Photos by Nick Bentley from Man Down MediaWords: BDS Academy
The BDS Academy returned to one Giant Leap Llangollen to deliver a girls-only training camp aimed at the up and coming female riders aged between 9 and 17 years of age. Kickstarted after the announcement from British Cycling earlier this year that the U.K were only fielding one female rider at the 2019 UCI World Championships at Mont Sainte Anne. We wanted to address that issue for future years by starting now and starting them young! We, therefore, put on another training camp giving the riders all the knowledge and wisdom from some of the industries finest.
Significant costs are involved in putting on such a weekend with the likes of land hire, uplift, timing, medics, media and industry gurus attending. We also wanted to offer this free to the girls, taking away the financial burden, encouraging as many young female riders as possible to attend. To do this we reached out to a number of our industry friends and family to 'sponsor' the academy. Very kindly Cannondale, DMR Bikes, GT Bicycles, Lapierre, King Sunglass and Malverns Classic all chipped in to cover the costs so many thanks to them for digging deep and getting behind the cause. Thank you.
Introductions took place on Saturday morning in the newly built pit area with hard standing gravel car park and shelter with a log burner and piles of dry wood to burn, toasty! Bikes were set up on turbo trainers or rollers and we went straight in with fitness coach, Yannis from Olympus Training
Yannis took the girls through the warm-up processes that one would typically expect to encounter at a race weekend; Saturday and Sunday mornings warm-up for practice and warm down as well as the ever-important warm-up just prior to your race run. Followed by a number of stretching and conditioning exercises to prepare the riders for the day's action.
Next up was social media updates and media training with Si Paton. Si shared his experiences on how best to build and engage with your audience, showcasing YouTube, Facebook and Instagram. As well as some practical Go-Pro top tips for filming yourself in action on the trails.
Perhaps the 'Jewel in the Crown' of the academy, Stendecs
Dave Garland looking at all things bike from a mechanics perspective. Dave has over 25 years of experience at World Cup Level, one of his many success stories would be that he was Danny Harts Mechanic for the Giant Factory Off-Road Racing Team at Champery in Switzerland for the 2011 UCi Downhill World Championships where Danny so famously took the win. Emilia Woods's father summed it up rather well, "Regards Dave’s input on setting up DH bikes alone. Having him advising on Emi’s Mondraker Summum is a bit like getting Lewis Hamilton’s top engineer to look at my Mercedes Vito van".
Dave was able to share his wisdom of bike set up with the BDS Academy attendees and more importantly their parents. Parents are in charge of bike set up and they were the ones that paid the most attention. Key points were the setting up of the front end, tyre pressures, suspension settings and the correct way to install a number board. Dave predicts that with the correct set up he can take at least one second off from every minute's worth of racing. On a three minute course that is over three seconds, huge! Everyone was also given a small folder with checklists as well as charts to log and monitor suspension settings.
After lunch, the girls were treated to a surprise visit from UK female downhill legend Fionn Griffiths, holder of over 57 World Cup DH podiums. Fionn lead the track walk starting with helpful hints and tips on start line procedures to get you into the right mindset prior to racing. Discussing everything from line choice through to predicting track erosion with breaking bumps, deepening ruts and exposed roots and rocks, she delivered the full package.
It wasn't all hard work! Saturday afternoon we gave the girls the afternoon to ride Llangollen, with uplift, medics, marshals and rolling (riding) marshals on track. The day finished off with a warm down set routine with Yannis followed by Dave Garlands 'Best Practice' on how to wash, lube, check, maintain and prepare your bike for race day tomorrow!
Sunday morning Wesley Spencer from Elite Dietician
educated us on what food and liquids we should as athletes be consuming prior, during and after the event. A thorough Q&A session followed with one of the hot topics being the use of energy drinks.
An interview technique presentation came next from Si Paton, aimed at installing confidence in the riders and helping them to deliver clear and concise answers. Other elements included interview Do's and Don't's showcasing rookie errors such as being interviewed with your helmet still on.
The Four 'C's of mountain biking (Rider Psychology) with Ian Warby from Firecrest MTB
. Ian is one of the UK's most experienced coaches with over 20 years behind him he came into his own especially when the girls asked him to help them with jumps and drops.
Adrian Walls, a highly ranked and experienced British Cycling and UCi Commissaire kindly offered up his services to go through some of the basic rules and regulations. Highlighting the most common rule infringements and the consequences such as receiving outside assistance during your race run, not rejoining the course where you left and ignoring red flags. The questions then came in quick and fast with such examples; As a rider do I automatically get a re-run if I catch the rider in front and what do I do if I get red-flagged mid-race?
To finish the weekend off, Malcom Dunn from Gravity Events UK
kindly donated his time and services to supply timing on Sunday afternoon. This allowed the girls to put down some solid runs using all the knowledge they had gained over the last two days, despite the weather conditions!
Special thanks to BDS team members; Tony, Steve and Olive Standish who as volunteers provided hot drinks, warm food as well as marshalling on the hill. As well as Martin Sands the landowner for kindly allowing us to use his land. If you want to ride at Llangollen, please note it is private land. Please visit their website for further details. One Giant Leap Llangollen
Some final words from the attendees.
‘’A really great experience for riders and parents, the combination of expert knowledge from the sessions along with the positive vibe from the girls learning, riding and socialising together was excellent". - Emilia Wood.
"The weekend was very informative and fun, it was great for like-minded girls to ride together and learn new skills". - Ellie Jones.
" I had a fantastic time riding and learning and most importantly having a great time meeting old friends and new. I think Dad also liked meeting his friends too. So Stoked for riding right now!!". - Anna Mackenzie.