Muddymoles mountain biking in the Surrey Hills and Mole Valley

UK Bike Skills – Public Training Day by the Jedi

Posted by Muddy John | July 10, 2012 | 10 comments so far

UK Bike Skills

It was back in May that Karl alerted the Moles to the fact that Tony Doyle – “The Jedi” – had a public skills day scheduled for July.    I had been on a  1-1 session last year and was keen for a refresher.  Tony has an outstanding reputation for bike skills training, but the downside is that his courses are booked out months in advance, so the chance to go at relatively short notice was not to be missed.

So it was that accompanied by Roadmole, I met up with Karl for a pastie and coffee at the Watton at Stone bakery, before the short drive up the road to Tony’s training area.  In total 8 participants assembled at 10am in the deceptively sunny parking area, including Lee from Diary of a Mountain biker.

Tony, accompanied for the day by his 15yr old son Nathan, started off with a skills check, which involves the apparently simple task of riding in a figure of 8 around a couple of sticks, then trying to hop over one of them. Having identified some areas for us each to improve, we practiced the exercise again then headed over the jumps area.  The sky had quickly darkened and soon a heavy shower had started.  A few of the smarter riders had brought waterproofs, but the rest of us simply had to man up  – for most of the day the weather alternated between light rain and solid downpours.

Karl in the skills check area

Karl doing the skills check

The jumps area is a series of humps, ranging from about 6” to about 3’ where we practiced our techniques on progressively larger jumps – with the added benefit of getting in some quality breaking practice on the increasingly slippery downhill landing area, with the incentive of avoiding an encounter with the hedge.

Jumps area

The jumps area

After getting the basics of the push established in the jumps area we moved onto the trail.  Tony broke this down into short sections and we worked on applying our skills to riding features such berms, flat corners, rock gardens and small drops.  Over the next few hours we progressed to link these sections a eventually were riding the whole trail, with encouragement and corrections from Nathan and Tony, often with the help of watching ourselves on Tony’s camera.

Tony looking ahead

Roadmole enters a berm

By now we were starting to tire mentally, which I noticed as I started making mistakes on sections I had previously ridden well.  So we adjourned for a break and some coffee before Tony took us to his drops area where there were a couple of drops of about 12’ – 15’ each, one with a nasty looking vertical section.  However Tony said they were both easily rollable and Nathan demonstrated this.  Karl was soon having a go but I found both looked very intimidating.  After a few minutes, I decided to have a go at what looked like the less outrageous one.  Seconds later I was on the flat, with a foolish grin and taking the bike round for a couple more goes.

Steep Karl

Karl makes it look easy

Muddy John – it definitely looked steeper from the top!

Muddy John – it definitely looked steeper from the top!

The day drew to an end with a walk around the North Shore area that many will have seen on Tony’s videos – but narrow planks of wood 15’-20’ above the ground look even more intimidating in real life.  Tony said there were only two people who could ride the lot, and they were both with us, but unfortunately the rain had made the wood to slippery for any demos.


Tony “Jedi” Doyle on the North Shore

The sun returned to round out a fantastic day and as Roadmole and I carefully stowed our muddy bikes in the Mondeo, next door one of our fellow participants had his bike on a stand for a full strip down – to fit it in the back of his Masserati.  As we headed towards the M25 my takeaways were surprise that although I thought I had remembered most of the skills, how much I benefited from the refresher.  And the satisfaction of doing one of the drops, tempered by the regret I didn’t try the harder  one.  For anybody considering whether or not to spend up to £180  on a 1-1 session, all I can say is that a session with The Jedi is by far the best upgrade you can ever make to your bike.

Read Tony’s own view of the day.

Muddy John

About the author

John has been biking in the Surrey Hills since the late 1990s but only started riding with the MuddyMoles in 2008. In the couple of years since then he has learned more about mountain biking from the Moles than he learned in the previous ten.

Having remained loyal to his vintage pale blue and orange Stumpjumper hardtail since the last century, he has recently explored the limits of his storage space and his wife’s patience by adding an On-One Inbred Singlespeed and an Orange Five.

John is usually wearing or riding something blue and does not eat any raw fruit beginning with the letter T.

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  1. Karl says:

    Thanks for the write-up and great piccies JR

    I had a superb day, hardly even noticed the rain.

    Yes.. Tony is an exceptional teacher. He brims over with a contagious lust for life, and a wondrous enjoyment in his craft.. He controls the process perfectly, by gradually building upon the techniques you ‘just get’ when you are first there, and then add to incrementally.

    It’s so nice now, to be sure of the right way to corner, and how to approach and tackle obstacles.. what a relief! You just can’t beat being shown the way by a master.

    I’m going to be out there with even more enthusiasm..if that were possible.. and I’m know it will be giving me a new dimension to my riding.. I’ll know what I’m doing, and my grin I think, will be reaching cartoon widths.. It certainly was on the day.

    Damned sure I’ll be wiping-out a lot less too. Won’t be exceeding my skill level if I follow the teaching correctly. Mind you, it is hellish slippy out there.

    Tony spent much more time with us than I had expected, and I was thrilled to have been able to do the drops.. especially the dead scary sideways one!

    How great of him to spend that extra time with us on the drops and with the tour around North Shore..
    Wow! What a playground.

    I spent a short time with Nathan watching the others ride a drop and berm, and it was great to hear his take on the lines and the styles.. Thanks Nate!

    Many have said it’s the best money you can spend on your riding..
    Quite simply, they’re right!

    I’ll be back..

  2. Andrew says:

    Hi guys, great meeting you all on Saturday, even though I don’t think I had much in the way of spare brain processing capacity for chit chat!

    I’d really be up for spending some time away from the flatlands of Hertfordshire after our session with Tony. Any chance I could join you at Surrey Hills or Swinley some time?

    Only one ‘s’ in Maserati, by the way 😉

  3. John R says:

    Andrew, you would be welcome to join us. For more details go to the Forum and in the topic Rides see the Regular Rides Details thread near the top.

    Also check the Rides topic for specific details as sometimes we have an alternative start, or if there is no post about a ride we probably aren’t having one – as looks the case tonight!

  4. Cathie (aka Lost Lass) says:

    Hi John

    Really good reading and I love your down hill photo, I hate it when that happens when you know the hill was steeper but the camera makes it look easy 😉

  5. jedi says:

    hiya, Nathan is my mate not my son!! 😀

    was an awesome session and thank you for such kind words

  6. Nathan says:

    How could you say that Dad! Next you will be telling me that Sandra Bullock isn’t my real Mum

  7. Sandra says:


    You’re not my son, my son is a real man who doesn’t play with old men in the woods.

    Did you tickle his tummy sausage?

  8. Bernard Cribbins says:

    Hi, Bernard Cribbins here. I’m not sure if I am still alive or dead; I’m pretty old anyway and haven’t been on the TV for bloody years.

    Anyway, I just logged on to tell Nathan that I am pretty sure that I am your Grandfather, if that helps.

    Give me a ring on 07933 650 212 or contact me via a medium (if I am dead) as it would be great to chat.


  9. Ellen Degeneres says:

    I am your mother Nathan, join me on the dark side, give into your feelings

    Please ring home 0333 121 2125 to let me me know when you’ll be back so I can have your tea ready, its your favourite!!

  10. rob p says:

    Great write up of a cool day. So cool that I went back a couple of weeks later for a public Jumps & Drops day when a space came up. Still only scratching the surface of what Tony put in my head.

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