With a new fleet of bikes, trained and experienced staff and access to world-class trails in Villars-Gryon right on our doorstep, mountain biking became the fastest growing activity in Aiglon.
Making the most of our mountain location, three different weekly clubs introduced a range of Aiglon students to this wonderful sport; : Senior Sport Mountain Biking and Road Cycling, Junior Mountain Biking and Senior Mountain Biking.
The most challenging part of mountain biking, in general, is developing the necessary skills to deal with the huge variety of features encountered out on the trails. Overcoming most of these features requires linking only a few fundamental movements. It might seem complex negotiating a series of obstacles, but after practising the core skills it becomes instinctive. This is relative to all aspects of learning at Aiglon College.
Last term, we set out to establish a fundamental skills framework via sessions based on progressive ability development. The objective? Advancing to a Level 3 proficiency award in the future.
The key was for students to learn the basic riding skills in controlled areas before moving onto more complex skills and more difficult terrain. This helps avoid frustration and the creation of physical and mental barriers to progress. Many of the skills can be developed at slow speed on artificial courses and translated into advanced speed skills out on the trails. Having competence and confidence at low speed often makes the skill happen naturally at higher speeds.
The first three weeks involved the development of various bike handling skills on site. These included; bike stance and balance, controlled braking, gear changing, steering and cornering, weight shifting and line choice.
Then, having progressed from fundamental skills, they were able to enjoy cross country rides in La Barboleuse before taking on larger descents. These included off-road trails to Ollon via Panex and culminated in the well-known local favourite, Maxi Avalanche, which descends from Villars all the way to Mines de Sel de Bex.
We also enjoyed time on the UCI pump-track, complementing our trail experiences and honing our basic skills. This proved to be a real hit and on a number of occasions, the Expedition Team even combined this with a cycle along the River Rhone during weekend expeditions. Our road cycling group and senior MTB group also enjoyed an evening at the UCI Velodrome with former BMX and Track Cyclist Olympian Craig MacLean.
We look forward to welcoming the activity back in the summer term. As well as helping these students advance their skills, we will introduce new students to MTB through a beginner group, developing their fundamental skills before hitting the trails again!
Thank you to Ms. McKenna for her activity write up.