TREAD Skills Clinics – your confidence is out there
01 January 1970
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Gerald de Kock: Welcome to another edition of our Old Mutual Live Mountain Bike podcast where we talk to people who have a passion for mountain biking and in whatever form. Predominantly as riders, but as you know, we’ve spoken to people from every aspect of the sport. From race organisers, route planners and people who perhaps earn a living out of the sport. But predominantly, as I said, it’s about those who have a passion for the sport. I’ve been joined today by Gresham Enerson from KwaZulu-Natal. Gresham, you have a passion for mountain biking, don’t you?
Gresham Enerson: Absolutely. Morning Gerald, absolutely. I started BMX when I was a little boy, racing around, tearing up the streets with my mates and it just hasn’t stopped. Here we are, 30 odd years later and the passion has never died.
GDK: We say it’s a passion, but some of us just have a passion, we ride our bikes. But you’ve taken it a little bit further than that, haven’t you?
GE: I’ve tried to take it further. I guess what I enjoy so much about it is seeing how other people enjoy themselves on the bike. I do the TREAD Skills Clinics in KZN. Myself and a good mate of mine. The enjoyment we get in seeing other people enjoying themselves on the bike is probably one of the best things that you can see, as a teacher. Giving skills to other people. That to me just makes it all that much sweeter.
It’s about your impart your knowledge
GDK: You did a tread skills course, you’re obviously very skilled as a rider in your own right. Where does one start with the skills clinics?
GE: You do have to have a bit of a technical background, that does help. But as Sean Badenhorst, who is the owner of the TREAD Skills Clinic, as he’s often pointed out, it’s not so much how you teach the skills. It’s how you impart your knowledge with that particular person that you are teaching the skills.
It’s in the way we teach and how it comes across. As opposed to yes, I could ride that drop off, or yes I could do that wheelie. It’s more about how you impart that knowledge with that person, that I think is so important to have. I think so many people could teach, but it’s how you teach that’s important.
GDK: I suppose there’s a tangible result because you can impart that knowledge and then see the person execute the discipline, whatever it might be.
GE: Absolutely, almost straight away. Often we have, especially here in KZN at Holla Trails, we’re blessed with an abundance of bridges, as you’ve figured out this morning. It’s probably one of our biggest things that we teach is how to go over a bridge. We could spend maybe 20 minutes with a person who has never ridden a bridge before and within 30 minutes, they could quite comfortably ride over a bridge. It’s instant.
How to help people get confident
GDK: What’s the biggest obstacle when someone is confronted with something they’ve never done before?
GE: Well, here at Holla, it’s definitely bridges. So people have a lot of fear of bridges, a fear of falling and hurting themselves really badly. That just comes with lack of confidence.
GDK: How do you teach confidence?
GE: I know a really good TREAD Skills Clinic! It’s with practice, and what I mean by practice is just riding your bike. We encourage people to come back to the areas that we’ve taken them out at Holla Trails and just keep riding. If you’re doing a big stage race like Sani2c, people focus so much on getting their fitness levels up, but they neglect their skills.
Skills is as important as fitness. Practice, practice, practice, that’s the only way to get confidence levels up, is to make sure that person understands what we’ve taught them. Then to come back out and practice, practice, practice, and keep practicing.
GDK: Who are you aiming your course at? Obviously there are novices, people who are just starting out in the game. Perhaps those who are pretty decent as you say, fit, but not technically skilled.
Who will benefit the most from the course
GE: Gerald, it’s aimed at anybody and everybody. You can never be too skilled. So, everybody from a novice rider that just wants to get their confidence level up, to guys that are winning their age categories and are at the sharp end of the race. I do believe that you should always be practicing your skills. It literally is for everybody.
GDK: Youngsters, the kids I suppose is where the biggest growth is and the biggest potential for growth because these are the kids who have no fear, don’t they? They’ll do anything, do you see that?
GE: All the time. I’m fortunate enough that I coach a couple of kiddies, it’s more guidance, I prefer to say ‘guidance’ than ‘coaching’ because for them it’s all about having fun. Those guys don’t know any fear. When you ask them to do something, they don’t even hesitate and they’ve done it in the blink of an eye.
GDK: You talk about coaching, as you’ve sort of alluded to, there’s a difference between training and coaching and skills. Training and riding long distance, getting the fitness levels and actually doing fitness programmes and also doing skills things. Do you do that side of it as well?
GE: I don’t at the moment. I would like to venture into it, especially on the kiddies side. Like I said, I’d prefer to offer more guidance as opposed to full on coaching at an early age. The competitive edge will come naturally as they get older.
GDK: How do you deal with the dynamic where the parent is a little bit reluctant to let their child do things or take on these challenges?
GE: I make the parents go away and have coffee! I take the kiddies off by themselves. Understandably, you can get hurt, but safety is always a priority. It’s one of the things that I take a really seriously and we make sure that safety comes first. We teach them about safety. Riding with your helmets all the time, long finger gloves, eyewear, these are all things that have to take priority before they can get crazy and silly on their bicycles.
More than just an MTB skills instructor
GDK: You’ve been doing this three years?
GE: I think it’s round about three years.
GDK: But you have another life don’t you?
GE: Unfortunately, yes. I do have a corporate job where I freelance. I was in a corporate job and now I’ve gone out on my own, I consult. But I like to do this as much as possible.
GDK: It’s an amazing thing, this mountain biking, all the little industries or businesses that are springing up around it.
GE: Absolutely, and I think that comes from being passionate about it. The more passionate you are about it, and it’s quite difficult to not want to do it and enjoy it. See other people enjoy it, that’s why we’re so passionate about it. I think if you can make a living out of doing something you love, wow, that’s a win-win situation.
GDK: You ride, you race. When you’re riding with a bunch of guys or racing, do you look at, can you help yourself in that respect?
GE: No, not really, I try not to crit because, it’s difficult. You don’t want to critique somebody, they don’t know who you are. Often I just, they’re just riding and enjoying themselves. Sometimes, who cares if they’re doing right or wrong.
They’re just enjoying themselves on the bike and sometimes that’s all that matters. In a race situation, if I see a fellow rider do something wrong, I might come up behind them and go: Hey, next time, why don’t you try this, see how you feel. So sometimes I might just do it on the sly.
GDK: There is a racing element to you isn’t there?
GE: Absolutely. I’m competitive by nature, so even when we’re fun riding with all the mates, there is that competitive edge that comes out in you. I think that’s just natural. You want to go faster, you want to beat your mate into that single track. You want a faster time, so yes, it’s definitely there.
The need for developing more skills
GDK: In this country we are obsessed with distance, with marathon, stage races and so on. There are places like at Holla Trails where you’re getting more and more single track, more technical stuff. So is there a high demand now for the coaching that you’re doing?
GE: I believe that there is, I also do believe that a lot of people, and this is my personal opinion, our KZN riders believe that they don’t need the skills. Because we are blessed with such variable terrain, more so here than in Jo’burg for instance. Our riders here are naturally challenged. Because of our terrain. Whereas in Jo’burg, they don’t have that available to them.
I think people are slowing coming around. When they see our clinics, if you come and do one of our courses, it really is an eye opener. Within the first half an hour, people are going; oh, wow, I did not see that or I didn’t understand that, or jeepers! Yes, there definitely is a place for it, there definitely is a need for it. Like I said before, people focus too much on fitness and not enough on skills.
GDK: So, where do we go, how do we find out, what’s the deal?
GE: www.treadskills.co.za, all the information is up on the website, here in KZN we try to do them once a month. A Confidence Clinic once a month and if need be, a Speed Clinic, if the demand is there. So there’s always a Skills Clinic going on.
GDK: Good luck with it, it’s fantastic, because it can only mean that we’re going to get more people enjoying riding these wonderful trails.
GE: Absolutely, a safer rider is a more confident rider and therefore they enjoy themselves so much more.
GDK: Gresham Enerson from KZN and a man who has a passion for mountain biking and imparts that passion and that knowledge and the skills to many others. So that they can have a similar passion and enjoyment of the sport.
After all, that’s what we want in mountain biking. Everyone to get out there and enjoy it with confidence. Thanks for downloading another edition of our Old Mutual Live Mountain Bike podcast, please do so again. Until then, cheers.