My Students Never Fail to Make My Day!

Wow, what a great three days!  I get back from nine days of coaching in a wet and rainy Atlanta and my phone and email box was over following with happy riders sharing their stories.  From excited Atlanta campers including a 51 year old women who started mountain biking at 41 to possibly the fastest teenager in the world and riders and racers of all levels in between from New Zealand to Nepal.

First Mitch Ropelato calls to tell me he scored is second pro victory at the downhill race in Bootleg.  This kid trains hard and trains smart and is full of desire that I don’t think can be coached. Take note of his name as you will be seeing a lot from him.

Then Jamie Danesh emails to say he took 2nd place in first race ever at the Keysville classic! He later tells me that another camper (Jason Benge I believe) from the same camp won the sport class with a time that would of been 1st in expert!

Later I get this email:  …..

Before your camp, I had reached my potential based on my skill and knowledge level.    We ride quite a bit, but I was riding all our trails the exact same way each time, with no improvement.  I would stop and walk over the same obstacles, take the same line on all the corners, brake the same way each time, corner the same way, etc.  A friend who took your class several years ago would tell me to “look to victory.”  I really didn’t know what that meant.    Thank you, from the bottom of my heart, for teaching me the correct way to do the basic skills, and giving me the tools to start learning those skills.  I have many years ahead of me to ride my bike, and I absolutely love mountain biking!!!  Now the doors are wide open for me to become that much better a rider!   Thank you!!!!
I can’t wait to get the homework assignments!  Send them on–I’m ready!!!  The next time you hear from me, I will be a better rider!
Thanks, Gene–you are awesome!

What a great week!  Create your best ride yet,


Mountain Bike! The best pro in the sport taught me wrong!

Often the best athletes in a sport don’t make the best coaches. I was reading the book Blink the other day and it talked about Andre Aggassi’s advice on how he puts so much top spin on the ball. When explaining it to his coach and other coaches he stated that by turning his wrist over as he hit the ball it gave him the top spin. Well the coaches believed this (after all Andre was one of the best players in the world) and started teaching their students this. Well, an interesting thing happened, there was a huge rise in wrist injuries among young tennis players. After careful motion analysis the coaches saw that Andre’s wrist never moved, the “top the ball motion” was actually generated at his shoulder not his wrist.

Reading this reminded me of all the movements in riding that I now explain quite differently than I did 5-10 years ago. The skill hasn’t changed but after years of study I realized that I was often explaining the outcome of doing it correctly but not the actual fundamental skill. Effective coaching involves breaking skills down and being able to explain them to a diverse group of people. One of the best aspects of my job is after 20 years of coaching I am still learning how to explain skills better. The learning of skills continues too, after 11 years of coaching mountain biking I am still learning a lot of little details on how to do skills better/easier/with less effort.

The moral of the story, don’t believe everything you hear, even it comes from an “expert”.