You are Not Good at Mountain Biking!

There is a widely held misconception among mountain bikers (YOU).  It’s
that you are good.  At mountain biking.  You’re not.

It’s easy to see why you might think you are, with so many forces
pulling you towards that idea.  Maybe it’s your friend that you can beat
on the trails you like to ride together.  Maybe it’s some obstacle you
used to think was scary, but now you roll right over it.  It might even
be a race you won!  Maybe a whole series.   You might be the fastest guy
in town, or in your whole state.  It might be that you ride the most
difficult trails you can find near you.   Or maybe it’s just the feeling
the have you when you are riding along, handling terrain and doing your
thing that makes you know you are good!

It might be all of the above.

You’re fooling yourself.  You’re not that good.  Your friend has a weak
skills foundation, that’s why you beat him.  It’s much more likely that
you are rolling over that obstacle in spite of poor form, rather than
because of proper form.  It works anyway because of the obstacle.  Try a
harder one with your technique and you’ll likely eat it.  We both know
there’s a trail out there that will make you look BAD.  Did you win that
race because you had the best skills?  No, you just had a better motor.
If it was the skills, you know you still made enough mistakes to lose if
there were a GOOD rider in the race. Your town is small, your state is
too.  The trails near you are wimpy compared to the trails elsewhere.
You are probably getting that great “feeling” when you ride because you
are doing something familiar and comfortable – not necessarily employing
correct core skills on the bike.

You thought you were good for so long because you don’t understand what
you’re missing.  Unconscious Incompetence: it’s when you don’t even know
what you don’t know.  Some people are happy to go through life riding
their mountain bikes like that, thinking they know what they are doing,
because it seems to work on the trails they ride.  We put so much
effort, money, time, etc into mountain biking.  Why fool yourself about
the kind of mountain biker you are?  Be real.   You are not good.  Get
stimulated to learn and improve or you will be like that forever!

It’s because you are self taught in an environment ruled by the self preservation instinct.  Think about it, would you rather wager on a bar brawler, or a trained UFC Fighter?  The guy with focused skills training will win most times.

Don’t take it so hard, though.  Everything is going to be OK.  You’re
not alone.  There are lots of mountain bikers who, like you, are not
good. Take Gene for example.  Gene Hamilton has raced pro DH for over 15
years, and has been the top mountain bike skills coach pro racers for
almost that long.

He knows he’s not good yet.  That’s for sure.  That’s why you can find
him out in some desolate parking lot several times a week, doing his
core skills drills with a purpose.  He wants to get good.  All the best
riders know they’re not good.  Even Danny Hart is already working on
being faster next year.  That’s because those guys have graduated to
Conscious Incompetence:  recognizing their shortfalls and the value of
core skills in addressing them.

When you decide you want to stop pretending to be be good, and actually
get good, we’re here to help.

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2 replies
  1. Ricardo Quintanilla G. says:

    completly agree with you, and thank for to do this so clear.
    could you give me advises for to be a better rider?, considering that, in my city (Santiago / Chile), there is no mtb schools, neither mtb teachers. i realy love riding in mtb, but i know and feel that i have so much to learn. may be some book?, or some dvd?.

    thanks a lot.

    • Gene says:

      Hi Ricardo,

      Thanks for getting the just of this article. It was meant to convey a message and wake some people up. It was meant to be educational but it angered quite a few people who some how thought I was putting them down (which is odd as that would mean I was also putting myself down as I mention myself as one of the many who aren’t good at riding).

      We do have a DVD coming out and a membership website that will involve a lot of follow up coaching for our camp and dvd students coming out soon. Please keep an eye on the new website!


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