On Wednesdays, during Owen’s school holidays, Henry is at nursery, so I try to get a bike day with Owen. 417 Bikepark, on the edge of the Cotswolds, is our favourite place to go. We had this trip planned for a while and had planned to meet some friends from the Little Rippers MTB Facebook group, when it was announced that 417 would be running a “Little Senders Club” coaching session in the afternoon. I signed Owen up right away, as I thought he could benefit from some coaching. as he listens to coaches better than he listens to me. It also meant that I could get some solo laps in too!
Unfortunately, we failed at the first hurdle – the van had a flat battery and would not start (punishment for not having driven it for a while?), and the battery on my jumpstart pack was also flat. So we had to empty the van, empty Jen’s Yaris, disassemble my bike, move Owen’s seat to the passenger seat of the Yaris and cram all the bike kit into the back of the Yaris. Miraculously it all fitted! With all of the faffing, we were a few hours late getting to the bikepark but did still manage to get a few laps of the pumptrack before lunch and catching up with our friends.
The Little Senders Club seemed well organised and the coach, Laurence, seemed really nice, and we could tell that the kids would have a good time! It seemed like a laid back session, that was more about fun, than serious coaching, but I think Owen responds best to that sort of stealth coaching. With the boys off doing skids, Sam, one of the other dads, and I went off to do some laps of the bikepark!
I have not ridden there without Owen for a few years and the trails had changed slightly, I am glad to say that my riding seems to have improved too! Or maybe it was that I was riding with someone faster than me… The biggest changes were on the red graded trails, with more drops, rock gardens and even a 270º berm. As my full suspension Four is still undergoing a rebuild, I was riding my Clockwork Evo hardtail and felt somewhat under-biked on the red trails.
The best bit of the day was that after each lap we would see the boys somewhere else in the bike park – they were covering some distance! Especially given that they were pushing up, rather than riding in the uplift van. They seemed to be having so much fun that they did not even notice us waving at them. The three boys all seemed to be at a similar level of riding, although Owen, being the youngest, appeared to be flagging a bit at the end. I did still need to drag him off the pumptrack when it was time to go home though.
Owen said he enjoyed himself and would like to do it again – which is great because it also worked well for me. Next time it would be good to get there a bit earlier so that we could do some laps of the blue trails together – Owen would like to ride the “Cheese Roller” trails from the top of the hill. Hopefully, we will be able to fit one in during the summer holidays!