Introduction to Mountain Bike Racing

Firecrest MTB – Young Rider Development Programme – DeVo
Introduction to Mountain Bike Racing

Mountain biking has many different sub-disciplines, styles and formats. One such sub-category of mountain biking is racing, which offers a fun way to compete against others, challenge yourself and get more out of your riding.

This guide focusses on three of the racing disciplines for mountain bikes: – Cross-country, Downhill and Enduro. Giving you an insight into the sport of mountain biking, the disciplines, the equipment, the races on offer, how to get started and the right races for you.

The Disciplines

Each of the mountain bike race disciplines’ tests different aspects of a rider fitness, strength and riding skills. Specific mountain bikes have been developed to meet the requirements of each of the race disciplines. Cross-country bikes are designed to be ridden at high speeds over long distances, downhill bikes are designed to take on the challenges of steep and technical terrain and enduro bikes are designed to tackle a range of technical terrain both uphill and downhill at speed. With the boom in Enduro racing creating a new genera of mountain bike and mountain bike races and events that have appealed to a broad range of riders of all ages and experience due to the mix of skills required and the fun format of the races combining the elements of Cross-Country and Downhill Racing.

Cross-Country (XC) Mountain Bike Racing

Cross-country mountain bike racing is a mass start event and is raced around a taped circuit. The circuits are normally 4-6km in length, including uphill, downhill, technical features, jumps, drops and singletrack. The age and experienced based category system determines the number of laps that you’ll race.

Cross-country is an exciting race discipline as you are bar-to-bar with competitors fighting for position. It’s also a good test of fitness and bike handling skills. It’s also the only mountain bike discipline to be raced at the Olympics.


Cross-Country Race Bikes

The ideal cross-country race bike is either a hardtail or short-travel full-suspension bike. The bikes are geared to handle the climbs and the bikes have tyres that offer decent traction but roll quickly. Weight is key and the modern XC bikes are the lightest and strongest they’ve been.

Clothing and Equipment

Most XC racers will wear Lycra shorts and a jersey, you don’t need to worry about body armour because the trails are not overly technical, and cooling and freedom of movement are key. A well-ventilated open faced mountain bike helmet is ideal, too.


Mountain Bike Downhill Racing

Downhill racing is a timed run from the top to the bottom of a downhill track. Riders compete individually on a fully taped course with the fastest time in each category winning.

Depending on the location and size of the event, courses will vary in difficulty, but most especially local and regional events will offer safer secondary routes around highly technical obstacles and sections.

The downhill racing scene is friendly, thanks in part to riders competing against the clock rather than against one another on a track. The format usually sees the fastest rider going down the hill last, making for an exciting culmination to the category and the days racing as that riders does their best to hold onto the fastest time in their category or on the day to take the win.

Due to the nature of the tracks and the features they include, downhill requires skill, commitment and confidence, this results in some spectacular riding making it great for spectators.

To compete at the highest level, you need to be fit, but downhill is more about skills, strength and power compared to cross-country. So, if you prefer to practise corners and jumps rather than hammering out the miles, downhill is probably the discipline for you.

Downhill Race Bikes

If you’re racing on shorter tracks at a local or regional level, a hardtail bike with a suspension fork and disc brakes should be fine. Bigger races (and tracks) are more suited to dedicated downhill mountain bikes or full-suspension bikes with specialist tyres and tougher components. Expect to see dual-crown forks, narrow gear ranges, lots of suspension and big disc rotors.

Clothing and Equipment

For safety, a full-face helmet is mandatory when racing, and it’s wise to use body armour, including knee pads, elbow pads and back protectors.


Mountain Bike Enduro Racing

Enduro racing consists of multiple timed stages (mostly downhill) with liaison sections in-between, joining them all together. In more serious races, you’ll need to complete the liaison stages within a time limit. While you can ride with your mates between the timed stages, you race the stages against the clock individually. Think Rallying but on Mountain Bikes!

The appeal for many of Enduro is that it offers loads of bike time compared to racing downhill. Similarly, to downhill, it’s a great test of skill, but the fitness element means it’s not totally dissimilar to cross-country either. Overall, it’s very sociable and quite relaxed making it great for riders of all ages and abilities.

This type of racing is for people looking to challenge their bike-handling skills and fitness levels together. It’s also ideal for those looking to spend a day out on the bike with plenty of racing.

Enduro Race Bikes

To compete in enduro races, you’ll need anything from a hardtail with a suspension fork to a longer-travel trail bike or a dedicated enduro bike. There’s not much difference between the two but the enduro bike will be dialled in for a day’s racing.

Clothing and Equipment

It’s worth getting a lighter-weight full-face helmet, which will offer the necessary protection without making you overheat on the transitions between stages and the pedalling sections of the races.


The Governing Bodies

Mountain Bike Racing is recognised and sanctioned globally by the Union Cyclist International (UCI) the sport’s International Governing Body and the rights holder for the World Championships and the World Cup Series which along with the Olympic Cross-Country Race are the premier global competitions in mountain biking.

The UCI recognise the governing bodies of cycle sport in each country, in the UK that’s British Cycling. British Cycling are responsible for all cycle sport across the UK. They sanction the various National Championships (awarding the National Champions Jerseys) National Series, regional and in some cases the local races. With reponsibilty for selecting the British Team for the World Championships and World Cup events.

British Cycling oversee the National Rankings which are used to move riders through the ability-based categories within mountain biking and for priority entry into the National Series. Many races are sanction by British Cycling which means they will award ranking points, but some organisers have their own event insurance in place and in these instances, there are no ranking points awarded.

Enduro has its first National Championships in 2024 which is a big step up in recognition. It also means the winners will be crowned National Champions and awarded a National Jersey for the first time.

For more information on the Governing Bodies, you can visit their website here: –

UCI – www.uci.org

British Cycling – www.britishcycling.org.uk/mtb


The Race Categories

Mountain Bike Race Categories are based on age and ability. The age category system can be confusing at first as it’s based on the year of your birthday rather than your age in that year.

So, for example if you’re aged between 12-14 years of age you’ll be in the Juvenile category. However, you will move into the Youth category in the year of your 15th birthday. So, if you’re 14 in January you can ride for the majority of the year that your 14 years of age. Whereas if your birthday is in December then you’ll only have a matter of days in the category at the age of 14 before moving up to the Youth category as one of the youngest riders in the category. There are all sorts of arguments for and against this system and of course for the younger riders you could as “is it fair”? Of course, it’s hard to know how to make this system any farer but it’s important to remember that it’s the year of your birthday not your age in that year when it comes to entering the right age group category. Once you’re out of the younger age group categories then your birthday really has little bearing on when you move up and ironically you move up into the Masters (30-39), Vets (40-49) and Grand Vets (49-59) in the year of your birthday.

The Junior Category is for riders in the years from their sixteenth to eighteenth birthdays. This is also the age that riders are eligible to compete at World Cups in a dedicated Junior Category. When a rider is out of the year of their 18th Birthday, they move into the Senior Category for riders aged 19-29. There’s also the option to be promoted into one of the ability categories either straight from Junior if you are riding at the appropriate level or from senior as you score ranking points at the races. From the Senior Category you’re promoted into the Expert Category and then from there you’re promoted into the Elite Category also known as the Pro/Elite category as this is the level where riders will be competing professionally.

When a rider turn 29 they can move back into the age categories which starts with Masters for riders from 29-39 years of age, then Veterans for riders from 40 – 49 years of age, then Grand Vets for riders from 50-59 and Super Vets for riders from 60 – 69.

British Cycling have a page explaining the Mountain Bike Category System here: –

British Cycling Category System


The Races

It may surprise you to know that for a country with very few mountains we have dominated the mountain bike racing on the World stage over the years. Much of that is due to our fantastic domestic mountain bike race scene with races for riders of all ages and abilities across all the mountain bike disciplines. From local grassroots races which are ideal for those starting out and looking to race on their local trails through to Regional Series for riders looking to develop their craft and National Series that use some of the most demanding tracks in the world there is truly something for everyone.

Here are our favourites and links to their websites for details on their current races and race series.

Cross Country

British Cycling National Cross-Country Series

The National Series is jewel in the Cross-Country Racings Crown. With a 5-race series and a stand-alone National Championships.

British Cycling – National Cross-Country Series

Southern XC

The regional series for the South of England. Great venues and a relaxed racing vibe make the Southern XC a must for riders looking to go head to head with the best racers in the South of England.

Southern XC Series

Gorrick XC

The Gorrick races have been around since the dawn of the sport. Based in the South of England these are a great way to give XC racing a go and ideal for the seasoned XC racer to stretch their legs.

www.gorrick.com


Downhill

British Cycling National Downhill Series

The National Series is jewel in the Downhill Racings Crown. With a 5-race series and a stand-alone National Championships in 2024. For this season they’ve reintroduced the rule that gives riders with 150 National Ranking Points priority entry to the series. That proirty period expires at the beginning of February when riders without points can enter on a first come first served basis. The thinking behind the reintroduction of this rule is that it will ensure the riders competing at the National Races have the right level of experience to compete at this level. If you’re looking to start racing at this level, then start with the British Cycling ranked regional events and build up your experience and the points required to enter the Nationals.

British Cycling – National Downhill Series

Pearce Cycles

What the Pearce Cycles team don’t know about running downhill races isn’t worth knowing. The team has years of experience, and they know how to put on a great event. Billed as a regional series but for many as good if not better than the Nationals these races are the perfect stepping stone between the regional and the National events. The courses are great a step up from the regional races at many venues but there are always B-lines for the technical sections. The hardest part of the Pearce Downhills is getting an entry as these races are extremely popular and sell out quickly when race entries go live. A converted race plate and the opportunity to race their events means you’ve already won. Joking aside if you’re looking for a series of event to target in a season the Peace Cycles Races are the ones to choose.

www.pearcecycles.co.uk

Mini Downhill

There are a number of downhill race organisers that have jumped on the Mini Downhill bandwagon running their own version of the ‘Mini Downhill’ but these are the originals. With some of their most popular downhill races taking place over the winter months in the Forest of Dean they run events throughout the year. The Minidownhills are a great way to get into downhill racing. The tracks are technical enough to test your skills and fitness with optional b-lines on the more technical sections. Check their website for the latest events.

www.minidownhill.com

Racers Guild Racing

Running their events out of the popular Style Cop Mountain Bike Trails in Cannock Chase  the Racers Guild offer a great way to get into downhill racing and the opportunity for seasoned racers to test their skills and fitness against the clock.

The Racers Guild – Facebook Group

Gravity Events UK

Another organiser with a packed calendar of downhill events is Gravity Events UK. Running local, regional and National Events. Keep an eye on their website and Facebook Page as they update their calendar.

www.gravity-events.uk

MIJ Downhill

With events from regionals to Nationals MIJ have something for everyone. Running a packed calendar of races. Keep an eye on their Facebook Page as they update their calendar.

www.facebook.com/mij.downhill

Danny Harts Descend Bike Park

If you’re looking to get started and live in the North East of England (or are prepared to travel) then the races at Danny Harts Bike Park are great. With a choice of trails the races are aimed at all levels of rider looking to put their skills to the test between the tapes.

www.descendbikepark.com

Crickley Flyers

Great grassroots events run at the Fly Up 417 Bike Park in Gloucestershire. These are a great place to get started in downhill racing. These Go-Ride Events are aimed at young riders and first time downhill racers. Great tracks and a fantastic atmosphere make for a great introduction to downhill racing.

crickleyflyersmtbclub.co.uk


Enduro

National Enduro Series

The National Series is put together by a consortium of Enduro Race Organisers under the British National Enduro Series banner. Bringing together the best venues and organisers across the UK to put together the National Series.

British National Enduro Series

Southern Enduro

One of the UK’s leading Regional Series a great stepping stone to the Nationals. Racing across the South of England with some amazing venues and a great days racing.

Southernenduro.co.uk

Mini Enduro

The Mini Enduro events are another one to go to if you’re looking for that stepping stone from Regional to National Level racing. Great venues, a highly experienced organising team and a great days racing.

minienduro.tv

Pedalhounds

A great way to get into Enduro Racing and equally popular with seasoned racers. The Pedalhounds races are run in the South of England at some great venues. A great day out on trails that are designed to challenge your skills but at the same time not be overly technical.

pedalhounds.co.uk

Hope PMBA Enduro Series

With events in England, Scotland and Wales it would be easy to argue that this is a National Series. The Hope PMBA Enduro Series blurs that line in many ways but with the events focussed on having fun there’s something for everyone. The tracks are challenging and the days are often quite long but if that’s what you’re looking for then this is the series for you.

www.pmbaenduro.co.uk

Adult DeVo – Sunday 17th September – 9.30am – 1pm

The Firecrest Mountain Bikxing Adult Rider Development Programme (RDP) based at Rushmere Country Park is your chance to join a Group Skills Course for riders aged 18 years old and over, focussed on Skills Development through a range of terrain.

Adult DeVo – 18yrs+
Rushmere Country Park
Sunday 17th September – 9.30am – 1pm
Book Your Place Here>>>

Firecrest Mountain Biking’s Skills Training is underpinned by ‘The System’ our proven Skills Training methods which supports our ‘holistic approach’ to MTB Skills Development. ‘The System’ enables us to work with you and  give you an insight into ‘why to do’ things over ‘how to do’ them. This in turn gives you a unique perspective on developing your Skills and how to improve your performance when you’re riding trails.

This Group Course will enable you to access Firecrest MTB Skills Training at a significantly reduced rate. It is a chance to join a focussed Training Group aimed at enabling you to achieve your skills goals.

Check out Neil Hawkins Photo’s from June’s Adult DeVo Here>>>

The Course is ideal for Downhill and Enduro Riders new to the Firecrest MTB Skills Courses and riders that have previously had MTB Skills Training from Firecrest Mountain Biking. The Course will cover an introduction to the ‘The System’ and then a range of ‘Technical Trail Features’, Including but not limited to; Jumps, Drops Corners and Technical Downhill Sections showing how you can use ‘The System’ to optimise your Skills, Mindset, and Performance.

‘The System’ will enable you to understand how to optimise your riding and easily identify areas that you need to focus on as you develop your skills. Tapping into our experience will give you the knowledge and confidence needed to ‘fast track’ the improvements to make those gains that will have you riding faster with more confidence.

Adult DeVo – 18yrs+
Rushmere Country Park
Sunday 17th September – 9.30am – 1pm
Book Your Place Here>>>


 

Imagine Cruising – One Life Wish – Melisa Learns to Mountain Bike

“Hi my names Melisa, I’ve been given your number by my husband Alex who used to ride on your Young Rider Development Programme – DeVo back in the 00’s. He said you’d be the right person to help me learn to mountain bike. I’ve just won a competition through my work and they’ll pay for me to be trained so that I can surprise my husband and ride an MTB Enduro race with him”. Of course that’s not your usual telephone enquiry but one that lead to a summer of skills training for Mel culminating in her first Mountain Bike Race at the Pedalhounds E-MTB Enduro early in October.

Mel works for Imagine Causing and the competition she’d won was their One Life Challenge. Where they fund their staff to pursue their own One Life Challenges. Mel’s husband Alex had brought her the bike and all the kit so she could join him and their 20 month old son out on the trails. Mel thought it would be a great way to facilitate the dream of adrenaline, fun and love-filled family memories for years to come and to prove to herself that any challenge is attainable.

Chatting through Mel’s goals I put together a programme of training courses to build here skills and confidence on her E-bike and to get her ready for her first E-MTB Enduro Race that she’d entered in October. Then we worked together on developing her skills, fitness and race craft to get her ready for the race and it was great to see Mel’s progression throughout the sessions and it was great to see her achieve her dream of lining up for her first race.

You can find out more and follow Mel’s journey on the Imagine Cruising website with video’s of her training journey culminating in a full video of her surprising her husband Alex at the race and how she got on between the tapes for the first time.

Find out all about Mel’s One Life Challenge and watch Mel’s video’s here>>

If you have a personal challenge or are looking to develop your mountain bike skills then we have a course for you. Find out more about our range of courses here>>>

Adult DeVo – Sunday 10th July – 9.30am – 1pm

The Firecrest Mountain Biking Adult Rider Development Programme (RDP) based at Rushmere Country Park works with some of the fastest Downhill and Enduro Racers in the UK. This is your chance to join a Group Skills Course for riders aged 18 years old and over, focussed on Skills Development through a range of terrain.

Adult DeVo – 18yrs+
Rushmere Country Park
Sunday 10th July – 9.30am – 1pm
Book Your Place Here>>>

Firecrest Mountain Biking’s Skills Training is underpinned by ‘The System’ our proven Skills Training methods which supports our ‘holistic approach’ to MTB Skills Development. ‘The System’ enables us to work with you and  give you an insight into ‘why to do’ things over ‘how to do’ them. This in turn gives you a unique perspective on polishing your Skills and how to improve your performance when your racing.

This Group Course will enable you to access Firecrest MTB Skills Training at a significantly reduced rate. It is a chance to join a focussed Training Group aimed at enabling you to achieve your skills goals.

Check out Neil Hawkins Photo’s from June’s Adult DeVo Here>>>

The Course is ideal for Downhill and Enduro Riders new to the Firecrest MTB Skills Courses and riders that have previously had MTB Skills Training from Firecrest Mountain Biking. The Course will cover an introduction to the ‘The System’ and then a range of ‘Technical Trail Features’, Including but not limited to; Jumps, Drops Corners and Technical Downhill Sections showing how you can use ‘The System’ to optimise your Skills, Mindset, and Performance.

‘The System’ will enable you to understand how to optimise your riding and easily identify areas that you need to focus on as you develop your skills. Tapping into our experience will give you the knowledge and confidence needed to ‘fast track’ the improvements to make those gains that will have you riding faster with more confidence.

 

FMTB Young Rider Development Programme – DeVo – Easter Holiday Courses 2022

We have a packed programme of Mountain Bike Skills Courses for kids over the Easter Holidays. With the Holidays split by a week for Beds and Bucks we have 3 weeks of sessions so you won’t miss out. With DeVo Level1 and DeVo Evo on Tuesday’s and DeVo Level2 all day on Thursday’s. We also have a Girls DeVo on Saturday 2nd April from 9.30am – 12.30pm.

The Level1 Courses can be booked through Eventbrite and the Level2 Courses are part of British Cycling Cycling Development Pathway Centres – Gravity Programme and can be booked through the British Cycling Website. Find out more about the opportunities through the British Cycling Development Pathway  and what it means for the DeVo Programme here>>>

Here’s our programme with links to the booking pages:-

DeVo Level2 – Saturday 2nd April
9.30am – 12.30pm – 12-18yrs of age
Rushmere Country Park
Book Your Place Here>>>

Girls DeVo
Saturday 2nd April
9.30am – 12.30pm
Rushmere Country Park
Book Your Place Here>>>

DeVo Level1 – Tuesday 5th April (Beds Easter Holidays)
10am – 12pm – 8-12yrs of age
Rushmere Country Park
Book Your Place Here>>>

DeVo Evo – Tuesday 5th April (Beds Easter Holidays)
1pm – 3pm – 8-12yrs of age
Rushmere Country Park
Book Your Place Here>>>

DeVo Level1 – Tuesday 12th April (Bucks and Beds Easter Holidays)
10am – 12pm – 8-12yrs of age
Rushmere Country Park
Book Your Place Here>>>

DeVo Evo – Tuesday 12th April (Bucks and Beds Easter Holidays)
1pm – 3pm – 8-12yrs of age
Rushmere Country Park
SOLD OUT

DeVo Level2 – Thursday 14th April (Bucks and Beds Easter Holidays)
10am – 4pm – 12-18yrs of age
Rushmere Country Park
Book Your Place Here>

DeVo Level2 – Saturday 16th April
9.30am – 12.30pm – 12-18yrs of age
Rushmere Country Park
Bookings open 04.04.22 at 10am

DeVo Level1 – Tuesday 19th April (Bucks Beds Half Term)
10am – 12pm – 8-12yrs of age
Rushmere Country Park
Book Your Place Here>>>

DeVo Evo – Tuesday 19th April (Bucks Beds Half Term)
1pm – 3pm – 8-12yrs of age
Rushmere Country Park
Book Your Place Here>>>

DeVo Level2 – Thursday 21st April (Bucks and Beds Easter Holidays)
10am – 1pm – 12-18yrs of age
Rushmere Country Park
Book Your Place Here>

DeVo Level2 – Saturday 30th April
9.30am – 12.30pm – 12-18yrs of age
Rushmere Country Park
Bookings open 18.04.22 at 10am


 

Adult DeVo – Sunday 16th January – 9.30am – 1pm

The Firecrest Mountain Biking Adult Rider Development Programme (RDP) based at Rushmere Country Park works with some of the fastest Downhill and Enduro Racers in the UK. This is your chance to join a Group Skills Course for riders aged 18 years old and over, focussed on Skills Development through a range of terrain.

Adult DeVo – 18yrs+
Rushmere Country Park
Sunday 16th January 9.30am – 1pm
Book Your Place Here>>>

Firecrest Mountain Biking’s Skills Training is underpinned by ‘The System’ our proven Skills Training methods which supports our ‘holistic approach’ to MTB Skills Development. ‘The System’ enables us to work with you and  give you an insight into ‘why to do’ things over ‘how to do’ them. This in turn gives you a unique perspective on polishing your Skills and how to improve your performance when your racing.

This Group Course will enable you to access Firecrest MTB Skills Training at a significantly reduced rate. It is a chance to join a focussed Training Group aimed at enabling you to achieve your skills goals.

The Course is ideal for Downhill and Enduro Riders new to the Firecrest MTB Skills Courses and riders that have previously had MTB Skills Training from Firecrest Mountain Biking. The Course will cover an introduction to the ‘The System’ and then a range of ‘Technical Trail Features’, Including but not limited to; Jumps, Drops Corners and Technical Downhill Sections showing how you can use ‘The System’ to optimise your Skills, Mindset, and Performance.

‘The System’ will enable you to understand how to optimise your riding and easily identify areas that you need to focus on as you develop your skills. Tapping into our experience will give you the knowledge and confidence needed to ‘fast track’ the improvements to make those gains that will have you riding faster with more confidence.

 

FMTB Young Rider Development Programme – DeVo – Autumn Half Term Holiday Courses 2021

We have a packed programme of Mountain Bike Skills Courses for kids over Autumn Half Term Holidays. With DeVo Level1 and DeVo Evo on Tuesday and DeVo Level2 all day on Thursday. We also have a Girls DeVo on Saturday 23rd October from 9.30am – 12.30pm.

The Level1 Courses can be booked through Eventbrite and the Level2 Courses are part of British Cycling Cycling Development Pathway Centres – Gravity Programme and can be booked through the British Cycling Website. Find out more about the opportunities through the British Cycling Development Pathway  and what it means for the DeVo Programme here>>>

Here’s our programme with links to the booking pages:-

DeVo Level2 – Saturday 18th October
9.30am – 12.30pm – 12-18yrs of age
Rushmere Country Park
Book Your Place Here>>>

Girls DeVo – Saturday 23rd October
9.30am – 12.30pm – 12-18yrs of age
Rushmere Country Park
Book Your Place Here>>>

DeVo Level1 – Tuesday 26th October
10am – 12pm – 8-12yrs of age
Rushmere Country Park
Book Your Place Here>>>

DeVo Evo – Tuesday 26th October
1pm – 3pm – 8-12yrs of age
Rushmere Country Park
Book Your Place Here>>>

DeVo Level2 – Thursday 28th October
10pm – 4pm – 12-18yrs of age
Rushmere Country Park
Book Your Place Here>>>

Firecrest Mountain Biking – Covid-19 Status Update

Forestry England have updated their guidance and I can return to running group course coaching alongside the 1-2-1 courses I have been running at Aston Hill Bike Park.

This means that I can get back to running the Young Rider Development Programme – DeVo and the Adult Rider Development Programme group courses.

There’s just enough time to squeeze in some Young Rider Development Courses before the end of the Summer Holidays. We are running at Level1 and DeVo Evo Course on Tuesday 25th August and a Level2 Course on Thursday 27th August. You can find out more and book your place here>>>

Again I would like to thank everyone that has supported me through these challenging times. It really means a lot to me to have you checking in and supporting me and my family in all the ways you have. I know you can’t wait to get back to improving your skills too. Thank you.

I’d also like to welcome those who have taken up or got back into Mountain Biking during lockdown. if you looking to improve your skills then have a look through the range of mountain bike skills courses we offer or get in touch. There’s no better time to get off on the right track than at the beginning and i have range of courses for riders of all ages and abilities.

Thanks again and I look forward to seeing you on Aston Hill!

DeVo Level2 Saturday Morning Courses – Winter 2020

Level2  Saturday Morning Courses:

2. Saturday 18th January – 10am – 1pm
3. Saturday 1st February – 10am – 1pm
4. Saturday 15th February – 10am – 1pm

BOOK YOUR PLACE HERE>>>

The DeVo2 Mountain Bike Skills Courses at Aston Hill Bikepark will get you riding your Mountain Bike with more confidence and speed. They are a great opportunity to meet likeminded young riders and progress your riding. From getting faster on the trails on Aston Hill through to racing at Local, Regional and National Competitions.

For young mountain bikers coming through our programme of Mountain Bike Skills Courses they build on the skills taught on the Level1 Courses. All the Training Courses Firecrest run provide an insight into the Mountain Bike Skills Essentials that enable you to get the most from your Mountain Bike.

Firecrest MTB’s DeVo Level2 Mountain Bike Skills Courses will be using all the trails on Aston Hill from the Pumptrack to the tight and technical Black Run through to the big jumps and drops on Surface to Air!

All the training is given under the watchful eye of Firecrest MTB’s highly experienced staff providing expert tuition. If you’re looking to develop your Mountain Bike Skills these are the courses for you!

Firecrest’s Mountain Bike Skills Courses are structured to provide a progressive programme of Mountain Bike Skills Training so you can come on them all or just come along on the days you can make to suit.

* All Prices subject to EventBrite Booking Fee.

MX Fitness – Alan Milway – Strength and Conditioning Workshop

Saturday 9th December – Birmingham University Sports Campus

As a Coach or a Competitor there’s always more to learn and things to improve. Anyone that thinks or dares to tells you any different hasn’t quite lost their mind but has certainly lost the opportunity to expand it. There is one thing for sure, although you might like to think you know everything this is rarely the case and in sport in particular there is one constant which is change.

Over the last 20 – 30 years the field of Sports Science has exploded with ways and means to measure and develop athletes that are beyond the wildest dreams of the professional sports men and women in the 60’s and 70’s. Although some athletes might like to hark back to a time before everything in professional sport was measured and calibrated in the 21st century its the way things are and it’s a big business.

For me continuous self improvement has always underpinned what I’ve been doing. The opportunity to perform, review, and improve, has enabled me to squeeze the best out of what I’ve been doing and to continue the push for perfection. Finding the smallest of tweaks and tuning things to find a performance advantage. When you do it often enough It becomes a habit and drives a culture that has enabled me to remain engaged in doing what I love for the past 27 years.

With that in mind I contacted Alan to ask if he offered a Coach Development Workshop that would enable me to gain an insight into the way in which he worked with his athletes. Alan came back with the cracking suggestion of coming along on one of his training days as a participant. What better way to see how he works with his athletes than to become one!

I booked onto Alan’s MX Training Workshop early in December and was eagerly looking forward to the opportunity to get to see one of the best Strength and Conditioning Coaches in Mountain Biking, in action. For those of you that have been living under a rock Alan has worked with some of the biggest names in Mountain Biking Racing from the Atherton Family to Tracy Moseley and has built a reputation on the results that the riders in his charge have achieved on the International Race Circuit.

I also managed to get Firecrest MTB DH Team Riders Chris Cockrill and Tom Shakespeare to come along with me. Chris is a seasoned FMTB DH Team Rider and young Tom is a new signing for 2018 who will be competing in the Youth Category and looking to build on his 2017 season as a Development Rider. The three of us made a very interesting cross-section of athletes for Alan. I was the oldest on the day and having spent hours in the gym training back in the day (racing Cross-County) it was going to be interesting to see how I got on and what habits I’d picked up, or forgotten over the years. Tom at 14 years old is just starting out on his strength and conditioning journey. Training at home and at school to date, this was going to be a little different to his usual PE lessons. Chris won’t mind me saying he is always at the Gym, just a beast (check out his Instagram feed at chris_cockrill) The Gym is his ‘happy place’ aside from being out on the trails and he couldn’t wait for the day to get going.

We jumped in the car and headed up the M40 to Birmingham for the day. Checking in at Birmingham Universities Sports Campus makes you instantly feel like a professional. It’s an amazing facility with every base covered from a Sports Participation and a Sports Science perspective.

We met Alan and Ray Jakeman, Head of Strength and Conditioning at The University of Birmingham our Coaches for the day just before 10am, paper work was completed and we were weighed in and ready to go. Alan ran us through the Agenda for the day before subjecting us to the first batch of tests. The morning was spent testing out our flexibility and mobility with notes made of any imbalance to address later in the session.

Testing complete Alan and Ray then ran through a batch of exercises with us, which were aimed at targeting the imbalances that we’d identified – left to right, improving balance, mobility and/or flexibility. These specific exercises were great and showed up the missing elements in my Training Programme giving me some valuable exercises I will be adding to it going forward.

This took us up to a light lunch, as there was a batch of tests ahead of us where it wasn’t going to be good to have a heavy meal sitting on your stomach. Back to the Agenda and an easy intro, using the foam roller to work on the stresses and strains of the morning by pushing and stretching the muscles loosing them up for what lay ahead. The remedial side of things has never been a speciality of mine but I could definitely feel the stresses and strains ebbing away.

The afternoons tests were aimed at measuring our strength, power and endurance. The first test was the Jump Test. A pressure mat measured our explosive power from a standing squat and then a squat jump. If you ever want to feel like you’re wearing boots made of concrete just do this test.

Then it was onto the bike. Over the years I’ve done a number of max-power and threshold tests on a bike so I knew what to expect. For Tom this was his first and it hurt, but he took it in his stride and put in a great effort and I’m sure he’ll look back at this test with fond memories when he’s smashing them out in the future! Chris on the other hand had the WattBike screaming for mercy as he blasted his way through the tests. The only time I ever enjoy these tests is when they are over and this one was no different but I was pleased with the numbers and I’ll see what Alan comes back with when he’s crunched the data.

The next test was the Supine Pull. With my ‘arms of a sparrow’ I wasn’t looking forward to this one. Chris smashed it as expected and Tom did himself proud, Then Terry stole the show as he came close to beating the all time record held by Dan Atherton, incredible strength and endurance (we later found out Terry is in the Marines). The the leg burning calf raises were next, followed by press ups. With the tests complete and paperwork handed in for Alan to crunch the data that was the day done.

From my perspective it was great to see Alan in action up close and to get his input on my own training. It’s easy to see how his approach and the strengths and opportunities he identifies give the racers he works with the edge come race day. To have Alan’s insight and the level of feedback he provides on an ongoing basis will undoubtedly make you faster on the bike. Having it for the day gave me a great personal insight into where I can make some gains and some big improvements going forward.

Those of you that have been on a Mountain Bike Skills Course with me will know that the ‘Fitness’, ‘Skills’ and ‘Nutrition’ Triangle enables riders to work with professionals on each of the elements that come together to build the perfect rider. Alan’s insight into the ‘Fitness’ point is clearly invaluable and it was great to see the gains he identified and the way in which he works with an athlete to realise those gains.

Chris and Tom came away feeling highly motivated to get over the winter hump and into the new season fitter and faster than ever. All three of us got a lot from the day and would highly recommend it to anyone thinking about booking up.

Keep an eye on MX Fitness for Alan’s dates in the New Year and if you’re looking to compliment your fitness with some MTB Skills Training check out the range of Firecrest Mountain Bike Skills Courses I offer on the Firecrest MTB Website www.firecrestmtb.com