The BASE Mountain Biking course offered by Borders College via Dirt School is celebrating a decade of helping riders pursue a career in bikes.
Originally built on the football academy model, BASE Mountain Biking gives the rising stars of mountain biking a qualification in their pocket should a riding career not work out.
The course celebrates a decade of coaching the next generation of mountain bike stars this year.
We’re now in our tenth year of running the Borders Academy of Sporting Excellence (BASE) Mountain Biking Performance course in partnership with Borders College. When we started back in 2009, we only had a small group of five students enrolled on the course, but our numbers rapidly increased from year to year and we now coach 24 riders on a weekly basis.
The idea for the Borders Academy of Sporting Excellence (BASE) was originally adapted from a Premier League Football arrangement where players that were doing an apprenticeship with a professional team were given the opportunity to gain an academic qualification through a local college while they gained valuable experience with the club.
That way if their career in football didn’t work out they had an academic platform to fall back on. With Borders College delivering the academic qualification, Dirt School plays the part of the professional team.
You can join the course in first year and study an SCQF Level 6 qualification, then progress on to the HNC and HND courses, whilst all the time working on the technical aspects of your riding two days a week with Dirt School. We have a set syllabus that we take the riders through that starts with body position, how they push back into jumps and how they corner, and goes right through to goal setting in competition. We call it Technical/Tactical.
Our 3rd year students have also just went through their Mountain Bike Coaching UK (MBCUK) Technical Trail Leader (TTL) award, so are now qualified to lead and coach groups themselves.
Over the last ten years, we’ve had 100+ students come through the course with a number of them going on to be professional riders. Greg Williamson, Lewis Buchanan, Luke Cryer and Reece Wilson are just a few of the students that have been through BASE. Others have gone on to further their education at universities, or travelled to places like Canada, New Zealand and the Alps. Some of them now run businesses in rope access and media, and all of them are better developed adults as a result of applying the BASE attitude and culture to the rest of their lives.
Whilst the BASE course does have an element of performance in sport, this doesn’t mean we’re only looking for top level performers – we’re looking for keen riders who are motivated, willing to learn and would like to see their riding skills improve throughout the year.
We’re firm believers in adventure learning – a lot of students who come to us may not normally have chosen an academic pursuit, but by giving them the opportunity to learn through a sport they love they leave us with valuable life skills that can be applied to any further education or career path they choose to embark on.
So, why not dedicate one to three years of your life to your sport and come away with a qualification at the end of it all?