WOW!! Free coaching they said, at Flyup 417 bike park, with Helen Gaskell and Katy Curd they said… pfft! Amazing opportunity for 24 lucky ladies, never will I get a place, I thought but went ahead and registered anyway. A few months later having a bit of a crappy week and totally forgetting that I had even applied, I woke up to the best email of the year from Specialized UK ‘YOU WERE ONE OF THE LUCKY NUMBERS!’ I was over the moon and this definitely sorted out my mood, I couldn’t believe it. Katy an Helen, two ladies who have had such an influence on my mountain biking journey as I followed them on social media and I would actually be receiving coaching from them. This was set to be a game changer for me, time to go all out and make the most of this experience. I was raring to go!
The day came, kit ready and to say excited was an understatement. Heading over to Gloucester for the early 8.30am start I suddenly felt a little nervous, this would be the first time actually riding bikes with a group of ladies. Normally the token female of the group trying to prove yourself to the lads, this suddenly felt a little bit daunting. Pulling up in the car park a little later than the others I instantly knew it was gonna be a good day. The largest group of females on mountain bikes I had ever seen, brightly coloured kit, amazing bikes all looking bad ass and just as excited to hit the trails as I was.
Checking in with the Specialized guys, a few safety notes and some quick introductions, we were quickly split into groups according to ability and ready to get down to business with Katy and Helen. There were three work shops covering pump track, bike maintence and on trails skills coaching . The afternoon would be free to blast the trails, checking out what we learnt with the coaches who were on hand.
The weather was in our side too, the sun was shining and trails dusty, we couldn’t have asked for a better day. First up I had on-trails skills coaching with Katy, we were a small group of six riders all of intermediate ability. We got to learn about cornering, hitting the berms and drops with the right body position, weight distribution, line choice and even just the smaller things like gripping better and one finger breaking. After 20mins, I could already see a difference in the ride. Katy was an amazing coach, lots of 1-2-1 advice and really picked up on each of our styles giving dedicated pointers. Personally I was bit star struck but she quickly made us all feel comfortable on the trails, polishing up on our skills and being able to actually enjoy the trails rather than just be glad to get to the bottom in one piece.
After a great time sessioning bits of the blue, gaining confidence we were ready to get out and smash the trails but instead we headed over to bike maintenance for the boring bit lol. Pleasantly surprised by how in depth this was though, I was so happy to be learning so much and enjoying it! We had so many questions, from indexing gears to servicing forks and bleeding brakes . We got all the answers without being made to feel stupid which for me was a first. Definitely way better than cluelessly watching youtube videos over and over.
One more stop before lunch, it was our turn to get into a pump track session with Helen. This indoor track is amazing, not like any other pump track I’ve been to. Winding round in three loops, its mega flowy, with a few berms. Helens advice was a game changer. You can really pick up some speed here, I made it round on the second go without pedalling which was a first for me. The coaching was top notch with a bit of an information overload, but it really was making a difference to the way I held myself on the bike and couldn’t wait to get out and use these new skills on the reds.
It was the perfect weekend, sun shining, blue skies and dusty trails waiting for us. It was time to put what we learned into practise and get on up to the trail head. Everyone raced for the uplift truck eager to get stuck in. At the trail head we took in the amazing views before heading off where we all felt comfortable. Looking for advice on the reds, myself and four other girls were lucky enough to get some intense coaching from Katy and Helen on the way down the first full run, stopping to session some of tricky features. My confidence was soaring and I was loving it. Coming down at speed I was flying through the berms, doing the drops and jumps, in my professional opinion… like a pro. Getting a bit too big for my boots I lost it at the last jump. The day wouldn’t be complete without a good old fashioned fail. After getting a handle bar to the throat I stood up still smiling, nothing more inspiring than Katy Curd coming hurtling down the trail taking the jump over your head. I was instantly ready to give it another go!
I had to get straight back on it as I didn’t want the fall to do damage to the progress I had made and so I headed back up the hill, coming down grinning ear to ear, loving it! The red really pushed me out of my comfort zone, being just as flowy as the blue but incorporating lots of drops, jumps and features. The tight turn with a steep drop and loose gravel was a game changer. Feeling accomplished and on top of the world I ended the day giving the Specialized full suspension a quick go down the blue, so much fun and soooo tempted but the bank account wasn’t so keen lol. You did your best guys but the trail beer will have to do me for now, maybe next year!
The coaching day as a whole was a huge success, I feel that I came away a better rider and met some awesome women. I will be buzzing off this day for a long time, a huge thank you goes to Katy, Helen and the Specialized team. Especially Andrew Richardson for the awesome photos, absolutely love the photo of me!! Sums up the weekend, no words needed, the usual stupid grin says it all… that feeling #Priceless
It was so good I went back the next day for round 2 – Click the link to check out my review of the Flyup 417 Bike Park Get yourself down there if you can, guaranteed smiles from top to bottom!!