Just a mere 9 years after getting my first guiding qualification, I’m very proud to be able to call myself a British Cycling Level 3 MTB Leader. That means I can guide people on mountain bikes anywhere in Europe (with the exception of France, for now. More on that another day), and for us Brits, it can be described as the gold standard in guiding. Hooray!
I actually did the training for the old Mountain Bike Leader (MBL) qualification right after my first season in 2007 but life took a different course for a few years so I never did the assessment.
Fast forward to 2011, and I was back in the mountains working as a guide, and again in 2012, 2013 and 2014.. Not surprisingly my experience and quality as a guide now well outstripped my original qualification! Then last summer I had the opportunity to go on the training course for the new MBL equivalent, the British Cycling Level 3 MTB Leader Award. Bit of a mouthful eh!
The training course with Cyclewise was brilliant. Even after all the summers of guiding I’d done, I still got plenty out of it and went away with some good feedback and a few cool new things to think about. Of course, it was also enhanced by the chance to enjoy some good riding and banter with Rich & Craig, Cyclewise head shredders.
The months ticked past until last weekend it was time to head back to the Lake District for assessment. I took the opportunity to spend a few extra days riding in the area as being based in France, it’s become a rare treat. Luckily the weather was well and truly on point, so much so that by the end of my new bike’s first week, I’d covered over 200km on it!
Saturday rolled around and I was quite nervous entering the classroom where we’d start the weekend. I knew I could do the do, but was worried about making some sort of silly elementary mistake which would result in a fail. First up was checking mechanics skills, luckily one of my strong points as I’ve always done all my own bike maintenance and fixing. Just what I needed to help put me at ease.
After lunch it was navigation test time. I don’t struggle with this, but in a pressurized situation, you know, a bit like the test I was on, I’m slightly lacking in confidence. Fortunately a few very intensive days of nav practice beforehand had helped with the confidence and I took us to all the right places!
By the end of Saturday I’d gone from feeling a little nervous and apprehensive to totally looking forward to Sunday’s riding. We’d ridden some excellent trails and seen some stunning views and there was only going to be more of the same.
All day Sunday was spent guiding. There were three of us on the test and we had two real life folk to guide, one of whom was a local lass called Rachel who I’d read about and was really excited to meet – I still rarely get to ride with good female riders, and feel like I’m totally missing out on everything going on in the UK, like the Hope Tech Women’s rides for example.
This bit I was not at all concerned about, just needed to be on my best guiding behaviour. There were one or two things which I could’ve done better (and being knackered after 5 days on the bike definitely did not help, there was some mental fortitude required to look more energetic than I felt on Sunday!) but I got some really nice feedback from our guinea pig clients, Rach and Giles, both directly and through our assessor Rich. Happy days 🙂 .
So that’s it! I passed, and I’m really excited that I can take people biking in rad places now without having to be working through a chalet company… Where do you want to go??