BELLA VISTA — Blowing Springs may be a little more crowded than usual with a group of mountain biking students developing their skills this weekend.
The skills camp, scheduled for Saturday and Sunday, is hosted by Mojo Cycling and Single Track Skills, a mountain bike training company run by Alabama resident Lon Cullen.
Cullen said he’s looking forward to visiting Arkansas and he tries to teach at Blowing Springs yearly. It’s a great park with wonderful scenery that reminds him of growing up in the Ozarks, he added.
He’s been a mountain biking instructor for five years and riding bikes in one form or another for about 45 years, he said. He’s a former hospice chaplain and was a pastor before that, he added.
The first day is suitable for strong beginners — someone who can ride a beginner-level trail at a moderate pace — and up, he said, and the second day will be a better fit for intermediate to advanced riders.
Riders of any skill level can benefit from training, he said, because anyone, regardless of how long they’ve been riding, has room to improve.
“Because the basics are the basics for every level of rider, it’s for all levels,” he said. “Nobody knows it all, so no matter how good somebody is, they can always get better.”
Often, he said, experienced but untrained riders will be doing some fundamentals incorrectly.
A very common fault, for example, is riders sitting too far back, with their arms fully extended to avoid going over the bars, he said. This position puts more weight over the back wheel and would reasonably prevent that, but in some circumstances can result in a rider getting launched over the bars even harder, he said.
Building these skills doesn’t just make a rider faster or make runs more satisfying, but helps keep riders safe, he explained.
“So many wrecks on bikes, they don’t have to happen,” Cullen said.
Sometimes a very minor adjustment is all it takes to keep the bike on its wheels and, by extension, the rider’s face out of the dirt, he said.
Accidents still happen and mountain biking can still be dangerous, but building skills can mitigate that danger, he added.
Anyone who wants to sign up can do so at Cullen’s website, https://www.singletrackskills.bike.
Keith Bryant may be reached by email at [email protected] .