Playing on bikes

Playing on bikes

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With almost all types of cycling, pushing hard on the pedals is going to get you places. But work on your bike handling and that’ll give you the extra something it takes to find those gaps, stick your lines and connect skills for a seamless run.

We caught up with multi-discipline masters Ella McLean-Howell and Corran Carrick-Anderson on a December mountain bike training camp to understand the power of play.

If you’re heading out to just muck about, where do you go and what sort of thing do you do?

Ella: “I always go to my local woodland which has loads of great MTB trails. I like to test out new trails and session certain features until I feel like I’ve ridden them perfectly. These type of rides can be some of the best for improving my riding!”

Corran: “When I go and mess about on the bike, I do like to go and do some jumps. And I’m lucky we have some great jumps nearby. But I also think just car park skills are great and I enjoy doing them. Just things like wheelies, manuals and stoppies are things I like to practice and mess about trying different things.”

Corran Carrick-Anderson riding over rocks at the world championships in Scotland

Playing can end in falling. Why is it sometimes helpful to get things wrong?

Ella: “I remember first trying to wheelie and falling off the back of my bike straight onto the ground but at least it taught me to cover my back break. For me, you shouldn’t look at failure as a bad thing but as piece of learning instead; you have to make mistakes in order to progress.”

Corran: “I’m definitely someone who likes to try things that are a little out my comfort zone, and pushing myself like that does mean things sometimes not going right. But I’m someone who doesn’t mind messing things up as I feel it’s part of the learning, and how I become a better rider as I feel what I do wrong, and change it. I have had some silly crashes doing little skills that have just gone a bit wrong, but luckily I’m normally able to get back up and try it again.”

Ella McLean-Howell jumping on her mountain bike

Why play on bikes?

Corran: “I think it is really important to play on bikes as messing around and having fun can sometimes be the best way to improve your skills. And these skills can have a big benefit in your racing, and just your riding in general.”

Ella: “I think it’s important as just playing around on your bike is so good for building up your skills and confidence and most importantly it reminds us of why we started riding in the first place.”

There are so many ways to play! From searching out cobbles to look mum, no hands! Plus there’s ripping through puddles and wobbly track stands. Find your fun to develop new skills and better get to know your bike.


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