Living the Dream
I have been riding mtb's since the late 80's so I would like to think I have absorbed a lot of cycling information, some of it useful and some of it less so and since then my passion for cycling has grown to what some people who know me might think of as a bit of an obsession or put it another way an addiction. It's not just mtb's any more either as I ride a road bike, a single speed cross and also an urban fixie for knocking about town on, and if I'm not riding my bikes I'm reading books about cycling or trawling the interweb to glean as much info as I can, be that about riding skills or mechanics or whatever, as long as it's to do with cycling, it's all good in my book and I can't get enough of it.
I'm always being told by friends and family that I ought to get a job as a mechanic as I build all my own bike's and do all my own wrenching, and it's something that I would like to do and no doubt would enjoy and it's something that I have looked at and tried to do a few times in the past, but it isn't as easy as you might think. For starters there aren't a lot of bike shops around and the ones that are like to employ youngsters and train them up.
The best bet is to get yourself on a Cytech course but your looking at well in excess of a £1000 to gain the basic qualification and then your in the lap of the gods on whether it will lead to employment.
For anyone who loves cycling a job riding your bike is the dream and it's always been mine. I have looked at being a bike courier but there just aren't any courier company's in Stoke on Trent/Newcastle u Lyme that use cycle's ? If anyone reading this knows of any please let me know ?
Another way for you to get to ride your bike and get paid for it is as a mtb guide but when I have read about it in magazines I got the feeling that I wouldn't be anywhere near good enough but that has changed since my brilliant and lovely girlfriend Debs started mtbing with me. I have been coaching her and leading her on rides and it's made me realise that over the years I have learnt a quite a bit afterall and that I could, with a bit of training, become a mtb leader. We got talking to a British Cycling rep at the Thornbridge Outdoors festival a couple of months ago and he gave me a leaflet on the new British Cycling MTB Leadership course that has merged with and is replacing from 2014 the SMBLA (Scottish Mountain bike Leadership) which is well regarded as the gold standard mtb leadership course in the UK. After looking at the BC website I thought if I was ever going to live the dream then this was it so I took up membership with BC, which is a course requirement and have taken delivery of the course handbook which tells you everything you need to know and learn about to become a leader. I have to keep a diary of my rides as you need to prove you have the experience in mountainous terrain & in all weathers and you need to have a minimum of 11 2-3 hr rides & 4 4+ hr rides before you attend the 2 day training course which will make sure you are able to plan & deliver rides, your leading techniques, map reading & navigation skills, management of accidents & emergency's, equipment set-up & trail side repairs and core mtb techniques. You also have to pass an online course on child protection and have a two day outdoors first aid certificate before you take your final assessment upon which if your successful you are qualified and insured to lead a group of up to 8 riders in mountainous terrain from spring until the end of autumn in the UK & Europe.
There are a few places that you can take the 2 day training course throughout the year and one is at Cannock Chase which is not far from where I live and would be cheaper but I'm going to take the course at the Plas y Brenin National Mountain Sports Centre which means me boarding for a couple of days and costing a little more but I think its worth the extra to have had the training in the Mountains and provided by the experts at the PYB NMSC .
I'm now trying to plan some big rides to make sure I can turn up with the confidence that I have the necessary experience, the Dark & White Orienteering should help with this and with the navigation skills as Debs & I plan to do every round, so fingers & toes crossed this time next year I will be writing about one of my first group rides as a MTB Leader.