BreakAway Rides developing the next generation of MTB kids

Kate Slegrova and Katja Steenkamp are keen mountain bikers and have spent countless hours in the saddle at mountain bike races in South Africa and overseas. Very close to their heart is the development of the next generation, and they have been offering kids specific skills workshops and mountain bike holiday camps for the past three years.

“We witness every week that children have the ability to pick up skills much faster than adults, and believe that the potential should be nurtured from a young age with regular practice,” says Katja.

All BreakAway Rides’ sessions are based on a weekly progression program where the coaches teach a specific set of techniques each week that follow on each other. These techniques are, correct gear selection, braking, weight distribution and bike mechanics, followed by various techniques on different terrain as well as obstacle riding through rock gardens and rooty terrain. Towards the end of the term they focus on wheel lifting and riding drops and jumps. Currently BreakAway Rides accommodate two different skills levels, however, there is a growing demand to add a ‘fitness’ component to the skills training.

Children that join BreakAway Rides throughout the year show tremendous improvement in skills as they benefit from the fine tuning of their riding techniques through repetitive practice.

Once a technique is mastered on a specific terrain, an uphill, downhill, sand, and rock challenge is added. The vast network of trails available to BreakAway Rides leave much space to play, although they prefer Meerendal and Bloemendal as most child friendly areas within accessible vicinity during the week.

The 3-Day Holiday workshops are very differently structured to the weekly rides. We touch on all areas covered during the term including fundamentals, cornering, obstacle riding, wheel lifting, and smaller jumps and drops. But it is less in-depth compared to the weekly training. Over the 3 days, we incorporate strength and core exercises to improve mobility and coordination, and add our own mobile course to simulate trail features (e.g. obstacle and ramps). The combination of coordination exercises off the bike and skills training on the bike is a great spectacle for the kids as we time each child to complete the course. The next workshop is scheduled for 3-5 July 2017.

“Safety and professional personal approach is very important to us at BreakAway Rides. We never take more than six kids per instructor, have a tab on the health history and all our instructors are first aid certified.”

Hannele Steyn joined BreakAway Rides in April 2017, notwithstanding the wealth of experience as a professional athlete, she has also been a skills and fitness coach for many years, as well as a qualified nutritionist. Her skill set, and professional background adds a special flavour to their programs. Over and above her active involvement in skills coaching, she is also involved in the continued improvement of the skills programs, assisting with the bike set up as well as providing nutritional advice to parents.