Now thats different! 24/02/17

Had a really interesting start of a project with our good friend Dom Irvine. Many years ago we were probably some of the first mountain bike riders to explore what is now the Stainburn trail network area when we both lived in North Yorkshire. Dom is now a pretty accomplished rider and has completed many long distance events including the Race Across the Alps, Ultracycling Dolomitica (1st place) and London-Edinburgh-London to name a few.

He also holds the world record for the Land’s End to John O'Groats tandem cycle ride too. His next challenge is the Great Divide route in the USA and typically ‘Dom’ he is not going to just ride it he want to try and do it as fast as he can obviously! 


He is also a bit of a maverick thinker too and happy to challenge ‘ convention'. Most people ride the 2700 miles of the Great Divide on mountain bikes as it is primarily an ‘off road’ route however his thinking is if you’re doing that sort of distance for a record, wind resistance is key and his early experiments have proven his thinking right so far. So our challenge from a coaching point of view are to help him ride in his his ‘ aero’ riding position but still be to tackle some pretty demanding sections of trail. 

We have coached Dom before and so we know what we were working with we just needed to adapt and have an open view on what is actually achievable in this tucked in position. After a quick coffee and discussion about what we were going to do in Afan Lodge we got out in to the Skills Area in their grounds and got to it! Our main experimental bits of work were going to be how we can get him to unweight the front of the bike to manual, maintain good control of the front of the bike and remain confident with that road style geometry and your head over the front of the bike, completely opposite to how we normally develop good MTB skills!   

First off we looked at his riding position and how to apply the right technique to be able to unweight the front of the bike in to a manual. He had this dialed as we have coached him previously so he know what we were doing and soon he was effortlessly getting consistent manuals. 

It was obvious that the custom made bike from Paulus Quiros had perfect geometry for Dom and what he wanted to do. They have done a fantastic job on this bike which even has custom tubing. 

We progressed on to riding drops and with a bit of time we soon had him feeling really confident on our smaller drop line. 

While he is unlikely to encounter anything like the bigger drops we have we thought it would be a great confidence booster for him if he could do them. Using the mornings ‘mantra’ Exheel’ (exhale and drop the heels) The limits here were the bike and the Lauf forks as far as I was concerned however in all reality he was landing the drops so well that he was not even bottoming out the forks. 

Taking on the shot rocky section in the skills area have was the next challenge for the bike and Dom. Both handled it with ease.  

We then spent quite a bit of time going over the videos of the morning session before heading out on to sections of the Wall trail and some of the Forest roads around the trail to put the skills in to practice on real trails and tracks.

There is still plenty of work to do however it was a great start to the riding skills part of his training and we will have a couple of other sessions to do before he heads off to the states for the actual attempt.  Big ‘thanks’ to our hosts: Afan lodge food coffee and Skills Area and Natural Resources Wales for the use of their trails in Afan Forest Park South Wales. Check out a quick video of the day HERE


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