Coed Y Brenin leads way with Adaptive MTBing course

by singletrackjon 12

In an ever greater number trail centres across the UK, provision is being made not just for the keen mountain bikers but also for kids, families – and in the most progressive centres – for people that have disabilities too. It’s not just about providing trails with a surface that’s wide and smooth, but in more and more cases, it’s about offering something that challenges and is an exciting experience to people who might otherwise be excluded.

The recently built MinoTaur trail in Coed Y Brenin, North Wales, is a fine example of this. The trail is wide enough for people using ‘adaptive mountain bikes‘, three or four wheeled bikes that are usually hand cranked, but the mix of swooping berms, rollers and fast sections make it massive fun to ride for anyone, whatever their age, experience or ability.

In order to give even more people the opportunity to experience what adaptive mountain biking can offer, the ‘Challenge your Boundaries’ adaptive mountain bike project decided to offer the first course tailored to giving mountain bike leaders the specific skills and information they’d need to take adaptive mountain bike riders out on these trails.

Here’s their report:

“The inaugural Leading Adaptive Mountain Bikers course took place over the weekend of 5-6th November at the Coed y Brenin Trail Centre in Southern Snowdonia. The course, hosted by the ‘Challenge your Boundaries’ adaptive mountain bike project, was developed by Cycling Projects, the people behind ‘Wheels for All’ adaptive cycling centres, and SnowBikers, who train mountain bike leaders. The unique nature of the course drew in mountain bike leaders from across Britain, with candidates travelling from as far as Scotland and Cornwall.

Having already bagged a lovely day, weather-wise, for the ‘Challenge your Boundaries’ launch a couple of weekends earlier, we considered ourselves pretty lucky to get another couple of bright crisp autumnal days to form a colourful back-drop to the weekends work. There were a number of different objectives to achieve with the LAMB course; firstly to raise the profile of adaptive cycling, secondly to give mountain bike leaders the confidence and background information to include adaptive riders within their groups, and thirdly to accredit leaders so that they can access the ‘Challenge your Boundaries’ bikes and equipment at Coed y Brenin.

adaptive mountain biking at Coed Y Brenin (2)
The MinoTaur is wide and smooth, but still offers speed, flow and thrills

With the normal clamour to unpack hand-outs and set up projectors, Day-1 got underway with a look at different ability groups and the implication of different impairments on cycling activities. The leaders had a look at the different types of bike available, and some of the further add-ons such as seat supports and pedal extensions that would help the rider get more from their cycling experience.

With some theory under their belts, the group moved on to what were some of the favourite sessions of the weekend: the bike try-outs. Cycling Projects had brought along a wide range of adaptive bikes, from side by side tandem hand-cycles, to low-slung recumbent pedal trikes, and the group were quick to try them all.

There was some discussion about who might benefit from the different bike types, and the riders took part in exercises to simulate the experiences of some perhaps unexpected users: riders with visual impairment. To the trail centre visitors unaware of the course, the sight of a number of blindfolded riders working their way around the car-park under verbal instruction must have raised some eye-brows.

adaptive mountain biking at Coed Y Brenin (4)
Trying to see things from another viewpoint...

Day-2 drew the focus in a little from adaptive cycling in general onto adaptive mountain biking in particular, and also the issues of leadership with riders of such bikes. With a few worked example, it quickly became clear that the planning and leadership strategies needed for adaptive riders were no different than for any other group, and the candidates set about working on gaining the background information that they would require.

First thing was to get to grips with some real adaptive mountain bikes, seek out the unfamiliar technology and new rider set-up regimes, and get to grips with common mechanical problems and potential short-comings. Next was to get out and ride the bikes on a skills course to pull together some basic coaching points.

Again the leaders found that, though the format of the bikes was different, their understanding of the principles of riding could still be applied. Finally the group set out on a short journey down the newly constructed MinorTaur trail (built wide enough for adaptive mountain bikes) to look at some of the issues of group management, such as the average speed of the different bike formats. The climax of the ride was the ‘Slipway’ descent, a series of 10 switch-backs in short succession. This put such big grins on riders faces, that they had to go back to the top and try it again!

All in all a great couple of days which was well received by the candidates and trainers alike. Well done everyone..

Comments (12)

  1. Fantastic news!19 months ago my other half suffered an horrific accident at woburn.broken back,head injury and destroyed vestibular system(ear balance).She has just started to get outdoors on foot,walking very slowly.She cant ride a bike(possibly never again,we wont know for sure until the rehab has had more time to work)
    Pre accident she lived for mountainbiking andd obviously she is totally devastated about the effect of the accident on her lifestyle.shes just got a recumbent trike,a kmx kart-google it-and finds it easier to ride than it is to walk. just imagine how exciting this news is to her,a life line back to the dirt she so wants to rail again.today she is one happy bunny and really looking forward to going back to coed y once again as soon as she is able to. Good on you guys for gettingthis trail and project up and running.

  2. Your post needs a like button hugealias.

    All the best to your other half in her battle.

  3. hugealias

    My neighbour lost the use of his legs in a motorbike accident twenty years ago. He mentioned he’d been to a trail centre in Wales recently for some do like this, so perhaps he was there at this one. He handcranks a recumbant on and off road and has a fair degree of knowledge about what is available. I’m pretty sure he’d be willing to dish out advice etc if you ever found you guys were interested in pursuing something like that…I’d have to ask him first of course!!!
    If you are interested post up on here and I’ll try and link up with you.

  4. This is brilliant, I’ve been keenly waiting to see when adaptive mtb would be given some attention. I noticed there were no 4-cross bikes (the gnarly 4 wheel full suspension bikes). It would also be great to see rentals available for these types of bikes.
    😀

  5. Great stuff, really good to see these kinds of trails being built

  6. If you’ve not ridden the Minotaur at CyB, don’t discount it either. It’s a great fun trail on any bike and there’s a series of huge, wide berms that are enormous fun. As it’s only 5km, I can heartily recommend it as a pre-coffee warm up before you try the bigger trails there. When we were there, they were already building the second extension to it too.

  7. Sounds ideal (as Chipps mentioned) as a get you back on the bike trail too. I had bowel surgery a few months ago and i doubt i could do many of the full blown Welsh trails! But something like this will be ideal to get back on it…..

  8. Someone I know had a motorbike accident and is now in a wheelchair. He started http://www.roughriderz.co.uk/

    They run taster days and uplifts at Whinlatter on proper 4-wheeled full-sussers.. the bikes are incredible! and fun for anyone not just disabled people

  9. billyboy
    Thanks for the offer of the hook up with your neighbour if hes up for it.Its early days yet but the positive vibes are flowing and shes just found the Roughriderz site.I get a feeling I know where her redudency money is going to get spent!.

  10. I agree with Chipps. The route is really fun on any bike, and is great for a couple of laps if you are waiting for people to get ready in the car park. Good to see a wider range of people are able to enjoy the trails aswell!

  11. Bike Art and the forestry Commission backed by Friends of Thetford forest have been providing bikes for handicapped people for over 6 years now,

  12. hugealias

    I’ve just fiddled with my profile (pardon the expression) and I think you will now find my email address there. If you mail me then I’ll hook up with you and sort out a cunning plan. My neighbour runs several three wheel hand cranked recumbants. He has a mate who is slightly more mobile who runs a similar rigg, and he knows the roughriderz so he’s fairly well versed in what is out there. I still haven’t got through on the phone to ask him yet but we often swap favours so I’m pretty sure he’d be ok with it, and I’m sure we can fix it so that the process is not to invasive of his time.

    Cheers
    Bill

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