Developing skills and confidence of riders to accelerate their learning curve and riding is one of the awesome things about being a coach. You are the mentor and guide on the riders journey and coaching experience. Behind the scenes it’s all about planning and assessing, riding new areas and with new people is a key element in developing as a coach and also understanding different groups and their requirements and learning styles and types of riding. You read the trail differently, feeling for trail feedback, modifying your riding, processing the muscle memory for hitting those sweet spots in a technique or line.




Another part of coaching that’s hugely rewarding is being given the opportunity to engage with new riders and groups, as riders we all know the physical and mental health benefits of MTB, as well as getting the endorphins going it’s a fantastic way to interact with the environment and get out and explore. Recently I have put on sessions that were designed to get new riders inspired and offer young shredders the chance to learn some skills. Running a coaching business is pretty hard work but hugely enjoyable, sometimes though you need to take a step back, grab opportunities that help develop the sport we all love and inspire new riders and ‘Pay Back The Dirt’


Keeping it clean


Sheffield is known as The Outdoor City, it’s a badge that it can wear legitimately, and with pride. Over 70 parks and some fantastic historic woodland areas cover around 22% of the city, all good, however the cherry on the top, Sheffield lies on the fringes of the Peak District, the UK’s first designated National Park and home to some of the finest MTB trails in the UK (well I am biased on that one!) and some of the classic climbing routes. To celebrate this The Outdoor City is promoted as part of Sheffield’s tourism and activity offer by the council. Sheffield Adventure Film Festival (ShAFF) runs as part of ‘The Outdoor City Weekender’. For 2019 The weekender grew into a series of events, workshops, films and general outdoors related goodness that was ‘The Festival of the Outdoors’.


The urban setting for the sessions was a great location. Image: Jane Campbell
The urban setting for the sessions was a great location. Image: Jane Campbell


As part of the Festival Trail Advantage teamed up with Dom Ferris from #TrashFreeTrails, an initiative that promotes keeping the trails clean and making it a nicer place to ride. Dom also does education work for the legendary ‘Surfers Against Sewage’ (SAS), leaders in environmental activism since 1990. I am also a Ride Sheffield Ambassador and as part of our sessions we always promote the ‘Be Nice Say Hi’ message, and Henry from Ride Sheffield joined us to explain a bit more about this important message. The free ‘Pay Back the Dirt’ sessions ran for 1 hr and the format was designed to help explain to the young riders and their families that as well as enjoying the trails and riding responsibly, it’s also our responsibility to keep them clean and also to promote a positive and pro-active image to other user groups who enjoy the outdoors too.


The #TrashMob at rest! Chance for Henry from local MTB Advocacy Group, Ride Sheffield, explaining about 'Be Nice, Say Hi'.
The #TrashMob at rest! Chance for Henry from local MTB Advocacy Group, Ride Sheffield, explaining about ‘Be Nice, Say Hi’. Image : Jane Campbell


Now all this may sound a bit heavy, and the young riders on the sessions just wanted to ride or get creative with Trash Free Trails, so we made sure that the 1 hour time slot was action packed and on message! The MTB skills course was run in a concrete park with some great features, known as ‘PinBall Park’, using some of our Timberfly Ramps and the different levels in the park made a great little course for riders to sharpen their skills. Dom from Trash Free Trails bought some awesome (and worrying) environmental facts to the session, the #TrashMob litter picked the area and learned loads of facts about plastics and the importance of leaving only tryre tracks and memories on the trail. Trash Free Trails will be coming back to Sheffield on April 18th as part of their ‘Spring Trail Clean Tour, which will see lady Cannings trail get shown some love, hoping for a good turn out.


Litter collected by the #TrashMob (right), and some historic trash from the Trash Free Trails museum, Newcastle Brown and Coke cans from the 80s. Image : Jane Campbell


The Pay Back the Dirt sessions were a great way for us to build new friendships with Trash Free Trails and Sheffield Adventure Film Festival and also look at adding a wider message to our coaching sessions, as a coach who uses some of the local trails its good to get out there and spread the word on the awesomeness of MTB and also how lucky we are in the Sheffield to have such a vibrant outdoors community. In recent years there has been an emphasis on the environmental impact that we as users have on the outdoors environments, whilst increased participation in sports and activities in the outdoors is great for health, wellbeing and the outdoors industries and general stoke, the kick back is increased usage can lead to increased litter and environmental impact factors like erosion. Making more people aware of the small things they can do to reduce these detrimental impacts is one step closer to making a more sustainable outdoors landscape to explore and enjoy.


Getting the Message out there


Jane Campbell is the ‘Activism Lead’ for Sheffield Adventure Film Festival and has been instrumental in pulling together the awesome extended range of activities on offer at this year’s festival that highlight environmental issues. We asked Jane a few questions on how and why she sees this additional strand weaving into the already awesome fabric of ShAFF.




TA: What made you decide to put this vibrant program on ?


JC: I’d been to other festivals and seen lots of inspirational films and talks about environmental action and adventurers who are also activists, but always left without a clear sense of my own direction. I knew what we needed to do was get people to take action – like never before. So ShAFF festival director Matt and I got together and designed a festival programme that we hoped would empower people to gets hands on like never before, and take this action back into their daily lives. As adventurers we live, work and play in incredible and fragile landscapes – if we all do little things to pay back the dirt then we stand a chance of it being there for future generations to enjoy too.


TA: It was great to see more sessions aimed at families, ours was one. How important do you think this is in ensuring a sustainable outdoors environment ?


JC: ShAFF is known as the friendly festival, and there’s always loads to do for the whole family. We wanted kids to see for themselves that standing up for our planet can be really fun – it’s much more likely they’re going to want to do it again, and teach their parents to, too!


TA: Our session teamed up with Trash Free Trails, as a coach I see a responsibility to not only coach skills bit also to get riders to see how they need to act to be respectful of their environment. Was this a strand that ran through ShAFF?


JC: As adventurers, we’re always after the next thrill. Sometimes that thrill can come at the detriment of our landscape. I want to flip that on its head and wake people up to the thrill and the adventure to be had from taking action for this planet. ShAFF is the start of that for me: put on an experience like Pay Back the Dirt where kids can get a kick out of ragging round a MTB course and also get a kick out of spray painting environmental messages, and you see them starting to get a buzz out of both. When being a mountain biker also means being a wilderness warrior, that’s when we’ll know we’ve won.



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