the Commonwealth Games. One of the first level 3 guides back in 2013 the pathway for Gareth to becoming a tutor has been long but fulfilling journey!

What is the British Cycling Mountain Bike Leadership award Scheme?

British Cycling (BC) is the national governing body of cycling in the UK. Over the years, BC have been focused on road cycling, track cycling and cyclocross. In recent years their focus has moved to more recreational cycling like Mountain Biking and this is where the leadership scheme fits.

Membership and Registration, why so much?

To become a mountain bike leader, you will need to become a member of BC and register with the MTB leadership scheme. If this is the first time joining a national governing body this will feel like a lot of money, it is, but you get a lot for your money!

The majority of the payment goes to the leadership department to affiliate with their Leadership scheme, and you will be sent a great 200+ page handbook based on the level 2 Mountain Bike Leader Award.  The cost also includes the compulsory Level 2 Safeguard training course and finally, this is the best part; once you are qualified, BC will provide you with public liability insurance which can be used when leading guided rides…. Amazing!!!!

British Cycling Mountain Bike Leadership

The British Cycling Mountain Bike Leadership scheme is split into 3 levels

  • Level 1: Currently a site-specific training course, used in conjunction with a British Cycling centre accreditation. There are some developments coming with this award, so watch this space!

 

  • Level 2: The MOST popular level and the one that most people enrol as their first step to becoming a mountain bike leader. The award is split into 3 parts
    • Training: 2-day event where the BC tutor runs through a range of topics, for example, trail side repairs, navigation, leadership styles and a number of practical sessions
    • Consolidation: at the end of the training event your tutor will sit down and create a development plan specific to each candidate. This development plan will look at exactly what needs to be done before assessment.
    • Assessment: 1-day event, a BC tutor will run through the criteria provided by British Cycling. The development plans are designed to ensure the candidates are ready for their assessment. The key to this is that candidates can present themselves then they believe they are ready.

 

  • Level 3: The top-level award and can only be reached if you have either completed the Level 2 award or hold an older MTB leadership award still recognised by BC e.g. MBLA. The award is split into the same three sections as the level 2 award, however the course is more intense and equips you with the tools to  lead sessions in wild and remote areas.

WyeMTB run all the above courses and dates for 2020 are live in our website. We run the course across South Wales and Cannock Chase. If you would like more information please drop us an email: Hello@WyeMTB.co.uk or call Windy on 07887998795 for more details.

Does your Guide’s bag really need to be that heavy?

 

Mountain bike leaders guide bag

CamelBak KUDO 20l

Guide bags come in a variety of shapes and sizes, but one thing is clear, if you are leading clients you need to ensure you have the correct equipment. Here at WyeMTB we like to split this bag into two main sections

1  Emergency group kit e.g. if a rider is hurt and needs medical assistance, do you have the provision to keep the group and the casualty comfortable and protected from the elements?

2 Bike repair kit

Avoidance is better than cure, so if the Guide checks their clients are carrying the following items;

  • a spare layer
  • a rear mech hanger for their bike
  • inner tube
  • their own medication

Additionally, by having the clients complete a full M check of their bikes at home, they should identify any issues with the bike before they head out on the guided ride.

Guided rides happen in a vast array of locations; the local park, the local trail centre in the Forest of Dean and the deepest darkest parts of the Brecon Beacons National Park. The further you move away from civilisation the higher the consequences are if there is a accident or a mechanical. Having a fully equipped bag  that is checked before every ride will help with these incidents.

The essential equipment for a British Cycling Mountain Bike Leader will carry in their guide bag.

  • Well stocked first aid kit – including trauma bandage, we keep this close to hand!
  • A comprehensive bike repair kit
  • Group Shelter, check our Blog on group shelters, and a survival blanket or Blizzard blanket
  • Extra layer for the casualty to wear if they have an off, ideally a synthetic layer works well as it hasgreat thermal qualities even when wet
  • Spare hat and gloves – This could be weather dependent however e.g. if its 30′ outside do you need these extras?
  • Nokia phone where the battery lasts for ever. Make sure you register it with 999 which allows you to text in an emergency if you don’t have mobile signal
  • Physical map of the area you are working in, a compass and the skills to use them both!
  • Procedures in place – late back, accident/injury, mechanical beyond repair
  • Energy gel – for those clients at risk of bonking!

 

Mountain bike leadership kit

Mountain bike leaders bag

WyeMTB run a number of short courses from Pedalabikeaway trail centre in the Forest of Dean, one of our most popular courses is Trail side repairs. If you want to bush up on those skills check the half day course out.

 

The Group Shelter – Just as important as your First Aid Kit?

Two group shelters both fit 8 people….. which one will you always carry as a Mountain Bike Leader?

Working as a commercial mountain guide requires you to carry some essential equipment as we have a duty of care to our clients. Carrying a well equipped first aid kit as a Guide is obvious, but over recent times, opinions on the group shelter or KISO (Karrimor Instructor Survival Unit – who remembers them?) have been conflicted on whether they are needed or not.

Emergency group shelters should be carried, but who uses their emergency shelter for sheltering from the wind, having a cuppa during a ride, or even doing some trailside repairs?  The word emergency sounds a bit harsh and over egged, we prefer the title of group shelter, and we use ours on a daily basis.

Over the years, group shelters have become more common place in the mountain bike leadership world, with better manufacturing techniques, well designed fabrics,  and reasonable price levels have seen an increase and a change in views that a Mountain Bike Leader should be carrying a group shelter

In the Winter of 2018, WyeMTB were introduced to a Welsh company called ‘Summit Gear’, their Supalite Bothy bag, is a real game changer. Their group shelters have taken all the great elements of the original KISO shelter, but striped out all the non-essential parts, but has retained some key features, ripstop silicone fabric, double sewed material, vent and life time guarantee. The icing on the cake, the shelter weight 320gs and has an insane packdown size, which is around the size of your fist for a good size 6-8 person shelter. We have had 8 adults on ours on a regular basis!

Whatever your choice in group shelter, don’t just leave it collecting crumbs in the bottom of your rucksack, get it out and use it!