I am the orange one and my brother is the pink one!
I organised some mountain bike vouchers from all the family for my brother's birthday July 2009. He still hadn't used them up to April 2010 which is just like my brother. As I was quite keen to enhance my somewhat basic off road skills I suggested I join him for the course and so we arranged a day.
The vouchers were for Mountain Bike Skills which operate out of Rivington, The Lake District and The Yorkshire Dales. As we live near Rivington it seemed the obvious location to go for but what was less obvious was the course to choose. Did we class ourselves as beginners or intermediates? A phone conversation with Mike Stafford from the school pointed us towards the beginners course and so one sunny day last month we found ourselves meeting up with Mike at the Rivington Great Barn car park for a briefing before 5-6 hrs of skill development.
The day was very, very good. Despite there being 6 advertised places on the course, Mike had actually scheduled the day to fit with us as short notice and so we were the only two attendees. We practised bunny hopping, low speed turns, how to cycle down a steep hill and back up a steep hill before breaking for lunch. In the afternoon we cycled up the big hill, practised descending some 70-100cm drop offs as well as riding some single track. My brother was certainly more able than I with the drops off (he is a mad keen skier) and so later I took the fast gravel track from the top while he and Mike took the more technical route before we all met up for a fast and very enjoyable downhill back to the car park.
I was happy with my performance and definitely learned a few things. I am certainly going to be getting off road when I can (more after the Pennine Cycleway ride) and may even go for an intermediate course next year. For the day I'd hired a Marin Rocky Ridge from Mike and loved it. It is obviously head and shoulders above my old Marin Bear Valley and so now I am on the lookout for a good second hand one. Just don't tell my wife I am getting another bike!