Progression Through Highland Training & Camps

At Highland, our mission has always been crystal clear: to be the premier company in mountain bike training and trail design.We can build all of the trails and features we want, but there’s little point if we don’t also teach others how to ride and enjoy them. Over the last decade, Highland Training has evolved to offer a comprehensive series of interconnected learning experiences, each designed to meet any given rider at their level and give them the training they need to progress.

So you want to learn to ride at Highland. Where do we begin? Say you’re relatively new to downhill mountain biking. Maybe your riding background is limited to paved roads. Maybe you’re already an avid mountain biker, but have always stuck to the cross country trails. Maybe your kid/friend/partner/coworker talked you into trying something new this one time—going on an adventure—and now you’re freaking out a little bit. We know that the prospect of lift-accessed, gravity-driven mountain biking can be intimidating to newcomers, which is why we’ve developed our Find Your Ride program.


Riders practice skills in the Park Ready Zone

The Find Your Ride program is the perfect introduction to downhill mountain biking for riders of all ages. In the morning, we’ll set you up with all of the rental equipment you need: a professionally maintained enduro bike, full-face helmet, and elbow and knee pads. Next, one of our coaches will lead you through an hour-long Park Ready™ session. You’ll learn the basic mechanics of body positioning, braking, descending, and cornering on dedicated learning terrain at the base of the mountain. Once you’ve mastered the basics, the lesson will conclude with a guided top-to-bottom run on Freedom Trail. Freedom Trail was built in 2017 specifically to service beginners. You can see what it’s like for yourself here.

Nervous about loading a bike onto a lift for the first time? Don’t worry! We’ve installed a stationary bike tray in the base area, which you can use to practice. You’ll be a bike-loading pro in no time.


Freedom Trail

If you want to solidify your base of core skills even further, you can upgrade to the Find Your Ride 3 Pack and get two more Park Ready™ sessions. On your second and third visit you’ll be able to pick up your equipment and ride independently in the morning, reinforcing the basics on beginner terrain. Your coach will meet you in the afternoon for another one-hour lesson introducing new skills and techniques.

So what’s next?

 

For the kids:

 Our next level of training for young riders who are comfortable on a bike and looking to gain the skills needed to start exploring more of Highland’s terrain is the Kids Camp program. This is a one-day, fun-filled youth development camp that provides instruction for building the core skills essential to a lifetime of progressive riding. All Kids Camps utilize our skills areas, pump track, and beginner-friendly lift-accessed terrain to develop proper braking, cornering, balancing, descending, and lifting techniques. Kids Camps are offered in full-day and half-day programs, based on rider age. The half-day, three-hour camps are offered to riders ages six to nine. Riders ages ten to fourteen can enroll in a six-hour, full-day Kids Camp and spend extra time being coached on green circle and blue square trails. Attention to safety and rider etiquette are central to our Kids Camp programs: you’re never too young to learn the ins and outs of bike park riding!


Kids Camp participants prepare to unload from the lift with Coach Justin 

Once you know you love to ride, is there any better way to spend those long summer days than ripping it up at America’s Bike Park? Every summer, young riders travel from across the country and around the world to take park in Highland Camps’ summer programming: Summer Ride and Ayr Academy.

Ayr Academy campers assess a trail with guest pro Carson Storch

Our Summer Ride program is a three-day camp designed to introduce riders to Highland Camps and prepare them to take on the more rigorous five-day Ayr Academy. Riders ages eight to thirteen who are interested in downhill mountain biking can enjoy three full days of attention from Highland’s expert coaches. Each week campers arrive with all manner of experiences, ability levels, and personal goals. Three days later, they depart camp having learned new skills, developed more confidence, made new friends, and elevated their riding to the next level.


Summer Ride campers train in Sherwood Forest

With the right combination of skills, endurance, and enthusiasm under your belt, it’s time to step up to a full week of riding at Ayr Academy! No matter your ability level, as long as you love to ride we can teach you to do it better. Ayr Academy is a weeklong mountain biking summer camp for youth ages eleven to seventeen, led by Highland’s professional coaching staff. Our coaches have years of experience riding and coaching on Highland’s terrain. Each summer our core staff is also joined by a lineup of guest pro riders, who bring with them years of unique riding experiences to share and a focused interest in supporting the next generation of riders. Ayr Academy is a unique opportunity to train hard and play hard alongside both your peers and your heroes. The amount of progression you’ll achieve in just one week is consistently astonishing.

Learning to assess and approach features safely.


Ayr Academy campers reaching new heights.

 

For the Adults:

If you’re an adult rider whose skills have developed past the Find Your Ride level, we have a plan for you too. We offer several different multi-day adult programs that combine a supportive group of like-minded riders with the training versatility of Highland’s wide variety of terrain and diverse coaching staff. 

In the spring, the Women’s Gravity Weekend brings together a group of enthusiastic female riders in an encouraging environment. Whether you’re new to gravity mountain biking or have been on the scene for years, this program has something to offer you. While there’s no substitute for good training, there’s a lot to be said for the progression that is achieved as a result of a community of riders pushing one another. Our women’s programs offer a great opportunity to connect with and learn from other women.


Coach Whitney leads a group of Women’s Gravity Weekend participants down the mountain.

In September, we host our annual Women’s Freeride Festival. This year will mark the tenth time this event has been held! Riders of all disciplines and abilities are encouraged to join us for a weekend filled with group downhill, freeride, and dirt jump lessons. You can also come to shred for the weekend and show your support of the Women’s Freeride Movement. 


Coach Socorra demonstrates a drop


Women’s Freeride Festival participants and coaches start the day with a quick lesson in bike setup and body positioning

We also offer two co-ed Adult Ayr Academy sessions during the season. These three-day weekend sessions mirror our world-famous Ayr Academy summer camps, and help intermediate through expert adult riders hone their skills with expert professional coaching. We maintain a 6:1 rider to coach ratio, so everyone gets the specialized attention they need to progress at an accelerated rate. All of our adult programs wrap up each day with a casual aprés experience in lodge, sharing dinner and drinks with your fellow riders and coaches.


Adult Ayr Academy guest coach Kyle Strait leading the way through a berm

 

When you’ve advanced through all of the training programs we have to offer, we’ll still be there for you. Personalized coaching is offered for riders at every level. Join us for a one-on-one private or small group lesson tailored to your individual riding goals. Our team of talented coaches can train you in pretty much any riding specialization, taking your riding to the next level with sharpened fundamentals and solidly built advanced techniques.

 

It’s impossible to overstate the amount of time, energy, and passion that has gone into developing these programs. We want you to have a coaching experience that is safe, fun, and informative at every level. Looking to improve your riding this year? Reach out to us at training@highlandmountain.com and we’ll help you figure out which program is the best for you.