We look to health in an holistic way, championing the need for both physical and mental health to be considered as equally important. This is something Scottish Government’s Mental Health Strategy also looks to and something we wholeheartedly support. Those with poor physical health are at greater risk of developing a mental health condition and/or exacerbating a current one. Conversely, mental ill health increases the risk of physical ill health and so the corner stone of all our health projects is the integration of these two health pillars.
Importantly, it is also about inclusion, we want people from all walks of life to be able to access mountain biking if they want to. We passionately believe a mountain biking community culture that embraces and welcomes diversity is a healthy one creating an amazing platform for innovation and lending a wealth of perspectives that will leave us all the richer.
Our projects below are supported by the Scottish MTB Health Fund. If you can, please consider donating so we can continue to develop these amazing projects and continue to improve lives through mountain biking.
A Trail Therapy Participant
The opportunities for people to have conversations not over a table, not face to face with a councillor or a therapist, not a clinical environment, but out on a bike side by side is amazing. There's no white eye contact, it's not threatening, it's informal and sometimes that's the best kind of therapy we've got, you know.
Trail Therapy is our programme that looks to use mountain biking, to support those experiencing mental ill health. Independently evaluated we know it can be truly transformational for folk who come to us, and folk come to us through the NHS, by self-referrals or through third sector organisations.
We are delighted to now have two Trail Therapy 'hubs' in Scotland. One at Comrie Croft with the support of the amazing Emily and the other up near Aviemore through Cairngorm Confidence Outdoors, delivered by the wonderful Sarah. This is in addition to the programmes being delivered by our Trail Therapy Lead Paul, based in Perthshire (night rides) and in Dundee led by our experienced Trail Therapy volunteer Joe.
So how did these hubs come about? We realised early on that Trail Therapy would need to be supported through Hubs, able to manage the programme in-house, independent to us raising funding.
We would like to thank Trek Bicycles for their sponsorship of Trail Therapy which helps with core funding and marketing.
All programmes are delivered using money you donate through the Scottish MTB Health Fund or from external funding – we really couldn’t do it without your support! Thank you!
There is no core funding for Trail Therapy, all programmes are delivered using money you donate through the health fund or from external funding – we really couldn’t do it without your support! Thank you!
2023 has been the year to test the hub model, starting with the development of the DMBinS MTB Trail Therapy Practitioner Course. The course is rigorous. Held over 4 days it consists of a blend of classroom learning, practical outdoor lessons, and a final assessment where participants deliver an MTB Trail Therapy session using the FLOW™ Therapy System.
Participants come from a diverse range of backgrounds including professional MTB coaches and guides, teachers, Mental Health Nurses, and Wellbeing Champions.
They all must be qualified mountain bike leaders, some will be coaches too, all will have shadowed Trail Therapy sessions, be qualified physical and mental health first aiders (or will evidence appropriate prior learning), and will have gone through the Child Wellbeing and Protection Training.
The course itself has been evaluated by those working within the mental health industry and feedback has been extremely positive.
Trail Therapy Practitioner Course attendee
This is the best training course that I have ever been on, and I truly feel a different person for attending. I have always doubted myself and been anxious in groups but I was encouraged to just be me and I could deliver to my full potential and leave having confidence in myself and have learned new skills for life, plus meeting the most amazing group of people. Thank you.
Trail Therapy Practitioner Course attendee
Importantly, the DMBinS MTB Trail Therapy Lead, Paul McFarlane, will continue to support and mentor the newly qualified Practitioners as MTB Trail Therapy is expanded across Scotland. If you are interested in becoming a practitioner and/or a hub, please send an expression of interest to our Christine and we will keep you up to date with up coming course dates in 2024.
Research by Edinburgh Napier University demonstrates the positive benefits of using mountain biking as a way to connect with nature and improve mental health.
The results from this qualitative evaluation provide important insights into the impact of Trail Therapy through interviews with participants and mountain bike leaders involved in delivering the programme.
The emergent themes and categories identified within the research show the unique combination of physical, psychological, social, and natural challenges that are inherent within an MTB therapy approach. These interrelated challenges shape the riders’ experiences on the programme and sit at the centre of what makes it effective.
For further detail of the evaluation read our blog and / or listen to our podcast with Dr Lesley Ingram-Sills below.
This year we welcomed a new Tutor into our Tutor MTB Delivery team – Aneela McKenna - Diversity Dynamo, Chair of British Cycling's D&I Advisory Group, Partner & MTB guide & coach of @gowherescotlandmtb, and Founder of Mòr Diversity! This brings the number of qualified women Tutors in Scotland to just 2. We know that there is still along way to go in terms of representation for those under-represented within our Tutor pool, but every time we introduce a new Tutor we create space for others to be inspired.
2023 also saw us deliver the first in what we hope will be a more regular course that looks to raise awareness and confidence in leaders and tutors when working with those who are physically disabled.
For way too long this community has not had the support it should when it comes to mountain biking and with the help of those with lived experience, Craig from Experience Community and Neil from the Adaptive Riders Collective, we hope to help more folk get into mountain biking through CPD opportunities for leaders and Tutors led by those with the greatest experience and knowledge. Please watch our short film below for more details on this.
With a new Coaching framework, refreshed leadership principles across all awards and the support of the most amazing community 2024 could well be the most exciting year ever and we look forward to you joining us! Bring it on!
We know that there is still a long way to go in terms of representation for those under-represented within our Tutor pool, but every time we introduce a new Tutor we create space for others to be inspired.
This short film exploring how our MTB Health Programme manager, Dr Christine Fox, with Craig Grimes from Experience Community, are working on the Fundamentals of Mountain Bike Leadership Awards course to train mountain bike leaders to help more disabled riders experience the trails.
At DMBinS we strongly believe in the power of leaders, both within their field, such as Craig, and in our communities, such as the thousands of mountain bike leaders across Scotland.
We know that by empowering them to understand and be more comfortable leading adapted rides will help inspire them to create more opportunities to get more disabled riders to enjoy the thrill of mountain biking and all the benefits that brings to physical and mental health.
Thanks again to the following who this film and pilot would not be possible:
- Craig at Experience Community - find out more about their work here - http://www.experiencecommunity.co.uk/
- Able2Adventure - Access Mhor Cairngorms - find out more about their work here - https://able2adventure.co.uk/access-m...
- Our partners and friends who support our current work in mountain bike leadership - British Cycling, Scottish Cycling, Scottish Government, and sportscotland.
We feel strongly that we can have a role to play in supporting people to become happier and healthier through mountain biking. It's a passion that comes from our own experiences, supported by research confirming that if we combine immersive, social and physical activity, authentic positive risk-taking and being in nature, it can be life changing.
When it comes to supporting more people to get on their bikes and give it a try, or even to develop skills to enable them to go further and experience wilder places safely we have an amazing network of mountain bike leaders in Scotland.
These leaders are trained and assessed by our fabulous Tutors, a small number of highly trained individuals who deliver our Leadership Awards from the Fundamentals of Mountain Bike Leadership through to Level 2 and the Level 3 Leadership Awards.
DMBinS, Scottish Cycling and British Cycling work in partnership to create and continue to develop new mountain bike leadership awards and to respond to the changing outdoor educational landscape to ensure the British Cycling Awards reflect the best of adventure leadership teachings. A refreshed take on leadership across all of the British Cycling Leadership Awards started with the introduction of the Fundamentals of Mountain Bike leadership with its principles coming from Transformational Leadership Theory, made easily accessible the Vision, Support Challenge Model. We are now looking to expand this model at Level 2 and Level 3 supporting deeper reflection on the influences on leadership and leadership behaviours ensuring that transformational Leadership is the Golden Thread front and foremost across all of our awards. Not only that, but this is a model being used across many other outdoor adventure sport awards so we are now all talking the same language!
It's super exciting, supporting those folk who aspire to become mountain bike leaders and role models, working as we do with British Cycling and our network of Tutors who, in training new leaders directly support others to get out into nature, get (more) active, explore more, adventure more, get social and have fun in a safe way! Through some bespoke training and mentoring, we have also encouraged more women into mountain bike leadership through the Rider2Leader programme. With the support of Emma from Glenmore Lodge, Emily from Comrie Croft and Aneela of Mor Diversity we have delivered some amazing weekends looking to encourage more women into mountain bike leadership, building confidence and upping the level of technical skill (when needed) to ensure more women engage with the mountain bike leadership programme.
So, if you have ever had an inkling that mountain bike leadership could be for you, maybe you want to help those making their first foray into mountain biking, or maybe supporting those with a desire to upskill and explore, to leave their comfort zone in a safe, supportive and fun way, or even if you would like to enable more folk from within your community, a community you feel is underrepresented but could benefit so much from what mountain biking can offer, then check out the two levels you can get started in your leadership journey below, or you can either go directly to our Tutors, or simply get in touch with us with any questions. We’d love to hear from you!
And for those of you intrigued by the Rider2Leader programme, check out our socials in the new year as we look to put in place a brand new programme, with a great new format!
You may also like
The largest of the UK’s national parks, the Cairngorms is made up of over 4,500sq km of un-spoilt countryside, has 5 of the UK’s 6 highest…
#thinkWINTER - Night Riding
Beyond Bikes - A COLLECTION OF FILMS CELEBRATING THE POWER OF SCOTTISH MOUNTAIN BIKING
Dave Evans - DMBinS UK Trail Project Manager
SUPPORT SCOTTISH MOUNTAIN BIKING!Become a Supporter