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SMBLA - TCL/MBL Qualification

The Northern MonkeyThe Northern Monkey Posts: 19,174
edited May 2010 in MTB general
Just wondering if anyone has done the above?

Sounds quite interesting... If I can up my fitness a bit I might be willing to take it on.
Would be nice to have it along side my Nutrition/Sport Science Degree!

Thanks in advance.


  • I've done them both. Very good qualifications I think. I went into it fully expecting not to learn much, having been biking for a long time and being pretty good at navigation but was totally surprised. I guess it'll depend on the tutor, I did mine with Jules Fincham of cyclewild scotland and it was ace! We also got shown some hidden wee trails round Aviemore that I didn't know about despite living near there for most of my life!

    You don't need that much fitness I don't think. We rode for maybe 4-5hrs but some people were dying by the end of it and it wasn't held against them! Technical level... I think that we rode the Black at Laggan on our MBL training course and were told that if we had to walk more than one or two bits that wouldn't be good. The MBL qualification was some nadgery stuff round Aviemore of a similar difficulty. I almost failed my course there because I was having so much fun and blasting along that I forgot to keep track of where I was on the map!

    Hope that helps. Speak to Jules if you are thinking of doing the course up there and he'll talk you through everything you want to know.
  • stevomcdstevomcd Posts: 37
    Yes, I hold the SMBL award.

    Fitness isn't the biggest thing to worry about to be honest. The riding side of the course is more about bike skills. As well as being able to ride technical descents (and climbs) to a decent standard, you're expected to be able to demonstrate and teach a lot of "set" bike skills - e.g. manuals, wheelies, drop-offs, bunny-hops, etc.

    The TCL is pretty straight-forward if you're already a regular mountain biker. I'd recommend going and doing the training for that right away. You'll get good feedback from the trainer on whether or not you're ready to sit the assessment right away and where you're at in terms of moving on to MBL.
    Mountain bike holidays in the French Alps -
  • stevomcdstevomcd Posts: 37
    Can highly recommend Jules as well!

    One thing I meant to mention on the fitness point - my assessor (not Jules, had to go elsewhere due to availability) had us doing our technical riding test (i.e. where he actually went ahead and looked at us closely while riding some technical stuff) right at the end of a long ride, where we'd been carrying monster leader packs all day. He was quite open about it as it's a check of both your fitness and whether or not you can still ride well when knackered!
    Mountain bike holidays in the French Alps -
  • Great, thanks for the replies chaps!

    one thing thats got me a tad confused though... do you have to do the first aid course before you can do the TCL/MBL?

    Its not made very clear on the website!
  • stevomcdstevomcd Posts: 37
    You can do the course before doing a first-aid course but your qualification will not be valid and you won't be issued with your pass certificate until you provide the evidence that you've completed first-aid training.
    Mountain bike holidays in the French Alps -
  • stevomcdstevomcd Posts: 37
    I almost failed my course there because I was having so much fun and blasting along that I forgot to keep track of where I was on the map!

    I damn near failed mine on nav as well, which would have been highly embarassing considering I'd recently passed my ML (involving navigating in the dark to very small features on the cairngorm plateau - in the snow!). My excuse is that I'd managed to do a factory re-set on my bike computer while clipping it to its mount as the assessment started!
    Mountain bike holidays in the French Alps -
  • stumpyjonstumpyjon Posts: 4,069
    I'm off on the TCL course this weekend. Not sure when I'll be doing the assessment though and we've still got to go through the First Aid training. We're off to Whinlatter and will be doing the course through Cyclewise.

    I've been dead lucky, the Gisburn Forest partnership is paying for all my fees :D
    It's easier to ask for forgiveness than for permission.

    I've bought a new bike....ouch - result
    Can I buy a new bike?...No - no result
  • x-islex-isle Posts: 794
    Don't forget to look at the MIAS qualification, very similar to the Scottish one, but is based in England/Wales.

    It's also a recognised qualification by ABC/NVQ and I believe it was the first that was copied by SMBLA, but I could be wrong on that one.

    Either way, one of the courses are worth having.
    Craig Rogers
  • Steve, I did my nav test early on and it involved finding a tiny deer track which you had to pass over featureless heather to find the start of. I got it fine (maybe a bit of luck) and then relaxed on the navigation stuff. Then we did this amazing descent at the end of a 5 or 6hr cycle, totally fantastic stuff, and I was going for it. Then Jules stopped us half-way down and said, OK stick on the map time. I didn't have a clue, I'd just been going for it on the descent thinking that the day was about fun now!

    Seconded the first aid thing. I didn't do my 1st aid until I'd passed all my guiding stuff, just because of the availability and it's not a problem.

    For the first aid I did the BASP in Glenmore lodge. Totally recommended too, purely for the fact you can ride out the door and be riding Badaguish in 10-minutes.
  • sara flowmtbsara flowmtb Posts: 118
    I'll also vote for Jules at CycleWild, we did ours with him and it was great - learnt loads!
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