Category Archives: motivation

Chasing Trails has a sponsored rider

James Deane is the first rider to be sponsored by Chasing Trails

It occurred to me recently that this would be a good thing to do…

Obviously it gets the word around that skills coaching is effective! It has to actually work for there to be any appeal..!

Many people just hope for the best, but everyone who’s had some coaching with Chasing Trails has been surprised with the progress achieved. One thing I’m always surprised by is the number of racers who avoid learning skills that could be the difference between a crash & a personal best.

James booked a 1:1 day in 2011 & we covered a fair amount in the day, so much so that he was inspired to tweet this:

Since then James started racing & replied to a facebook post/tweet asking if anyone was interested in being sponsored in the form of skills coaching. I knew he was serious about the racing; despite living down south I’ve often seen him ride past on the trails at Dalby while I’ve been teaching. Having gained a lot from the skills session way back, James was keen to build on it & refine things as well as refresh in case any bad habits had crept back in.

There’ll be another report from James shortly on his recent session, but enough from me. Here’s James’ thoughts on the initial day in 2011:

When I first started to get really serious about mountain biking, my adventures took me out into the wilds of the Suffolk countryside. A part of the UK that doesn’t boast epic hills, radical descents or even a remotely gnarly drop-off… But at the time, it really was all I knew about riding cross country and embarrassing as it to admit it, I did fall off quite a few times.

With time I grew more confident and started to venture further afield. First to Thetford Forest, then Cannock Chase and eventually over the border into Wales and to the Grand Daddy of them all, Coed y Brenin.

CyB was a total culture shock for someone who had spent their cycling life in the East Anglian flat lands. I probably walked/slid/fell down most of the descents and came home with more cuts and bruises than I’d have sustained in a round with Tyson in the ring.

I’d read about skills courses in magazines, riding buddies spoke about them in hushed tones but never admitted to having even considered them. Bravado is big in cycling and to admit you have a weakness will mark you out as less of a hard man (Just go on a bike forum and post on there that you are scared of descents and you’ll see what I mean!).

After considering the options – broken collarbone vs reputation in tatters with the biking hard men, I chose the latter and booked myself on a skills course with Chasing Trails. There are plenty of skills coaches in the country that you can choose from. Some are quite eccentric, others are quiet and unassuming. I chose on reputation rather than marketing.

Steve from Chasing Trails initially spent some time riding with me on the trails at Dalby, analysing my riding style and quietly building a list of things that we needed to concentrate on; riding position, how I moved my body weight in corners or in drops. These are things that you wouldn’t really think about until someone actually points them out to you.

With the bad habits ironed out, the next focus is on learning solid technique, understanding why it works and getting the skills into body memory. Body memory allows you to do the right thing before you have to think about it!

Like driving lessons, a skills course will not instantly make you into the greatest rider that ever lived. You still need to practice and develop your riding over time. But from a course you will come away with added confidence, knowledge and a better understanding of how to handle your bike and yourself when negotiating technical terrain.

Following the skills course I went back to Coed y Brenin and this time I had both the technical knowledge and the confidence to make it down all the descents on two wheels!


Chasing Trails is small (just me, Steve) and so there will only be space for 1 more sponsored rider. In the interests of balance this will be a female racer. If you race XC, Endurance or Enduro & you know your riding will improve with some skills work, get in touch!

Get out & ride!

get out and rideAlways good to start with a bit of a cliché in the title…

I should point out you can click the image on the left if you want to buy the picture & have a constant reminder that your bike is crying out to be used! It happened to be one of the 1st ones on Google & I quite liked it

The idea for this post came from a comment on a ride about lack of motivation to ride when routes have a lot of tarmac. I guess each rider has their stuff that discourages them, even though once you’re out it’s usually great. Some thoughts below – maybe obvious but if they help, great

Whilst the ‘just do it!’ attitude might not always do it, it’s a starting point. On it’s own it doesn’t always lead anywhere though, so a plan is generally needed

Barriers to getting out & riding are many & varied; time, weather, distance to the good trails, lack of fitness or skills, family, work etc etc

It seems we’re possibly a bit conditioned to focus on negatives and they can sometimes cloud the positives. So it helps if you can put a positive to each negative. E.g. if time and/or fitness is a problem & you normally drive to work, the positive could be a switch to commuting by bike. It may or may not be off road, but next time you get out for a ‘proper’ ride you’ll notice the difference & it only adds to your day the time taken minus what the car journey would take anyway

biking matesDo you have a positive that would outweigh all the negative stuff, but isn’t happening at the moment? So you might love riding with a group but you don’t know that many other riders. Try starting a facebook page or similar to connect riders in your area. That can make an average route more fun & committing to rides helps you get out more often

Or you might like to ride alone most of the time but you sometimes need a kick to get you out the door. Sign up for a race or charity event that you’ll need a bit more fitness to complete. Make it achievable & you’ve now got a reason to stick some training dates in the diary. Filing a thought away until ‘later’ or ‘tomorrow’ is a good way never to get round to it! But with an aim, it’s much more likely you’ll plan how to achieve it

biking matesBack to the original thought about routes with lots of tarmac… When I’m running skills days I often ride from Scarborough into Dalby along the country lanes. Some days I enjoy the commute more than others & the Five doesn’t really like the tarmac! But what I love about it is the time to be quiet & take in the scenery, which is one of the things you don’t get to do off road at speed with trees/rocks everywhere… Also I do like the really steep tarmac downhills where it’s fine on the MTB to go as fast as you can pedal – discs & fat tyres let you actually stop for that hairpin!

If you’re like me, variety is quite important, although I sometimes forget this. But just doing some riding that’s out of the usual routine can be great. Next on my list is to get some use out of the bivvy bag. So for a couple of days it’ll be time to fill the pack with energy food & ride out to somewhere really remote. Camp overnight, possibly in extreme discomfort(!) then ride back the next day. Just booking that in the diary now!

But for me the main thing is just to remember that when I get on a bike I’m never bored…

Anyway, that’s my quite random & incomplete selection of thoughts on motivation. Feel free to add your thoughts to the comments section