Glenrock junior mountain bike clinics just like a traditional team sport with fun and fitness

INSTRUCTIONS: Zac Rowland, left, and Sam Whipp, right, with Damien Enderby.
INSTRUCTIONS: Zac Rowland, left, and Sam Whipp, right, with Damien Enderby.

Mountain biking is rarely thought of as a team sport. Sometimes not even considered a sport at all.

But there’s a group of riders changing those views.

They hit some of the Hunter’s best trails every week, often in a group of 20-plus.

Damien Enderby and his wife, Jenny, run junior mountain bike clinics at Glenrock three days a week.

Both are qualified Mountain Bike Australia, Cycling Australia, Orienteering Australia and AustCycle coaches, as well as Fitness Australia qualified personal trainers. 

“We started a bit over four years ago,” Enderby said. 

“I always thought if everyone had to do what I did when I was a kid and teach yourself everything and take forever to learn the hard way, it would be a a lot easier to be able to have good coaching from a young age.”

TOGETHER: Participants at one of the mountain bike clinics before heading off on a ride. Pictures: Simone De Peak

TOGETHER: Participants at one of the mountain bike clinics before heading off on a ride. Pictures: Simone De Peak

His motivation to start the clinics came from the thrill of riding with friends as a kid, but it was something that didn’t evolve until his teenage years as not many kids were involved at a young age.

“I just wanted to work with the juniors from an early age and get them going onto a good start,” he said. “Doing it on your own growing up as a kid is good fun, but it’s definitely much better doing it with other mates.”

Eager to both develop kids’ skills and the sport as a whole, Enderby began running clinics at Glenrock. He reckons they’re not much different to traditional sports.

“As a kid to be able to ride with a group in one go, is much more fun and a much quicker way of learning and picking up the skills,” he said.

“There’s kids of all abilities and all ages there and at the start, the kids that rock up and are a little bit nervous, they realise there’s other kids there in the same boat.

“Before you know it, those kids are riding amazing.”

Glenrock is home to some of the Hunter’s best mountain-bike trails, but kids often don’t have the confidence or skill-levels to ride the area with their parents. The clinics are designed to develop the fundamentals of riding.

WHICH WAY: The group decides on a trail in Glenrock State Conservation Area.

WHICH WAY: The group decides on a trail in Glenrock State Conservation Area.

Enderby likens them to snow-school sessions when kids learn to ski. Once the skills are developed, families can enjoy it together.

“The biggest thing is we’ve made it a fun environment from the start,” Enderby said.

“It’s never to take kids there and train them to be world champions from an early age. It’s more about teaching them the skills to ride safely, get their confidence up and having fun.

Sessions start with a warm-up and bike check, followed by skills and a group ride.

Some kids eventually take up racing, whether it be in the cross-country, downhill or enduro discipline.

Samuel Whipp, 13, and Zac Rowland, 8, are two who have started racing. The pair finished second and third in a recent under-15 enduro race at Ourimbah.

Enderby said the clinics wouldn’t be possible without the ongoing trail maintenance from Glenrock Trail Alliance and National Parks.