Alexandre Bastien is coach, team manager and director of Fast Riding People (FRP) International. He is team manager and coach in the UCI DH MTB World Cup, former assistant coach of the French DH MTB Teams and co-developer of the Rhône-Alpes top level in DH.
Interview with Alex Bastien
Fast Riding People, MCF School
« I've been mountain biking since I was 12 years old, I've always lived in the mountains, it was wonderful, it was the ideal sport just like skiing. It is practised surrounded by nature and in addition employs exactly the same technical skills. There are lots of parallels with skiing or rallying. Apart from anything else, it's a fun sport. It's my passion and my job too ! ».
The FRP school is above all the French Cycling Instructor School (MCF) of Méribel. Having the MCF label certifies adherence to a charter of quality. When I talk about mountain bikes I don’t exclude road bikes, children's bikes...there is something for all. Accordingly there are Fast Riding People courses that are purely downhill or Enduro, indeed every form or riding that is dictated by gravity.
The MCF school has been open in Méribel now for 16 years. Our team is made up of 3 to 4 instructors plus two mechanics. As a school we offering training every year and organise nationally recognised tests from the “Loupiot” to “Biker 3” and “Rocket”. Many young people come from different regions to take this last national riding test as a stepping stone to becoming a mountain bike circuit patroller or instructor.
But the MCF school is above all open to all families, all private individuals and all those who wish to perfect their technique. There is of course a part of FRP that is aimed more at those who are looking to riding for speed, thrills and adrenaline... although of course the two sides of the discipline are complementary !
A family can come for example on a trip with the MCF school and the children discover a passion for Enduro or downhill, and want to come back for a week-long course. The courses take place over several days with full board accommodation. They are open to riders of all levels, from beginner to advanced. The teaching we offer is technical and fun and in complete safety. Groups are of up to 8 people. We can organise outings for private groups as well as clubs and individuals.
The advantage that we have is that there are professional riders who come to share their experience on the courses. It's great because novices can meet real pro riders and there is a real exchange of knowledge and experience. The pro riders sometimes even come to teach when they are also qualified to teach.
For the MCF importance is placed on the value of sharing, on respect for other practitioners, and for nature, and conviviality. And when it comes to competitions, we aim to give riders the skills with which to progress, training techniques, the know-how to keep improving whilst keeping a spirit of fair-play.
Really intended for everyone, for anyone who wants to try downhill mountain biking..
This course is oriented towards competitors, those who are licensed to race. This is a performance course.
■ Girls camp
This session is for girls only. It's still not massively frequented which is a shame because those who come have great fun !
We offer lots of DH outings. We can offer lots of gravity assisted outings, as we use the lifts to reach higher start points. And this year for the first time the lifts will be open every day !
■ Electrically Assisted Bike (EAB)
We also organise 1 and half hour electrically assisted bike outings from 5pm every evening. One can also rent an electric bike to take out oneself after a simple introduction and mini test. Electric bikes allow many to gain confidence in their ability to cycle. For some cycling/re-cycling can sometimes appear daunting. The electric bike opens horizons that were previously unimaginable. For instance if one imagines the energy required to climb a single step, with the same energy and the electric motor one can climb 250 steps, it's just crazy !
We also offer road bike rental with the possibility of coaching. We have small group sessions for children with a mix of trails and skate-park. This year a pump-track (BMX mini track) will be installed in Méribel, which is extremely fun for children. We have about sixty bikes, a mountain bike park of XC, downhill, Enduro, electric, and bikes for children... a very varied range.
Another original activity that we offer is the Fat-bike. It's a bike with big low-pressure tires, (between 300 and 500g), extremely easy to handle in the sand, in the snow... everywhere, you almost feel like you could ride on water.
Any last words ?
My tip would be to cycle all year round ! It is the best way to keep in shape for skiing in winter and vice versa because it is completely complementary.
We can offer something for anyone who wishes to taste the joy of cycling. The strength of the MCF school is that we have all solutions to meet the needs of any client. Whether you know how to ride a bike or not, we will always be able to offer something for your level, to offer coaching, an appropriate bike, a coach who will know how to communicate with you and which tracks to choose. Our trails are getting better and better all the time.
People are always surprised when they arrive in Méribel by the quality of the trails. Our trails are really great and well maintained thanks to the technical services teams. We are getting better known for this, and that's why we will continue to grow and keep up the effort !