Swinley Forest - Coaching & Skills Development Area
Posted 7th May 2019
2019 see's Swinley Bike Hub celebrate it's 5 year anniversary here at the Forest. Over the years we have coached some truly amazing riders from those learning to ride, schools & colleges right through to those looking to tackle a national series in their riding discipline. The Swinley Coaching team eeekes out the best from the trails on the sessions we spend with riders, however we feel that we can add even more progression to riders with dedicated trail features for riders to practice in coaching sessions. Swinley Coaching Area was born out of the need to offer a wider range of features that will allow far greater reaching progression for all types, skills, ages and ability of rider to reach their own potential.
We aim to open the Coaching Area from July and through the next 2 months we will be launching way more information and timetables of how to make use of the facility once it is live for the summer.
The Swinley Coaching Area will have various zones, in phase 1 we will have open:
- Kids Zone
- Corner & Flow Zone
- Drop Zone
- Jump Zone
- Ride Zones - 2 Lines to bring together all of these skills, one focused more on trail riding, the other tighter for adding speed & form.
Each Zone will be part of our coaching program that will allow riders to progress through each zone over a number of weeks in bite size sessions. In between sessions the skills can be practiced out on the trails or in open coaching practice sessions.
If a rider though prefers to just practice drops, flow or jumps we will be offering 1:1 and group sessions dedicated to progressing that skill. All of the sessions will be designed to ensure that anything in the coaching area will prepare you for anything out in the trail network so you have the skills and confidence to ride your goals out in the forest.
Our ethos and driver for the Coaching Area is to focus on beginner to intermediate development for phase 1. Providing confidence and inspiring riders to have a go at the Blue and Red trails.
There will be a full timetable and detail of sessions launching over the next few weeks so you can plan your summer!
Swinley Coaching Area
The Coaching Area will be situated on Gravel Hill - the infamous hill close to The Look Out Discovery Centre that never managed to get live 3 years ago, so why now?
Since the volunteer freeride project was halted, we have been working closely with the Crown Estate to gain ascent to create a freeride area within the forest...somewhere and in line with the overarching trail strategy to offer progression for all levels of riders on the waymarked trails. The Crown Estate mid 2018 provided full & final approval for a volunteer engaged freeride area over in the Red 20 Clubhouse Area. The decision was made that the Red 20 area was a better choice for a freeride area as it was:
- The location of all the historic and more recent freeride style lines
- The location is mid point of the Red so more suited area for those type of riders to session and rejoin the waymarked trail
- Is an area that includes both Clubhouse and Camel lines so in time will offer more choice and style; led by volunteers wishes
This left an area of the forest on Gravel Hill that had gained ascent for riding, and that offered some nice terrain that could be used for riding. Given there was already a dedicated area used for coaching elsewhere in the forest by a provider, we asked and worked with The Crown Estate to understand if it was possible, and if it was, what would it need to look like to create a more accessible coaching area for a spread of riders at Swinley Forest. This discussions has taken close to 2 years and just last week contracts were signed by all parties to allow us to start work on creating a coaching area on Gravel Hill.
Swinley Coaching Area - Accessibility
Did we say contracts? Yes, we did. Swinley Forest is a commercial working forest, and land needs to drive rental income added to that we need to have a commercial contract with Bracknell Forest Council too - given most people will drive and use their car park to ride at the forest.
The Coaching Area will be a service we run, operate and maintain as a business and as such it will be accessible for coaching and coaching services only. If you arrive at the forest out of hours, or do not have a session booked then there is still 25km of trails and the freeride area over at Clubhouse set in 2,500 acres of forest to enjoy.
Over the past 6 months we have created partnerships with all ability, mental health, schools, colleges and the UK governing body cycling though to ensure that at certain times of the week we will open the coaching area and provide our services to communities that do not usually gain the ability to try riding a bike and when they do it helps there health in more ways than we can possibly imagine.
With our growing relationship with British Cycling we will be offering more youth and female orientated sessions which will allow us to scale and provide more sessions for these groups too.
All in all we have striven to ensure we offer progression for riders, and to provide the best and most accessible way for those people in our wider community the ability to try and get involved with our awesome sport of riding off road!
Keep up to date with how the area is coming along by popping in to see us, keeping tabs on our blog section or by following us on social media @swinleybikehub