Level 3 Mountain Bike Leadership Award

Level 3 Mountain Bike Leadership Award

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The Level 3 MTB Leadership Award capitalises on your prior MTB Leading skills, knowledge and experience enabling you to take your groups to more technically demanding and remote riding across the UK.

Course overview

Once you have embedded and begun to refine your leadership though your Level 2 MTB Leadership Award (or an approved alternative if coming through the Direct Entry Pathway), you can access the Level 3 MTB Leadership Award.  Level 3 is specifically oriented around enabling you to lead riders in both more technically demanding riding and more remote locations.

The qualification process is appropriate for anyone looking to operate in these locations, whether in volunteer, club, peer or working environments.  It also extends and embeds advanced leadership techniques for those wishing to remain in Level 2 terrain, supporting the Continuous Professional Development of Level 2 Leaders.

A full three day training course is followed by a flexible period of logged and recorded consolidation enables you to practice and embed the refined aspects of Level 3 Leadership.  A two day assessment including the leading of real riders as well as peers verifies your qualification.

Course content

The Level 3 continues your leadership development on many of the same areas you completed within your level 2, introducing new principles and refining your:

  • detailed planning and ride preparation
  • leading techniques and group management in technical and remote terrain including steep ground
  • map reading and use of additional equipment in mountain contexts with detailed accurate navigation in challenging circumstances
  • trailside repairs for complex faults and breakages
  • preventing incidents and managing risks in dynamic and remote conditions including dealing with emergencies and self rescue
  • nutrition, hydration and physiological requirements for riding in the mountain environment
  • equipment requirements, evaluation and tailoring for riders and the mountain environment
  • attentional focus and meeting the needs of riders across safety, enjoyment and capacity using the TTPP model
  • mountain weather and its implications
  • advanced mountain bike techniques

Dates and Venues

Although much of the Level 3 Award can be applied anywhere, Level 3 courses require very specialist learning environments.  Courses are delivered at approved and quality venues within mountain environments throughout the UK. 



To attend a Level 3 training course, you will:

  • Hold a Level 2 MTB Leadership Award or a Trail Cycle Leader Award (or fulfil the requirements of the Direct Entry Pathway) [link to new Direct Entry webpage] .
  • Have completed and logged at least 30 quality days since your qualification and within the last 18 months.  These rides should be distributed around the wild and mountain areas of the UK and should include at least two of the three home countries of England, Scotland and Wales.  You can use the British Cycling MTB Leadership logbook to record these if you wish. 
  • Have embedded your MTB Leadership with at least 12 rides leading groups (these can be part of the above 30 quality days).
  • Be competent in the techniques and skills required to safely negotiate the demands of trails typically found in the Level 3 environment.  As a guide this is comparable to black graded purpose built trails, but will primarily be natural trails.
  • Hold current membership with British Cycling at Ride level of above
  • Hold a current two-day outdoor First Aid certificate (this can be undertaken at a later date, but ideally is submitted prior to assessment). It is suggested that the course include 16 hours of contact time. For further details on context and outdoor industry best practice guidelines please see the requirements under band 3 within the Institute of Outdoor Learning first aid statement.  You will need to present evidence of this to British Cycling by emailing a copy to mtbleadership@britishcycling.org.uk with your membership number.
  • Have undertaken current, suitable safeguarding training.  An online safeguarding course is provided as part of your registration pack [link to the subheading Registration on British Cycling’s mountain bike leadership programme below] or you can submit evidence of completion of an alternative course to mtbleadership@britishcycling.org.uk.

What do we consider to be a quality ride in preparation for training and assessment as a Level 3 Mountain Bike Leader?

  • Involvement in planning and leadership.
  • Adverse conditions may be encountered and map based detailed navigation skills required.
  • Experience of terrain and weather comparable to UK conditions.
  • Attention is paid to safety, increasing knowledge and practising skills.
  • The ride will include substantive sections of remote and / or technical difficulty which reflect the Level 3 environment.
  • Journeys are likely to contain a proportion of ascent and descent throughout.

Learners must have an appropriate level of physical fitness for a day’s riding in the level 3 leading environment. In addition to the terrain appropriate for a Level 2 Leader, the remit at Level 3 includes cycle accessible terrain that may:

  • require more than walking speed to be negotiated safely and successfully
  • requires wheels to leave the ground
  • not have an obvious line choice
  • be more than half an hour’s walk from where an ambulance can get to
  • not exceed the maximum leader-to-rider ratio of 1:8
  • only be during daylight in normal summer and intermediate seasonal conditions.


Assessment at Level 3 comprises a theory and a practical assessment.

The theory assessment is designed to enable you to demonstrate your knowledge, understanding and application in certain elements of the award.  It consists of both gateway and scored questions.  Gateway questions must be answered correctly.  Scored questions require you meet a minimum assignment score to be successful.

Your theory assessment will be sent to you by your provider once you have booked on a specific assessment date.  It is usually issued in a written format but we will endeavour to support different formats to support specific learning needs. You will be asked to complete the assessment and return it to the tutor for marking before attending the assessment.

The practical assessment consists of two days of practical application in Level 3 Leadership where you can demonstrate your competence in applying the course content across a wide range of environments.  These include classroom and non-riding elements such as trailside repairs, leading of peers and guiding of general riders who are not known to you in Level 3 environments, both technical and remote.

During your rides you will be assigned specific tasks and sections of a route to lead throughout the two days.  You will be expected to apply Level 3 Leadership methods and techniques throughout the assessment, whether leading or not, to provide a flowing journey and you may be asked to respond to questions or perform the role of a leader at any time.  The tasks, route and group will be presented in such a way to provide opportunities for you to demonstrate competence to the level required and will use a combination of real situations and simulation.

As part of ensuring competency, a proportionate level of pressure may be applied to reflect the circumstances a Level 3 Leader may find themselves under.  The tutor will facilitate your assessment throughout the day to also encourage an environment of continuous learning. They will support all learners to understand where their personal skill set meets the qualification requirements including explaining where and why, if it is not yet at the required standard. All learners will be provided with personal action plans for future development after the assessment.

Referral and Re-assessment

It is the intention that you are provided with enough information and guidance through training and prior to assessment that you are able to be successful. There are however occasions where this may not be the case and referral can occur. Depending on which criteria have not yet been met a variety of actions can fulfil a future reassessment, for example written evidence, a one to one demonstration with a tutor or attendance at a new assessment opportunity. You are encouraged to discuss the assessment with the tutor you book with and with British Cycling prior to attendance to ensure that you are ready for the day.

Registration with British Cycling’s mountain bike leadership programme

A one off registration on British Cycling’s MTB leadership programme is a requirement of all leaders undertaking these awards.  Where you have registered previously (for example prior to your Level 2 MTB Leader Award), you do not need to re-register.  Where you hold the Trail Cycle Leader Award or are entering the programme through the Direct Entry pathway, you will need to complete the registration process.

If you are not already a British cycling member, you will also need to purchase Ride membership which will automatically be added to your MTB Leadership Programme registration fee.

You will then be provided with the Level 2 MTB Leadership training handbook, handouts resource, aide-memoire pack and an email link for complimentary access to an online safeguarding course.  You should review these resources prior to starting your Level 3 training courses to refresh and update your knowledge.

If you do not regularly work with young people or do not have evidence of completing safeguarding training, you will need to complete online training and a short online assessment. 

If you have already completed safeguarding training and assessment, you should send a copy of your certificate to mtbleadership@britishcycling.org.uk. Alternatively, if you regularly work with young people, a letter from the organisation you work for verifying your competency in a safeguarding role also satisfies this requirement.

NB. By registering with the MTB Leadership Programme, you are confirming that you are happy for the relevant information to be shared where necessary for the delivery of the course, for example with course tutors, the quality assurance team and/or EduCare (or other safeguarding provider).


Cost of qualification

The awards are delivered by approved providers.  Please contact providers directly for course costs.  Their contact details can be found in the dates and venues page.

How do I book?

See the list of current dates and venues, select your provider and course and book directly with them via the link provided.

Contact British Cycling regarding the British Mountain Bike Leadership Awards

If you feel you might need extra support to undertake a training course or assessment because of a physical or learning disability, please contact the Mountain Bike Leadership Team ahead of booking. We can then discuss any reasonable adjustments that would support you to become a Mountain Bike Leader.

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