“At UK Bike Skills we love it when our clients have an amazing coaching experience… here’s a few of our recent reviews”
– Tony Doyle
The honest reviews on this page are exactly as they were sent to us, we’ve not corrected spelling or grammar. See you on the trails…
Dan’s Jedi Training Pt 1:
I reckon there are a lot of riders out there like me. Pretty good on the trail but sketchy at jumps because I never really nailed the technique. That’s why I went to see Tony.
I don’t want to be a dirt jumper. But on trail-centre and uplift days I want to be able to ride the whole track to get the maximum buzz out of it. And make the most of my local trails by hitting jumps I’d normally ride around.
It’s easy to talk yourself out of hitting a jump. The best thing I learned was how to talk myself into it.
Tony’s pretty quick to spot what you need as a rider. After fixing a few bad habits, it’s all about building confidence. He shows you a simple jump technique. When you’ve got this dialed, the only thing holding you back is your own fear. Tony helps with this too by giving you a mental checklist to approach a jump.
For me, unlocking the mental side of it was the key. Jumping feels easy when you do it right, but you can only get there if you’re 100% committed. Once you have the confidence to go full commitment it all falls into place, then it gets easier to take stuff on.
You can’t buy Jedi skills in a day, you gotta earn them too.
I have another session booked in with Tony, but I’m trying to get the basic skills dialed in before I go back.
One thing about Tony’s jumps is they are built to perfection and you don’t have to pop the smaller ones all that much to clean them. I knew I wasn’t giving it enough pop to get the hang time needed to clean big gaps and that’s what I need to sort out on my local jumps.
Another thing I’ve learned is there’s a big difference between senders and kickers and it’s taking me a while to get the pop working on both. On jumps that kick your back wheel up, you have to pop it enough to get your front wheel up first, otherwise you’re stuck in a world of endo pain.
I can’t speak highly enough of Tony’s coaching, and I can’t wait until the next session…
Thetford Winter Series IV – Race Report:
On Saturday Oly, Gordon, Shane and I went to see Tony Doyle of UKBikeSkills.co.uk for some lessons on how to ride bikes off road properly. At the back of my mind was Sunday’s race and so I wanted to try and conserve some energy. However, after a while I realised that what we were doing was more important than a single race. What we were learning was going to be useful for all of our races and all of our MTB riding in general from that point onwards. So the bottom line for Sunday was that despite my best efforts I started the race with a half empty tank.
(nb the first sentence needs to be read in one breath, absolutely as fast as possible).
I started quite far back in the bunch because I wasn’t gridded but I managed to carve through the group roadie style to somewhere near the front before the first singletrack section then I got on the wheels of some really fast guys who were absolutely hammering it through the bends and up the slopes and along the fire roads I was able to hang with them on the twisty stuff thanks to my new found bike skills – at one point I went so fast that the guy behind me fell off trying to keep up with me (I immediately thought how pleased Tony would be to know this) after two and a half laps I grew in confidence still and got a gap on the fast guys I was with and so I descended solo down a mostly straight and gently bending path only to find that ..
You know, sometimes the tree gremlins can work their mischief on you in Thetford forest. Sometimes they move the damn things around when you’re not looking and I swear that happened to me today.
So I think my top half wanted to go around the right side of the tree and my bottom half wanted to go around the left. The result was that I came to stop against the trunk and comically slid to the floor whilst still wrapped around it. It was a poorly executed rugby tackle on an immovable object, for which I’m grateful not to have broken anything. I was on the bike again in seconds but it affected my mojo for a while. I managed to recatch the fast guys again but it was all for nothing. The reason I had crashed was because I lost concentration. The reason I had lost concentration was because I was tired. The last lap was spent moving slowly, very slowly.
I found myself sitting on the wheels of riders that I had lapped for 30 minutes. You know how an octupus has one brain for each of it’s eight legs? Well I had that kind of thing going on for each of my limbs, only the octupus was drunk. I finished and rode straight to the burger van for a bacon and egg bap. It felt good as I pushed the food into my face, the yolk bursting and running down my arm. All washed down with a hot chocolate for dessert.
It’s been a great weekend for mountain biking. If I can get to a race fresh and make my new bike skills second nature I’ll be laughing.
I thought I’d let you know how I got on, on my first ride after our training session.
Yesterday MBSwindon had a ride around the Stroud area with lots of very muddy singletrack, bomb-holes drops etc. At the first bomb-hole I used the four questions you taught me to decide that I wasn’t going to attempt it and to be comfortable with my decision (I wasn’t confident and I had 12 folks at the bottom offering advice). As the ride progressed, and I relaxed into the conditions,I found myself jumping small drops, compressing the bike over ledges and applying your cornering technique.
Later in the ride we encountered a very steep drop. I looked at it and my first thoughts were I’ll find a way around, but then I asked myself those questions again. Got three yes’ and went for it. I compressed the bike over the ledge as you taught me rode the descent cleanly (without my arse over the back wheel). Much to the amazement of the other riders on the ride. I would never have attempted this without your training and I never once felt out of control. I repeated this at the next three drops with the same results 🙂
At the end of the ride I had two riders tell me (unprompted) how much I had improved as a rider. I put this down to your training. Thank you!
All the best!
Craig’s Coaching Session:
There’s a phrase that people often use that goes along the lines of “those that can do do, those that can’t teach”. However, this is definitely not the case with Tony! Not only is he an accomplished rider, but he can also teach! During my session, I found Tony to be enthusiastic and passionate about not only riding, but also about helping me improve my own riding. He was analytical and evaluative when breaking my riding down to its component parts. Not only that, I found the whole experience to be fun and interactive. Tony’s coaching style is very calm making the whole experience very chilled out; he achieved the right balance of pushing my riding to new limits and at the same time not beyond my level of confidence, or capability. What’s even more impressive is the fact that he develops your mental skill set so you are able to make the call as to what you will and won’t try. Therefore, you progress quickly, but in a safe way. So, what form does the day take?
I arrived at 10.00 and we started by sitting down and having a coffee. It was a cold day so the chiminea was also fired up – needed! During this time, we discussed what I hoped to get out of the session. This allowed Tony to personalise the coaching session to suit my needs and to gauge my strengths and weaknesses. It was also useful doing this because it got me into the right mind set.
The next stage was to look at my riding setup. First, Tony adjusted my suspension settings. After a few adjustments, that literally took a minute, the way my bike rode was completely transformed; I’m sure it made learning easier. Tony then altered the way the break levers were angled. This may seem like a minor change, but it totally alters your body position and seems to centre you more on the bike by altering your position so that you feel more stable and controlled. My break levers are now in more of a horizontal position which flies in the face of conventional set up methods. However, it works! Some would question this, let them, they’re missing a trick! A lot of what Tony teaches goes against conventional advice, but that’s a good thing because what you realise is that a lot of other people’s home grown wisdom is wrong.
After this, we moved on to drops and jumps. After a few demonstrations, of how to do drops I tried it myself and was blown away by how much easier they felt. I’d done drops before, but now they just felt different – more controlled and more stable landings. We then moved on to the table top and the gap jump at the side of it. I’d always struggled with gaining height and distance on jumps at slow speeds. However, having had the mechanics of jumping explained and being given clear instructions on where the push point is on transitions it made jumping at fast and slower speeds so much easier. What was great about this was that Tony communicated this in a variety of different ways from demonstrating it to explaining the physics that are involved. Anyway, the penny dropped and I was jumping with more confidence than ever before. I was also finding it a lot easier to move the bike in the air, something I had not been able to do since I was a kid.
Then, we moved on to linking berms into a fade out jump; this allowed me to apply my new jumping skills to a different situation. Up until this point, I’d always struggled with steep transitions like the ones found at Bike Park Wales. However, with my new skill set, I found it a lot easier managing the steep transition. However, whilst riding the berms, Tony spotted an area for development in my cornering. He then took me through a series of different techniques and exercises that helped me improve this aspect of my riding. As a result, I’m now riding berms better than I have ever done before. At this point, I was beginning to tire because not only is the coaching physically tiring, it’s also mentally draining because you are taking on so much new information. Therefore, Tony suggested we break for lunch and a coffee. A good call because I was in need of a break.
After lunch, we moved on to working on jumps again. This time it was a nine foot gap jump sandwiched between two berms. I was surprised at how easy this felt with my new found technique. I was amazed at how much slower I could hit the jump, but still clear the gap! Again, the explanation of how to manage the different sections of the features were clear and concise enabling me to develop my confidence levels. Next, we moved on to the pump and jump trail to work on pumping the trail.
Up until this point, I’d always found it hard to effectively pump the trail to gain free speed. Likewise, I’d not understood the close relationship between pumping and jumping. During this part of the session, I learned the most such as how to better soak up bumps and transitions and how to pump transitions on the up slope as well as the down slope. Again, I was blown away by the impact this had on my ability to carry speed which had a major impact when hitting multiple jumps because with the advice I was given I was able to carry more speed in order to clear the next kicker. The result of the improved pumping skills Tony taught me was that I was then able to clear three ladder gap jumps in close succession. If you’d have told me I would be clearing these at the beginning of the session I would have laughed, but to my surprise I did. However, at this point I was really tired mentally and physically after four hours of riding and concentration. Tony pointed this out as I was beginning to make forced errors. However, there was one trail feature that I wanted to nail – a 12 foot gap jump.
Therefore, I asked Tony if I could try it before I called the session to a close. Again Tony worked on my mental skill set and demonstrated how to gauge the speed to clear the gap. After a few practice run-ins I was able to clear the gap so much easier than I had ever anticipated. I then went on to clear it successfully another two times before calling it a day. At this point, I was totally blown away. So, was my one to one coaching session worth the money?
The answer! Hell, yes! I learned loads, had an amazing day, progressed more than I thought was possible in a four hour period and had a good laugh in the process. Some people reading this are probably thinking it’s a lot of money to pay for a day’s coaching, but the bottom line is that you get what you pay for. It’s money well spent and I’m sure there are people who are cheaper, but I wouldn’t have got the same experience and in the light of the fact that you can spend hundreds of pounds upgrading components in the hope that it will improve your riding this is by far the best investment. I’d definitely recommend a coaching session with UK Bike Skills because it’s the best bike related upgrade I’ve bought.
Jumps & Drops for Dave
Even though Tony’s coached me before, I still came away amazed by what he does and how he goes about it. The disconnecting thing he did and teaching something different to what you were originally doing, putting it all together and then going back to the original bit was genius. I didn’t even realise what was being done until it all just came together.
I know it’s been said before but this is coaching on a completely different level to anything else and in any other discipline I’ve experienced.
Oh.. and Tony’s a top bloke too, the day was so relaxed and was great to spend time in your company again and catch up.
Chris & Ellen
Just a reflection on yesterday’s session. Ellen and I have had a great summer; Ellen raced her topper at Mengham junior week, we raced our buzz at federation week beating Atlanta Olympian and multiple national champ Steve Cockerel, and Olympic coaches Liz and mark Rushal, had a week of hammering our bikes in North Wales, but.. The 4.5 hours we spent with you in your field was by far the highlight. Weird eh? Ellen has been coached for 2 years on the track by some really decent BC coaches which she has really enjoyed but both she and I have felt a bit restrictive in that environment, a bit of a round peg in a square hole. Ellen said she felt enlightened after yesterday and I don’t think she meant only the riding technique. The plan is to get out and spend time really sorting the techniques you showed us starting small and slow and building up which could take a year or so until it can all be employed on something that we can probably get down now, but ride smoothly fluid and with some style. We discussed on the way home how we would apply it to stuff we’ve ridden previously and whether we can apply these techniques to all scenarios, so I’m sure you will hear from one of us asking for clarification. One of Ellen’s great qualities is the ability to commit fully – attached is a pic of her lead climbing aged 7, or perhaps I’m a slightly irresponsible dad. Ellen would also like to come and live in your field if that’s ok!
All the best and we will keep in touch
First of all mate massive thanks for the tuition day at the center and great to meet you, I had found that my mountain biking had turned over complicated based on hearsay and reading to much rubbish and also taking advice from other people that perhaps had a sales type motive,I had truly lost what is most important while out on the bike just plain enjoyment of the trails !!!
Well my friend you were a breath of fresh air stripping it all back to basics and now the fun is back with a vengeance, and working with the skill-set you gave me I see everything so differently lumps and bumps have now become pump opportunities, cornering speed through berms has now increased and no longer live in fear of the slippery off camber stuff, and jumps!! well I’ll be back to you to sort that one out 🙂 but all in all a great improvement in general trail riding , Again mate many thanks for the time at UK Bikeskills it really was a great day and I’m now enjoying the trails how they should be enjoyed as just plain FUN
Cheers mate and speak soon
You’ll remember my wife Becca and I came over for me to have a session with you at the end of January. Well, I just wanted to let you know that it paid dividends in the 6 day stage race I was training for. Some immense technical and rocky downhills where I was far more confident… and even cornering at 30+ mph on road switchbacks felt more smooth and relaxed… it all came together thanks to me learning how to weight the bike properly through corners. So, 6 days of stage racing, 30000ft of climbing/descending, and not one crash….and I kept up with my team-mate who was previous a south-west DH champ. We finished 15th in our age category, far higher than either of us had hoped for.
So cheers again, I really rate the day we spent as improving my riding all round 🙂
Have a good spring – looks like the woodwork is drying nicely!
I hope you are enjoying your weekend? I wanted to give you feedback as promised after the course and the reality is I dont need to goto Glentress to know the difference. I went on my local fitness loop yesterday and found the ride pretty easy as usual but found myself venturing from the normal route looking for challenges. In the wooded sections that I have ridden literally hundreds of times I was looking far ahead down the trail and it actually felt like a different ride. Nothing scientific but I felt I was carrying more speed. Today though I went to Hamsterly and did the 11.5 mile red loop and attacked it with vigour. My riding companion said I was like a burnt rabbit and I blasted the downhill sections and attacked the jumps with glee. I have never been able to keep up with him, he could not live with me today.
My foot positioning needs work, often found myself with level cranks in a turn, and once realised mid berm, adjusted and had a ‘moment’, but the looking ahead, popping off trail obstacles and general confidence were miles ahead. I looked at the table top I told you about and thought, pah-easy, however did not do it as I was tired and perhaps a little full of bravado but I suspect soon it will be ticked off…
Thankyou so much for your assistance, you really have made a difference to my riding…
Pickled Hedgehog 2
Original Here: http://pickled-hedgehog.com/?p=3216
As a blokey bloke – unreconstructed or not – there’s a certain amount of sacramental reverence around skills and abilities way beyond castigation. Lines over which even banter ‘shall not pass’. Clickbait lists are generally required at times like this, so let’s start with: driving, sexual performance, quaffage coefficient and being able to ride a bicycle.
It’s an interesting list because we are taught to drive, sex is something we learn through experimentation or repetition, alcohol poisoning about the same but remaining upright whilst mostly in charge of a bicycle draws a straight line between skinned knees and useful manifestations of centrifugal physics.
Which, when you consider the importance of grasping the basics, and a bit more when accelerating through hard edged geography, feels like an educational oversight. But being chromosomically doubled*, we’re not interested in making the best use of our tiny talent when going harder, going faster**, going to be braver, going to end up hospital is somehow more highly rated on the achievement scale.
Over four years ago, I had a riding reboot which rocked my little mountain biking world, right up until the point I forgot almost everything. Since then I’ve mostly survived, dodged the occasional bullet while more frequently adding to my extensive legions of scar tissue. I’ve ridden too many crap lines, watched too many expert videos and read too much nonsense on the web.
So now my approach to any kind of riding difficulty is a multi-tasking mashup of many techniques, none of which I can reasonably execute. There’s so much going on in my head, the obstacle has long passed before any mitigation plan has been enacted. Result of which is mostly me viewing that trail difficultly upside down and long separated from my blameless bicycle.
Twice in the week before a return to the skills shrine of Tony, I’d crashed hard and painfully on dry trails with limitless grip. Bring on the winter and my riding gear would probably be a body-bag unless something changes quickly. An adverb that’s pretty much exited stage left from my riding world, with people I used to easily chase only becoming visible waiting at the end of the trail.
Time to man down and accept scratching my riding itch isn’t going to make it any better.
Tony’s upgraded his training facilities quite a bit since my last time in his care. Now he’s snaked trails between the frankly terrifying North Shore planks elevated halfway to the moon, with lines of jumps angled to propel you there. He’s paired back his coaching as well to about three physical moves and four mental ones. The coffee remains both strong and most welcome after more than a three hour drive.
I like Tony. He’s got a interesting view on life , and lives it like an amped Hippie with no off switch. I may not always agree with him, but any conversations are anything but dull whether it be bikes or absolutely anything else. And from a coaching perspective, he is a bloody genius.
Two minutes in, he’s nailed my inability to commit to left hand turns (large scar on knee to be taken into consideration), Hadyn’s slightly odd body positioning and Rob’s rearward stance. And that’s just riding round a couple of logs. Soon we’re lobbing ourselves off little drops, and giggling through elbow low carved turns. After that it’s berms, singletrack, drops, tabletops and gaps jumps.
All of which we dispatched. Six foot gap jumps with hardly any effort. Corners railed like you’ve failed to match on a million MTB videos. Berms accelerated out of and drops nailed without the excessive body movement and bar wrenching that passes as a big part of my MTB repertoire.
I even re-learned how to bunny-hop. Hadyn launched a 12 foot gap jump, and Tony turned Rob from an XC scardycat into a gap jumping monster. And that’s all you’re getting in terms of the process because unless you go through it, describing words are merely going to confuse.
What’s more important is can you translate a single days epiphany into a trail vocabulary writing extra speed, more smoothness, some safety into your every day riding?. That’s a firm yes and a more than occasional no, Once cut free from the cord of what feels right, you can practice, embed muscle memory and even switch back to flats but when things get scary, the inevitable happens.
You regress. You seek solace in the habits that somehow kept you safe when the going got tough. And these are bad habits, dangerous ones, dropping a shoulder to the inside, moving your head back from the scary, forgetting your feet have a part to play riding downhill. The difference is you know it’s wrong, it feels horrible and forced, slow and difficult, desperate and daunting. So you back off a little to try and fix it. With some but not unlimited success.
So is a day’s course going to turn you into some kind of riding deity? Well, no clearly because there’s only so much skill than can be squeezed from very little talent. A better question is does it provide a simple set of physical and mental techniques that – when combined – have you riding old trails in an entirely new way. Yeah, pretty much.
There’s a tiny five foot gap on a trail we ride almost every week. And I avoided it for two years on the reasonable grounds of it having not much ground between entry and exit. Three days after spending one with Tony, Rob and I sailed over it without a care. We avoided the ten and fifteen foot gaps further up the trail but you have to start somewhere. And – in my case – work down.
It was a fantastic day with Tony. Rebooted my Mojo, Gave me a go-to place for doing to the right thing. Reinforced the delusion that I can keep getting better. Provided the confidence to ditch my SPD’s and let the flat-earthed fella out. Made me smile, grin, giggle and laugh remembering how bloody lucky we are to ride mountain bikes.
For that alone, it was more than worth the money. And I’ll be back because backsliding is pretty much my modus operandi. I won’t be leaving it as long this time.