Cycle Active Trail Centre Day Courses Review – Single Track Skills and Jumps and Drops
I finally got round to doing a skills course in March this year. All my riding buddies seemed to be too “good” or too skint so I decided to do it on my own. I shopped around for a while to find one with the right location, dates, price, syllabus etc. and finally decided to go for the Cycle Active Trail Centre Day course at Forest of Dean. They aren’t the cheapest company but they seemed very professional and emphasise the small groups and quality of instruction. The Single Track Skills was exactly what I wanted and I thought I’d do the Jumps and Drops while I was there and try to expand my riding horizons.
There were 6 of us on the 1st day and it was a complete mix of abilities, which worried me a bit at the start. Actually the instructor, Rich, handled the mixed group amazingly well and I didn’t feel held back at any point by the less experienced (i.e. no experience) riders, or like I was holding anyone else back. We all introduced ourselves and did basic bike safety checks in the car park before heading out. Braking, cornering, wheelies, manuals and bunny hops were all covered. These are all “basic” skills but ones I’ve never put that much specific effort into practising. Having someone watch, correct and offer advice and tips, and I suppose actually spending a decent amount of time practising, really helped.
The two courses can be booked separately. Three of us stayed for Jumps and Drops and one guy arrived on the Sunday, so it was a group of 4. There was some repetition from the 1st day, the bike checks and some of the basic skills although the emphasis was quite different. The morning was spent learning how to tackle drops and then after lunch we hit the jumps. This was where the mixed group was a bit of a problem, especially with jumping being such a confidence reliant thing.
Cycle Active were really good, if slightly more expensive than other companies, very prompt with information and very professional. Rich the instructor was very good, helpful, professional and it was obvious he spent A LOT of time riding bikes. He confessed to us on the first day that he had only ever ridden in FoD once before, on the Friday before the course, having driven down from Carlisle at short notice to replace the usual instructor who had broken his wrist. Fortunately it didn’t show at all and he’d found suitable bits of trail for all the lessons.
Overall I think Single Track Skills was well worth the money and defiantly improved my riding. I need to spend more time practising, obviously. I think it could have been even better with a group of friends of similar ability, but would recommend it to anyone even on their own. Jumps and Drops was a bit repetitive for those of us who did both days and jumping isn’t necessarily something that can be taught. Certainly not to me! I probably wouldn’t recommend doing it as a second day to ST Skills, maybe on it’s own if you already like jumping.
Forest of Dean trail centre is a bit limited. The man made trail can easily be ridden in half an hour, it’s fun but not that technical. There’s a lot of unmarked trails, loads of jumps and a mini downhill course which is VERY popular with locals. You’d need patience to explore or a local guide to make a weekend of it. The cafe is OK.