Why Would a Ski Instructor take her Bike instructor Qualifications?

I love biking as well as skiing? … well, although this is true there are also other things to consider as well.

Alex jumping on her bike in Les Deux Alpes

Alex taking a man made drop off in Les Deux Alpes

Because climate change and global warming are becoming more and more real I’ve had to have a think about the future of skiing in the summer. Whilst my aim is to continue to ski in Les Deux Alpes in the summer whilst the glacier is open. I’m not 100% sure that this will be forever, so TipTop Ski Coaching is diversifying.

Ski Resorts are now becoming bike parks in the summer months. Les Deux Alpes was one of the first to open its lifts and pistes to mountain bikes. And in my opinion is one of the best!

A lot of clients that come to ski in the summer love to bike as well. And a lot of clients that come to bike love to ski. So what better thing to do than start the road to becoming a bike guide/instructor. This way TipTop can take you skiing in the mornings and biking in the afternoons! Perfect!!

Les Deux Alpes Glacier

Les Deux Alpes Glacier looking good June 2019

After lots of research and conversations with existing instructors/guides and various governing bodies. Its appeared that MIAS was the best, particularly for its connections in Europe.

The start of the road to becoming a Bike instructor

I have spent the summer training on my bike, riding more and more difficult terrain and learning the tricks of the trade. I have been lucky enough to be able to watch  Gravity Bike in action here Les Deux Alpes. The instructors here are second too non and have taught me loads. Not only how to ride my bike, but how to manage a group and ensure that the sessions are safe and fun. Why not follow them on Facebook or Instagram.

Gravity Bike

David from Gravity Bike in Les Deux Alpes

SAFETY, ENJOYMENT, LEARNING is something we have drilled into us in BASI (British Association of Snowsports Instructors) and something I drill into all my trainee ski instructors. I can clearly see how this fits into Mountain Bike instruction as well.

The MIAS Level 1&2 course – Day 1

Finally I am ready to take on the MIAS program. I booked my course Level 1&2 with Gethin MTB in South Wales. The pre course information and booking process was excellent. I also booked the Mechanics course for the 2 days following the leaders course.

We all turned up at the venue – a village hall in a small Welsh village. Teas, Coffees and biscuits and Welsh Cakes were laid out. A warm welcome and introduction was given before we got stuck into the course material.

Classroom content

The first morning was spent looking at managing a group from the first enquiry through to the delivery. We looked at what information we would need to collect and what information would need to be given to ensure a smooth course. This part I found reassuringly easy as its very similar to booking a ski lesson.

The next topic was risk assessments. Again this was straight forward and very similar to what I am used to doing, particularly the “dynamic” risk assessments. This is the continued assessment of risk as you go. The decision making process throughout the session.

Map reading was next on the agenda. Very important to know where you are going and to be able to read a map. Routes sometimes have to be changed due to clients needs or the weather so having a map and compass and knowing how to use them could make or break your session. We covered taking a bearing and general features of the map. This I felt was an introductory level map reading session and some people on the course would benefit from a bit more practice. I acted as a ginny-pig for a navigation course with White Marmotte in Les Deux Alpes that would be an excellent course to compliment this one. Anyone interested in these courses can contact me through my contact page and I’ll put you in contact with Ian who runs them.

Finally we looked at how to check a bike before setting off. The “M” check. Which is just as it sounds, work your way around the bike in the shape of an M. This covers all major features of the bike and allows you to know that the bike is in good working order before setting off. Again something that could save a session, no-one wants to realise their bike is broken half way round a circuit!

Practical content

After lunch we kitted up ready for a real ride. There was talk of rock gardens, root shoots and drop offs. All of which would be in the criteria for this course so I was feeling a little apprehensive, so say the least!

We rode out into the country on a lovely old disused railway … all good so far! within 10 mins we hit our first feature, the drop off.

Gethin MTB

Aeden from Gethin MTB explaining the first obstacle on the MIAS L1&2 ride.

Aeden explained this really well and placed stones where we needed to pass. There was also a bike to go round so we all got the right angle to achieve the task. I could relax, this was much smaller than what I had been practicing!

Next we hit the rock garden. Again it was easier than I had imagined. Very rocky but not to steep so easier than what I had been practicing in Les Deux Alpes! I remembered Seb (my husbands) instructions … look ahead and take up the “crapaud” position! This is Toad position in french! And I sailed through.

The rock Garden

The entrance to the rock garden.

The last key obstacle was the root shoot. This appears to be a steeper track with a bend in it and some roots to add to the fun. Again seeing this put my mind at rest as I’d been prepared well by Gravity Bike and my husband! I tackled this with ease and waited safely at the bottom.

Aeden showing us how its done

Aeden showing us how its done on the root shoot!

Conclusion of Day 1

I was very pleased to have passed all the obstacles and without too much trouble, including a few smaller ones not featured here. And we are back at the car, first day over! – Well except a bit of homework to do tonight!

I went and rode the course again with those that I would be delivering my section with to be sure we were all happy with it. I was able to put my coaching skills into action here which was actually the highlight of the day for me!

The MIAS Level 1&2 course – Day 2

We meet at the Butchers Arms this morning for a coffee and bacon butties for those who haven’t had the luxury of a full welsh breakfast in their B&B.

We went over our risk assessments for the day and set off on the practical test. Each section of the route had been allocated to a group. We had the final, easiest section on the road. Although we must not forget that in  fact it is potentially the section with the greatest risk!

Everyone delivered their sections really well and we returned to the Butchers Arms for a debrief.

Nail Biting moment

100% Pass rate – Fantastic news for everyone and we are all debriefed on the next stages of the MIAS system for us. For me that is easy its the Mechanics course starting tomorrow!

Team Photo outside the Butchers Arms

Team Photo outside the Butchers Arms

My Tips for anyone wanting to go and take this course

Top Tip No. 1 Firstly make sure you’re confident on your bike. Ride your bike as much as possible and in as many different terrains as possible.

Top Tip No. 2 If you can try to shadow or book on some group bike lessons or guiding sessions so you can see how others do it. This way you can also experience things first hand, What do you like? What do you not like?

Top Tip No. 3 Enjoy every minute you have on your bike … its all great fun!

Thank you to Aedan of Gethin MTB and the the Bunkhouse for a fantastic course! I am very much looking forward to continuing through the system with you!