Once a coach, always a coach. I have no idea who stated that originally, but for me, it sure has been true.
I spent most of my adult life as a national and international coach for top snowboard athletes. Just a few short years ago my life consisted of six to eight months each year spent flying all over the U.S. and the world with athletes competing in World Cup and Olympic qualifying events. This spring I joined up with a group of like-minded mountain bikers and participated in a three day certification course for mountain bike instructors and guides. The course was held in Bend, Oregon on the amazing Phil’s trailhead system so many of us visit as often as possible. My re-entry into the world of coaching was about to begin, albeit in a much lower key way.
I had been looking forward to this for months and the actual event did not disappoint. Instructors from Scotland, England and North Carolina combined with participants from all over the U.S. including SoCal, Sun Valley, Minnesota, and me as the southern Oregon representative.
The Professional Mountain Bike Instructor Association (PMBI), based out of Whistler BC, is the foremost internationally recognized training and certification program. Having spent many weekends at required certifications put on by numerous licensing entities, I didn’t want to waste my time on anything less than the best. PMBI did not disappoint.
Ross (from Scotland), Paul (from England), and Dave (from North Carolina) provided the expertise, experience, and attitude which resulted in a great experience for each of the attendees. While everyone was there for the certification, our take away ended up being so much more.
The course was rigorous and challenging with homework every night and focused riding every day. The homework culminated in a written test and the riding was evaluated with multiple components including teaching, technical knowledge, and riding ability demonstrated over a variety of terrain. At the end of the three days we were given a pass or fail, depending on our performance.
Ross, Paul, and Dave worked us hard for three days and constantly challenged us to become better riders, sharing their proven system of teaching others to improve with a focus on fundamental skills.
In addition to bettering my own riding, the certification is going to enable me to guide groups and lead rider workshops via the programs being developed at Unreal Cycles in Central Point, OR.
Unreal Cycles, are planning a full slate of guided mountain biking excursions as well as clinics geared toward a variety of riders. In order to ensure the highest quality experience, they want to make sure their guide and coach, has the background to make it happen. That’s where I come in.
At the end of Day Three, I was happy to receive my certification as well as an invitation from the instructors to continue on to work toward my next level certification. While I was flattered at their praise and their encouragement, I’m really looking forward to leading groups of riders on many of the great trail systems in southern Oregon. Unreal Cycles is putting all the pieces together for some fun events, with both riding/skills clinics and guided shuttle trips for riders living and visiting southern Oregon. Stay tuned for opportunities and a schedule that will help you explore some of our great trails and improve your riding. See you on the trail!