Skills for Red and Black trail centre routes

Stuck on Blue and Green trail centre routes? Here’s some expert tips that will take your riding to the next level.

>>> Britain’s best Red trails

Bike parks and trail centres are popping up all over the country and it’s easy to see why. They allow convenient access to the hills, have easy-to-follow, purpose-built trails, and you can progress through clearly marked terrain in a relatively safe environment. How do you know when you’re ready to step up a level though? And what are the qualifiers that will allow you to progress safely?


It’s always satisfying to see your riding progress, so don’t be afraid of being afraid! Even the best riders in the world have to have a word with themselves at times. It’s the satisfaction of staying calm and in control when the whole world around you is falling apart that draws so may of us to riding in the first place. Keep your head, relax, and don’t feel like there’s any pressure on you to go too far out of your comfort zone.


How consistent are you making it through, or over, the features that you already know? If you’re riding everything cleanly and smoothly, then the chances are you’ll react the right way when you start progressing on to features that you’ve never seen before. If you’re riding the same features every week, and only making it through by the skin of your teeth, then you might want to approach a new trail with caution.


Read and Black trail features are excellent for ‘sessioning’. meaning that you can ride them a few times before moving on. That way, the next time you encounter something similar, you’ll know exactly what to do. The best way to session something is to stop before you get to the obstacle and walk down it on foot. You can clearly see exactly what’s coming up and decide for yourself if you can handle the distance, drop or technicality before you get in to trouble. If you decide to give it a go then your first attempt will always be the hardest. Once you get a little more confident though, by your third or fourth go you should have a handle on it; meaning that every time you encounter the same feature again you’ll be rolling through it with the same confidence that you cleared it with the last time. Riders that just roll through and never go back up to do it cleanly often get stuck in a rut and never improve. Riders that get into the habit of sessioning obstacles always make the fastest progress.