There is this perception that running a mountain biking and coaching company means you are always out on your bike riding awesome trails in some location with amazing people. Certainly the amazing people part is true and when you are guiding the riding is amazing on the best trails an area has to offer and similarly with coaching, when you see riders progress throughout the course and leave at the end of the day with new skills it is just the best feeling which can’t be beaten.
In order to have these special days there is an awful lot of hard work that happens to deliver our guests the perfect experience.
To deliver a year of guided adventures takes many hours of studying maps, reviewing digital imagery and of course riding the new routes. You can look at as many maps and pictures as you like but until my tyres touches the dirt and I can experience the route I won’t know if it delivers what is needed.
Many miles are ridden in the UK winters often in fairly bad weather to ensure the routes we choose are the ones we would love to ride if we were on a mountain biking holiday. But don't get me wrong I am not moaning here, I am simply saying that it’s not always like people imagine - dusty trails, sunshine, smiles and beer!!
When I have ridden a trail for the first time and I have a smile like a Cheshire Cat across my face then I know right there that it will form part of an epic day or weekend on the bike for someone. To hear the excited voices, see the smiles and the high fives after a long day on the trails means I have done a good job and nailed it.
It’s the same when I am coaching. You spend time planning the session, looking at and test riding the area to make sure it is suitable for what the course needs to deliver. I feel that any coaching not only needs to teach riders something, whether that is a new technique or to give them confidence but it has to be fun! After all we all love to ride our bikes at the end of the day.
The planning for the following year starts mid summer for us at WeRide. Searching for new locations and new trails, forging new partnerships and looking for the next big adventure.
This culminates with November and December being the time to organise dates, make sure there are no conflicts, arrange accommodation, update the website and pray for great weather.
Then its time for some R&R at WeRide with Christmas spent with family and time to get some rides in with friends, who I quite often only get to ride with in the winter months so we always make the most of the time riding together.
Early in the year means its time for snowboarding (our other great pleasure) especially Claire who loves being in the snow covered mountains with her board. Even on holiday WeRide never close and I am often seen replying to clients via email sat on a lift in -10C about their summer holidays praying I don't drop my phone into the powder below.
In the build up the the summer season its paperwork time. Risk assessments, route checking, menu preparation and confirming accommodation. This means is getting close to riding time for us and thoughts turn to the long sections of singletrack we rode last year and how they will be with the warm sun on our back, the sound of bikes skipping off rocks and roots and the sound of laughter and chatter from the guests.
Often on a ride, I will step away from the guests and just take it all in. The views, the trails and the weather. Yes these are all so important but what makes it for me as WeRide is seeing the guests totally absorbed in the riding they are doing, in the moment. Not thinking about their work or whats happening at home - and I stand there at work, in my home, on the trails the happiest man alive.
So its now October and the nights are dark which means local night rides and the build up of the next years planning, looking for the new places to ride, the new trails to explore and of course the cold hands and feet from winter riding in the UK.