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Those of you who have taken a camp with me or simply been riding with me when we pass a group of kids or a family out riding know how happy I am when I see “kids on bikes” as I usually shout with glee, “Kids on bikes!” Ever since my first my first purple bike with big banana seat and ape hanger handle bars I have loved riding bikes. My bike was my ticket to adventure. It exponentially expanded my universe my allowing me to leave my block and explore unknown territory and gave me an out let for my boundless energy. As our country has gotten more in to consuming and spectating than actually doing anything (shopping is not a hobby, neither is watching other people play sports) it has really saddened me to see so many kids who have never discovered the freedom and adventure of riding a bike. Seeing kids on bikes gives me hope, makes me smile and brings back great memories. The kids on bikes are always smiling too, what a great toy!
After a fun (but way to short) stay with my family for Christmas I had to rush back to Tempe to coach the NOVA junior mountain bike team. I was looking forward to coaching the kids but mad at myself for volunteering to coach so close to Christmas. I was also honestly feeling a little resentful that I was sacrificing family time to coach a clinic (how is that for Christmas spirit! hopefully I won’t feel like such a scrooge next year). Well I woke up Thursday and rushed to get to South Mountain on time and was further upset that there was some confusion as to when the clinic was going to start. I was thinking, “I left my family so I could coach some late, ungrateful kids?”. Well the crew arrived not long after that and we got started. My attitude quickly changed as any time you get “kids on bikes” it is a good thing and this was no exception. The kids were fun, smart and good riders. We all learned a lot and had a lot of fun despite a chilly and breezy day. The kids were grateful too, the all thanked me and said that they were looking forward to next week’s clinic.
On Friday I was lucky enough to teach a younger group of kids than on Thursday and really relearned/remembered the differences in teaching younger kids and how much fun it is. Three 11-13 year old girls learned how to do wheelies! Like the older kids we had a lot of fun and they thanked me at the end of the day.
After the camp I had a little energy left so I went out for a ride. I was hoping to go up Mormon loop and down National trail but ran out of energy near the top of Mormon and turned around. Not long after turning around I ran into more kids on bikes! From the size of their smiles they were clearly excited to be out riding. I stopped to chat with them and they were pressing me to turn around and do National with them. Turns out that they are from Golden, Colorado and we ride a lot of the same trails at home. Their enthusiasm for descending National almost got me to turn around climb back up with them but I was just too tired. I did my best to focus on what I was doing on they way back to the car but I kept thinking about those two kids. What a grand adventure they were on! Unlike a lot of kids I see today they were in excellent shape, had great self-esteem and were quite happy.
For years I have thought if we could just get more kids on bikes we end so many problems. A kid with a skinned knee or even a broken arm has a story to tell and will heal stronger and even more confident of himself. A kid that is 30 pounds over weight by the time he/she is 13 years old and has never accomplished and/or failed anything isn’t really prepared for what life is going to throw at him/her. Life involves stress, physical, mental and emotional and riding a bike is similar to life in this matter. Riding a bike can teach a child a lot: that they can do more than they thought, that they have some control over their life, that exercise is fun, how to handle failure and through all of this increase their self esteem. I am doing what I can to encourage kids to start riding and I hope you will do the same. Stay tuned for more information on “kids on bikes”.
The reviews on this page are from riders of all levels that have completed BetterRide Mountain Bike Skills Coaching, Camps and Clinics.
Wow, after years of racing professionally in the US and on the World Cup you really improved my understanding of cornering. I am cornering faster and with more confidence.
I now know just what I need to do to go to the World’s in 4x and downhill.
Andy, thanks so much! Me, my dad, Cole, and Chase had so much fun! I’m so much more ready to tackle the race season and put all my new techniques to use on the courses up here! Defiantly the best coach I’ve ever had in any sport and the most I’ve ever learned in 3 days.
Just wanted to let you know that I just completed my first DH enduro race (Wolf Mtn., UT) this past weekend with great results. 1st in Cat 1, 19+ and 4th overall. For 6 hours I treated every turn like I was practicing your lessons and I feel like that much of a better rider for it. I can’t wait for my first MSC race in 2 weeks where I plan to relax my mind and turn every corner into its most basic components. Thanks again!
Well, it’s been over 6 months since I attended your Women’s Downhill Camp at Bootleg Canyon. I’ve been thinking of writing this letter for a while, but with the end of bike park season here, this seemed like an appropriate time to look back at all that I learned…
First thing is that my hands are so thankful for my change in body position – last year I felt like I was just hanging onto the bars like they were monkey bars at the playground. After 5 days at Whistler last year, I damaged my hands so badly that I couldn’t even make a fist! This year, after 5 days there, my hands still felt good! In fact, I was ready to ride a 6th day, which would not have even been possible last year!
I have also noticed that I’m no longer staring down at rocks to find my way around them! I find my line, then keep looking ahead to find the next line – so much better! No more looking up to realize that the line I thought was a good one took me to a section I didn’t want to ride down!
Cornering… I think I have improved with this, but most importantly, now I know what I need to do! Always knew that I needed to lean the bike, but didn’t know how to do it. Now instead of just thinking that I just need to go faster thru the corners, I now feel like I have the tools to know what I need to do. It makes it so much less frustrating to know what I need to fix and work on vs. just do it faster!
Anyways, just wanted to say a big Thank You to you and Andy for all that you do! Your camp has really made a huge difference in my riding and I hope to be able to make it out for a camp again next year!
Greetings, oh future World’s Masters Champion,
Hope this finds you well,
Just wanted to pass along a little something. Matt raced the Ranchstyle DS this last weekend. He was just railing the turns. Jumping was pretty good as well) Where a lot of people were brake-checking in and sliding a little, he was just setting his edge, loading up and looking all the way through the turns. He had to work all the way up from the bottom of the bracket (fell on his qualifier, a little too much adrenaline pumping). He went through 3 rounds won the big final, closest differential was a little over 2 seconds. I asked him about the turns, and his response was: “It’s all Gene drills”.
Just wanted to send our thanks, your instruction is really starting to bring it all together for him.
I just wanted to thank you again for the camp. Ive been doing drills 4-5 times a week and wow its amazing how much it helps. Never have a felt this confident in all situations. Its completely changed my riding and im lovin every second of it.
My friend used to race world cups before he got old and started a family, i can now drop him on the trail, its mind blowing for me cause it doesnt even feel like it, it all just feels so natural.
My first race is coming up in a couple weeks so i can let you know how it turns out.
I hope things are doing good for you, thanks again!
I have to thank you again for everything that you did for me. In a matter of three days your clinic had a profound effect on my riding! And I assure you that I am going to practice my drills as I have no intention of loosing any of what you have taught me. I am so eager for the race at Bootleg on the 23rd of this month. I have never in the 5 times that I have ridden Bootleg been so relaxed and not fearing for my life and yes I think I know exactly why. You will definitely see me at another clinic this season as I want to keep learning as much as I can and practice makes a Better Rider (no more by the seat of my pants stuff).
I’ve worked on and off with Gene my entire career. In fact, it was partly on his urging, ten years ago, that I commit to racing pro full-time and quit my silly “real job” thing. After Gene started coaching, he helped me at some of the Nationals. Together we worked on going over lines, race strategy, and especially my mental game. Gene’s got unbelievable energy and enthusiasm for the sport of mountain biking, unmatched by anyone I know. As a pro rider himself he understands racing and training in this sport, which is very rare. Many riders don’t understand the importance of having a coach like Gene. But when they do, they will finally be able to reach their potential. This is the edge to get them out of their plateau and go much faster…
We have just gotten back from an awesome trip of downhill riding in Boulder City, Nevada. As a team, we had been talking about heading out there to do a skills camp with Gene Hamilton (www.betterride.net) for quite some time: over the New Year we got the chance to do just that. We arranged to meet up with Gene in Boulder on the 29th for a one-on-one, three-day, Go-Ride team coaching session… boy were we in for a surprise. In the past, when we had talked about doing this camp, we had no idea what to expect. It was a “Gene is a very smart guy and a damn good rider, but most of us already beat him at every race… what does he know that we don’t?” type thing. And to tell the truth, he knows a lot that we don’t. The guy is genius; in just that one camp he completely revised all of our racing skills. From pumping to cornering, vision to breathing, course inspection to eating right… he didn’t miss a beat. Never have we learned so many applicable techniques to mountain biking than riding with Gene for that one three-day span. We here at Go-Ride would like to give Gene a big thank you; you don’t know how much you have helped us. –
Me and Craner talk about your coaching all the time. I am riding so much faster since the camp. I am so much more confident and I can’t believe how fast I am cornering, thanks man. I love how you have broken it down to science. From course inspection to the mental game to how to practice at a race you have all the details figured out. I am so excited right now! I am going to hit as many World Cups as I can in 2009 and between what you taught me and my F1 Jedi I am going to tear it up. Lets get together for some training in Bootleg this winter.
I learned more in this camp than in my entire career so far.
I have been riding Mountain Bikes for over 25 years, started racing Downhill 3 years ago, and thought I was doing well with 12 Podiums in 19 races to date, BUT, after spending just 3-Days with you and the crew at Northstar for that DH Camp, I learned more about how to actual ride with more control, more skill, and more SPEED than all that riding and racing COMBINED !! By the end of your Camp I was doing, not pretending to do things on a bike I did not even think were possible !
Your Program ROCKS !!!
I have never had someone from this sport make such a profound impact on the way I ride my bike. I have for years considered myself an expert rider who was still developing his skills. I have received degrees in higher education and mechanics. Although I posses all this I was falling short of a mark and expectation of myself. It lead to disappointment and frustration in me and my performance while racing. You have given me the mental edge, philosophy, and a new start in my world of biking. I have shed my unease and disappointment of a riding plateau for a new vigor in my thought process. I now have the
tools to progress steadily for the rest of my life, I will do there is no try. I now look toward the horizon with open eyes, my head up, a smile on my face knowing that my counter pressure will lead me to victory.
Gene, Thanks for giving me a Better Ride.
Just an update from the Utah/Idaho crew: It turned out to be a great season for all. Randy improved to get the 2nd overall in the Utah State Series DH (40+ sport). Clint finished a close third, after missing a race, and with his new V10 he should be smoking next year. Rolf keeps getting faster and faster and just got back from Worlds in France where he finished 4th in his group. As for me, I finished 2nd overall in the Utah DH series (30-39 expert) which was a great feeling of accomplishment. I have improved mentally and physically, allowing my times to increase by more than 30 seconds. We are talking about another clinic this winter to keep us tough and prepared for next season. Thanks again for all your help Gene, your guidance has made a real difference for all of us.
We all owe a great thanks. Several times during the weekend Chris and Mary mentioned how much the clnic helped them. I personally gained so much from it. It was tough sitting down and visualizing that course twice a day for a week, but it paid off. I really hope that you will become an integral part of CU cycling in the future. You were a key factor to us all wearing a bars and stars jersey this weekend, thanks again!
I just wanted to thank you for a great camp this past weekend – I really learned a ton, and a bunch of my questions since the last camp were answered, I can’t wait for the next camp!
My goals have changed over the past few months – I’ll be racing Cat 2 this year and I’m hoping to move up to Cat 1 if it looks realistic. I plan to qualify for and race at Masters Nationals next year – the highest level I can compete at!