Thank you

Welcome to ATG Training and thank you for visiting us today. If you are a new visitor, we hope you can find the information you are seeking. If your are a returning visitor you will notice a few changes to the site, which we hope you like. Over the coming weeks futher enhancements are due, so please come back from time to time to see the updates.

We now have dedicated sites for all the different markets. So those of you who have been following our cycle news, there is a new home for this at http://cycletraining.co/news/. Save this address to follow and contibute to the cycle industry.

We would love to hear your opinions so please use the feed back forms on the site to let us know what you think.

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tool of the week

This weeks tool of the week is the Hoover. okay so you’re probably thinking why I have chosen a hoover as my TOTW, but there is a good reason behind this, any of you out there that have an internally cable routed frame when it comes to changing the inner and outer cable you must wonder how to do this with ease, well hear’s your answer - the Hoover.

 The first step is to remove the old inner and outer cables from the frame, then get the new inner cable, some blue cloth and some Finish Line Wet Lube, place the blue cloth on a flat surface then create a line of wet lube across the blue  cloth, once that is done pick the blue cloth up making sure the wet lube faces upwards and run the inner cable across this keeping a tight grip across the whole cable. This is to insure that all of the manufacturers lube ( which is actualy Lanolin a form of pig fat ) is removed, and giving the inner cable a good smothering of lube.

The next step in to cut the correct length of outer cable, then tie a piece of string to the inner cable and start to feed the cable into the ICR whole. Then get your Hoover and place the nozzle end of the frame where the ICR while come out from, turn the hoover on but make sure you have hold of the other end of the cable. Once through turn the hoover off and pull the string/inner cable out of the hoover.

Once you have carried out those steps the next is to feed the outer cable through. place some wet lube into the end of both side of the inner cable ( this is to make sure the inner cable runs freely through the outer. Then simply feed the outer over the inner insuring you do not pull the inner cable out of the other side of the ICR.

And there you have it my TOTW makes what I think to be a hard job into an easy one :) Jules says it does a mean job of keeping the floor spic and span too!!

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Good employer engagement

Ian Harper - CEO ATG Training

Ian Harper

“It is vital to listen to employers and be able to adapt to their business needs. Commercial timescales can be unforgiving, so training programmes need to match them. The company needs to respond quickly when new opportunities present themselves, but it mustn’t sacrifice quality to get the business. However, it’s not enough to have responsive programmes. You must make sure that employers know what you are doing and are included in the success of their employees.”

Advice for others? “We used to assume that if we did a good job, businesses would use our training again. Stay in constant touch if you want repeat business.”

Ian Harper, Chief Executive of ATG Training

 

The good practice in detail


The recent inspection report praised ATG Training for its flexibility and responsiveness: “Programmes are flexible and effectively tailored to employers’ requirements. Cycle maintenance has excellent industrial links to major manufacturers, distributors, retail employers, and the awarding body, which provide learners with state-of-the-art materials and techniques and relevant, flexible qualifications. Childcare, retail and warehousing assessors accommodate shift patterns and business pressures well.” ‘Employer Journey’ provides a good overview of the company’s approach to employer engagement.

Providing accreditation for cycle mechanics with state-of-the-art equipment

Cytech training specialist

Mat Clark. ATG Training cycle mechanic training instructor

The ‘CYTECH’ programme was started by the Association of Cycle Traders, to provide a licence to practice for cycle mechanics. When they needed a partner to roll out the programme nationally, ATG Training  worked with them to integrate the certificate into a bespoke NVQ framework, providing funded accreditation and recognition for hundreds of otherwise-excluded learners all over the country.

Martin works in a specialist cycle shop in Salisbury and has a passion for bikes: “ATG Training  has really good equipment and the staff are very knowledgeable. I’m sure the CYTECH qualification and the NVQ will help my career”, he says. “I’ve learned such a lot on this course, and I’m determined to go on to Level 3 next.”

Matt - Cycle Apprentice

Matt - Cycle Apprentice

As the Business Development and Engagement Consultant for the Buckinghamshire Education Business Partnership, Vanessa King knows ATG well. She is impressed by their responsiveness and flexibility. “They listen to employers and adapt programmes to fit their needs”, she says. “They’re very flexible. Traditionally, when employers have asked us about apprenticeships, we have directed them to ATG because we know, from experience, that ATG will lead them through the process with clear explanations and minimum disruption. They make it easy for employees to gain a qualification.”

Training cycle mechanics for Tesco

Organising courses is straightforward when you control the timescale, but major employers like Tesco work to tight deadlines. ATG’s unique position within the cycle industry made it the first choice for Tesco when they needed training to start specialist cycle shops in their larger stores.

 
So, how did ATG change its way of working to meet Tesco’s needs?
 

Tescos cycles store

Tescos cycles store

“At Tesco, we are always looking for ways to serve our customers better”, says Vicky Wellings, the Technical Manager (Leisure). “The only choice we could offer for those purchasing a bike was a self-assembly option. We realised we needed to extend this offer, so we approached ATG to help us to train our staff to assemble bikes to the required safety standards. ATG staff are extremely flexible, helpful and friendly. They provided invaluable technical advice about setting up the courses which are delivered on our site. That is very important as our staff often have family responsibilities which would prevent them from staying away on a residential course. Sometimes our timescales are unpredictable and ATG Training change schedules to suit our commercial pressures. The staff enjoy their training and it’s enabled us to start our rolling programme to set up bike areas in some stores and separate bike shops in others. We now have a great choice for customers; self-assembly or assembly at our bike shops by fully trained staff.”

Dave Aimson

Dave Aimson

David Aimson manages the internal sales team at ATG Training. He is the link between Tesco and the cycle trainers. “Our bike team had plenty of experience of training people working in the bike industry, but this was different”, he says. “We had to start from scratch when no bike shops existed in Tesco. Previously they had sold boxed bikes, so our team had to advise on tools as well as training. ATG Training already had bike courses planned with students enrolled. Our staff were brilliant and with slight schedule changes and some overtime we met Tesco’s demand without detriment to any other customers.”

Flexible programmes that integrate employers’ specialist training

Apprenticeship models can seem rigid. It takes skill to make them fit for purpose for a specialist business. In 2007, a global manufacturer of medical electronics recruited the first cohort of engineering apprentices through ATG.

Engineering student

Engineering apprentice

The company’s second cohort has just begun an engineering apprenticeship with ATG Training. “ATG are so approachable, friendly and flexible”, says their training manager. “When I visit the Future Centre I’m welcomed as if I was part of the company. We enjoy visiting school careers days to get youngsters interested in the equipment. We know about our product, but we aren’t educationalists. In the past, most of our recruits were experienced adults. We needed a partner to help us to recruit, select and train young people, and ATG has made it easy for us.” Planning the programme was a learning curve for both partners. ATG added some key elements to the package, such as training in computer network systems, to ensure that learners got the right technical background. They also spoke to the awarding body to propose revisions to the framework to match current working practices.

The employer is particularly pleased about how the corporate training is integrated into the scheme of work. “We come into the centre every Friday to deliver specialist courses, such as bespoke Health and Safety, which means that apprentices can go out on site with their mentors as soon as they finish their six-week block.” He is proud of the new employees. “They have a fresh outlook and they’ve learned excellent skills. We had 160 applicants for 10 places this time, and we’re sure that ATG Training has selected the ‘cream of the crop’ for us!”

Extending the model to a wider remit

It can be challenging to tackle new subject areas, but this approach translates well into other provision. Whilst apprenticeships are mandatory for engineers, retail workers often have poor access to training. ATG’s new partnership with ‘Performance through People’ (PTP) provides opportunities for local supermarket workers. The inspection report recognised a strength in the way that the retail programme met the employer’s needs:  ATG Training meets employers’ needs very well (according to an Ofsted report).

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Be faster on a bike pt 2

Be faster on a bike.

Can you think yourself fast?

In the last article of ‘Be faster on a bike’ we looked at making ourselves more aerodynamic in order to get those precious few seconds or watts. In this article I would like to look into becoming faster without even being on the bike, by focusing on the mental aspects of riding and looking at different thought techniques that we can use to improve our riding and ultimately go faster.

The Human brain is an amazing bit of kit. Used correctly it enables us to do great things, but used incorrectly it is a big hindrance, stopping us from reaching our full potential.

I will talk about the CONSCIOUS and the SUB-CONSCIOUS types of thought (or explicit and implicit memory types)

The conscious / explicit capacity of your brain is very small in comparison to the sub conscious. It can only hold so many thoughts at once. When you first learnt to ride a bike it took all of your concentration to be able to turn the pedals whilst keeping your balance by making minute adjustments to your handlebars and body positioning. You CONSCIOUSLY had to think about each of these movements and it was difficult because there was a lot of things to think about doing. You were using your explicit memory to its full capacity.

Now you will be able to ride a bike now without having to think about all the tiny movements required to keep yourself upright – you have honed your skill to such a degree that it has become an automatic process. This has been done by repeated practice – all the hours in the saddle from when you first learnt to ride as a youngster. You can ride the bike SUB CONCIOUSLY. As your brain has learnt to ride a bike it has moved the thoughts required from the explicit (small holding) memory bank into the implicit (large holding) memory bank to free up more space in the explicit memory. This is a bit like zipping up folders on a laptop to free up more space on your desktop.

So, with the explicit side of the memory bank a little less crammed, we can think about things like line choice, scanning traffic to check for potential danger, looking at our computers to check our speed and scanning the bunch to decide whose wheel you should be on for example.

So how can this help us ride faster? Well, the brain finds it hard to distinguish between when we actually ride and when we replay the ride in our head. Which means we can practice the perfect ride any time we choose, day or night. Take a downhill racer in the build up before his race run. You will see them, eyes shut deep in thought. They are VISUALISING their perfect run. Every rock, root, drop and berm is being played out in their mind in glorious techni-colour. They are piloting their bike down the track without actually even spinning a crank in anger. They are committing the run to their implicit memory in order to have the maximum explicit memory space to allow them to push as fast as they can.

Now, this is only part of the process. For the Visualisation to have maximum effect, the ‘mind run’ must be perfect. Every corner cleaned, drop nailed and jump cleared. No NEGATIVE thoughts must be allowed to enter the process. If you visualise that you will case a jump or blow out a berm, odds are you probably will. You have programmed that thought to happen and the mind has a funny way of making things that it thinks are going to happen come true. How many times have you felt anxious about a wet road corner or a rooty off camber section and thought “I could come a cropper there” and when you do you think “I knew that was going to happen!” Well, You only have yourself to blame, Litterally!

A much better way to look at the situation is to recognise the danger (slippery tarmac corner / rock drop etc) and imagine yourself clearing the obstacle, confidently and in control. Then, whaddya know? You clear the obstacle, confidently and in control. Going back and doing it again reinforces the knowledge that you have the ability to do it and the more you do it, the more you commit the thought to the implicit memory allowing it to become ‘second nature’ and going on to conquer steeper / higher / faster stuff. Ever wonder why the top athletes can be so arrogant? Well, I wouldn’t think of it as arrogance, more extreme confidence in their ability. A boxer can’t go into a ring thinking “he is going to hit me and I might get knocked out” because in effect he will have already lost the fight. So he will approach the fight thinking “I am going to take this sucker DOWN!” having already fully visualised winning the fight and taking the spoils of victory.

When is the best time to practice visualising? Well, for a visualisation to have maximum effect you must be very relaxed. Not easy to do in todays busy society. My advice is to practice your perfect ‘mind run’ just before you are about to nod off, be it in the sofa or tucked up in bed. Better still if you wake up in the night and find yourself in that drifty sleep / awake state, this is a perfect time to practice as the SUB CONCIOUS side of your mind will be more receptive to your visualisations. Imagine everything going right and ‘see’ the ride with the brightest colours, the loudest noises and ‘feel’ every bump and turn. Imagine yourself taking victory or setting your fastest time. You will need to visualising often as doing it just once won’t necessarily reap any benefits.

Another tip I often employ when actually out riding, is to imagine myself on Euro-sport, with the commentators speaking about me. “He’s pushing hard on this climb” “with this sort of form he looks unstoppable!” it often helps me up and through those nasty climbs or down the tricky descents. Also when I do my sprint training (and this really hurts) I imagine that I will be rewarded with something like a Ferrari, or ten thousand pounds, but only if I give it every last drop of effort. Ok, it’s an empty incentive, but it makes me push hard!

I like the way Jens Voigt told his legs to “Shut up!” this is a way that he was telling his brain not to feel the burning in his legs, letting him go further and faster for longer.

Can you think yourself faster? Damn right you can and it takes no physical effort! Get practicing!!

Next time we’ll look at how ‘You are what you eat’ in an effort to give you more speed.

Jules.

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Be faster on a bike

Be Faster on a bike.

Julian ‘Jules’ Thrasher

We all want to ride our bikes faster. But the pursuit of speed can be fraught with pot holes of bad advice or, worse still, no advice at all!

 Does buying the latest design of Aero bike instantly make you faster? Can you think yourself fast? Does fitness really matter if you are riding Downhill?  I want to explore these questions and more in my quest to make you faster on a bike. I want to offer you clear guidance and simple tips that I have learnt over my years of riding. The advice will not focus on one type of riding in particular, as I myself ride both Mountain Bikes and Road bikes, the advice given in these blog posts will reflect this. I am also armed with a rather apt surname with which to tackle this subject…

So, let’s in no particular order have a look at being fast on a bike. I would like to start with the Aero debate.

Being Aerodynamic is the new cycling hot potato and rightly so. Wind resistance (aerodynamic drag) is the biggest factor to consider when looking to go faster. Try cycling into a head wind and you’ll expend as much energy for a fraction of the speed.

But do you have to spend vast amounts on the latest kit to be aero? It’s something the big name companies would like you to think so. With bikes coming out from all the big name players all claiming to ‘out-aero’ each other, how can those of us without the deep pockets required to invest in such beasts be aero without them?

I believe that most of the aero gains to be had on a bike come from the rider themselves. I always marvel at the fact that I can overtake those who are pedalling downhill on the road by simply tucking my arms and legs in and ‘chewing’ on the stem. In certain instances I have looked (briefly) at my computer to see my speed go up when tucked and then go down when I move up (slightly) to start to pedal! Experiment with your position whilst out riding. For sure, the biggest gains will be seen when travelling downhill where the speeds are higher, but don’t forget that they can be applied on the flats too.

Look at the pro-tour riders when they are descending. Some of them have really scary looking positions to tuck themselves out of the way of the wind which will require a good deal of flexibility not to mention a large helping of bravery to achieve. For me the best position is to place my hands in the crook of the drops (just underneath the hoods) move my bum onto the back of the saddle and get my head as close to the stem as I can whilst tucking my elbows and knees into my body and the bike frame respectively. Please note that your head must be looking forward, firstly for the obvious reason that colliding with a parked car you have not seen will ruin your average speed (and perhaps life) and that although you may not feel the wind as much in this position, you will be exposing more of the helmet to the wind, increasing your drag.

This may not be a position that feels comfortable at first. My advice is to work on your flexibility through stretches. Find a wooden chair that has a back about shoulder width and grasp it near the seat from the back. You will have to bend down quite a way to do this, but your hands will offer support (much like they do when you are on the drops) the key to good stretching is to undertake the stretch when the muscles are warm (so after a ride is perfect). Do not stretch to the point of pain. Do not ‘bounce’ the stretch. Breathe slowly and deeply and hold the stretch for as long as you can. Stand up from the stretch slowly and avoid any sudden movements. Also try looking up to the ceiling and down to the floor. This will help to increase the range of mobility in your neck muscles.

So what about being aerodynamic on the flat sections of a ride? How can we achieve this? I’d like you to look at Mark Cavendish’s position during sprinting. Not only does he have an amazing capacity for a savage increase in speed, he is also able to do it in a position that is more aero than many of his competitors, meaning that the watts he produces are not sacrificed as freely to the aero gods.

The key to this is to balance the speed you can pedal to the aero effect. Not easy this and requires practice (it is worth my while pointing out that there are various companies offering to do this with fancy software and high end ‘turbo’ trainers, which is great, I would definitely have a go with one – if I could afford it! Watch this space…) To work out your ‘wind effort’ as I am going to call it, you will need a computer and a slightly downhill, long straight section of road. Go as fast as you can sat down pedalling. Make a mental note of your speed. Then get into your tuck position. Again make a note of your speed. Now try to pedal in the tuck position. Does your speed go up or down? You are looking to see your speed go up. If it goes down, then work on your position until you can get a happy medium. This will take practice and you will need to vary your position for differing road situations.

Don’t forget that aero gains can be had wherever you choose to place your hands on the handlebars, just ensure those elbows and knees are tucked firmly in!

If money allows I would recommend you invest in a good set of aero wheels. Yes they can be a bit of a sod in cross winds, but when you get a tail wind that comes in just to one side ‘pushing’ the rim, the gains are amazing. The wheel acts like a sail and gives you an extra turn of speed. Plus they sound damn cool when you get them up to speed!

Tri bars? Yes – if you can afford them. They will allow you to tuck your arms in even more presenting less frontal area to the wind. Just make sure they are set up properly and that you USE THEM!! I am sick and tired of the amount of people I see / overtake who don’t. Ditch them and save the weight!!

Clean your bike!! Your bike needs to be super slippery through the air, being covered in grit and road grime won’t help your need for speed. Make sure cables are routed nicely and tied together where possible to prevent less of the bike being in the airs way.

If you are a mountain biker new to road then don’t even think about wearing baggies. You might as well strap a parachute to your back…

Don’t want to shave your arms and legs? Invest in some arm and leg warmers to keep the wind from getting stuck in your manliness (so to speak) just make sure you don’t overheat on a hot day!!

When you have tried all of these THEN and only THEN will you be allowed to consider that spangly new aero bike…

Join me next time when we will explore more speed making secrets!!

Jules.

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Dirty weekend for the workshop!

Back when the nights were long, the weather warm and the trails dusty, we planned a workshop weekend away at a trail centre. More specifically, the trail centre at Afan forest Wales.

Everything was in place.The accomodation had been booked, Simon had loaded the bikes into the van, kit and people were loaded into the car and the weather… well, let’s just say that howling winds and heavy rain wasn’t really what we had hoped for! But we are a hardy bunch, so the prospect of some muddy trails didn’t bother us too much, as someone famous once said “there’s no such thing as the wrong weather – only the wrong clothes” and we’d packed for that…

We drove down from ATG Trainings Aylesbury base after work on Friday with myself Mat and Alex in my car and Simon and Gerrard in the van. Highlights were the Gingerbread Latte at Leigh Delamare services and Mat almost blowing chunks whilst map reading on a windy Welsh road.

Alex (Brown) was waiting for us with a freshly made spaghetti bolognaise and a few freshly cracked beers which cheered everyone up and despite a chiding from the lodges’ owner for having too many people, all was well with the word. A couple of MTB DVDs to get us ready for the next days riding and it was time for bed.

Saturday morning dawned grey and miserable, so after a couple of strong cups of Tea and rounds of Toast, helmets were donned, rain jackets zipped up and bikes given that last fettle before we headed out.

The first (and only given its 44km length) was the W2 trail, a combination of the legendary ‘Whites Level’ and ‘The Wall’ trails. To get to the trail head was a stretch of surfaced disused railway which was a nice warm up for the climb that followed. I really like the climb, it goes on for ages, but is technical enough to hold your interest so that you don’t realise how much elevation you have gained.

A nice break was had at the top of the climb and we took the chance to play on the first few berms of the black run descent which was our reward for the pain of that first climb. When everyone had re-grouped we hit the descent, which although it is graded as ‘Black‘ is more of a ‘Red‘ grade. It comprises some nice berms, board walks and a rock garden towards the end and there were some big smiles when we reached the bottom of the descent. These smiles became worried frowns as we waited for Gerrard to arrive. Just as we were thinking of calling the Welsh air ambulance service Gerrard arrived pushing his bike through the final rock garden having binned it off of one of  the boardwalk sections and lost his confidence. Selfishly he had decided to crash where no one else had been able to witness it, but we let him off on this occassion as he had a comedy crash coming onto the fire road later on for all to see.

After a breif bit of blazing our own trail to detour round a fallen tree, we reached the half way trail centre and stopped to have copius ammounts of Tea, flapjack, chips and cheese sarnies. It was said Cheese sarnie and flapjack that were almost seen on the next part of the ride as Simon and I stormed away up the second longest climb of the day. SImon definately had the legs on me and spurred on by the Euro guys in lcra just up ahead (and going for it) he span away from me to bridge the gap. I lost him as I was trying to hold back the flapjack and as I turned of onto a singletrack part of the climb he was nowhere to be seen, so believing he had a big lead on me, I pressed on and completed the ride on my tod. As it turned out, Simon had missed the turning, ridden all the way up the fire road, realised he was lost and road all the way back to the main bunch and the turning! Gutted!

Much beer and wine was consumed that evening and Alex B got his MasterChef hat on and cooked up a lovely indian dish which satiated our grumbling stomachs.

Sunday morning was the same as Saturdays, Dull and wet, but we pressed on to conquer ‘Skyline’ the shortened loop. SImon and I had fresh(ish) legs and hammered away from the group up the first climb, stopping halfway up to remove the rain jackets, and again at the top to put them back on again. At the top of the ridge it was exposed and the rain was whipping in as we hit the first rocky descent.

A shortcut has to be made along a section called ‘the July trail’ to shorten the Skyline loop and we got a bit discombobulated taking a rather miserable slow and boggy section through to the top of the final descent of the ride ‘Jetlag’ for me the best descent of the ride, nice and fast with rock drops and rollers. Perfect!

With brake pads cooked and legs and arms fried, we coasted back to the lodge and cleaned up ready for the journey home. When everyone was ready and the vehicles loaded we said our farewells and headed back tired but very happy.

Can’t wait ’til Triscombe!!

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Juice (lube) me up!!

Product of the week!

Suspension units need to be well looked after and serviced in accordance with the manufacturers specifications in order to keep them factory plush. We all know this right?

One of the products you can use AFTER EACH AND EVERY RIDE to keep the dust wiper seals from becoming to draggy and to reduce the applicable stiction that this causes (resulting in a slow and stutter fork – with possible foam wiper ring damage) is the (incredible) Fork Juice from Juice Lubes.

Using Fork Juice also prevents dirt from sticking to the stanchions reducing the chance of them becoming scratched and drawing muck into the expensive internal workings.

Juice Lubes themselves confirm that this is not ‘a fork service in a can’ but will help to prolong the useable life of the fork.

To quote from the back of the can “as the single most expensive component on your bike it makes sense to lubricate your suspension – after all, you wouldn’t ride your bike without lubing the chain would you?”

Fork Juice can also be used to prep your bike for a muddy ride – spray onto the downtube to prevent the horrible build up of cack that will inevitably happen at this time 364 days a year here in the UK.

The only pre-requisite for use is to ensure that you wipe of any existing dirt and grime before application (oh and keep it well away from your disc rotors and pads…)

A top product of the week, if you don’t have some in your workshop, go buy some today!!!

Check out www.juicelubes.co.uk for more info, and a big thanks to Will from Velo Brands for kindly sorting us with a big box of Juice Lubes FOC for use on our Cytech L3 suspension courses. Top work!

If you’d like to find out more about suspension care and servicing procedures – book yourself onto one of our L3 suspension courses here at ATG-Training pronto!!

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