XC Racer Reviews

The reviews on this page are from riders of all levels that have completed BetterRide Mountain Bike Skills Coaching, Camps and Clinics.

XC Racer Reviews

I learned more today than in the last 10-11 years of just riding” (in a rushed 3.5 hour lesson, BetterRide camps are 19-22 hours over 3 days!)

Ross Schnell - Jan. 23rd 2010Singlespeed World Champion, 2008 Downieville Classic Winner, Team TrekRead what Ross Schnell said about training with Gene in his blog.

I’ve been wanting to pass on a personal success story. Before your mountain bike camp in Indiana with Coach Andy W. I participated in my first mountain bike race in Copper Harbor, MI. I placed 6th in my age group (over 6 min. behind 3rd place) on a very technical course. Considering the field, I was happy with the results. My goal after the BetterRide camp was to be in the top 3 in the same race with a similar field. With my new found skills I placed 1st this time with 2nd place over 7 min. behind. I tore it up! Attached are a couple of pictures. Thanks, I’m always telling people that no matter how much they think they know how to ride a mountain bike, they owe it to themselves to attend one of your camps. A year later I still practice my skills every time I’m out.

BTW, a while back you suggested some reading material. I chose Body, Mind Mastery by Dan Millman. (in audio book form). Not only do I feel it helped my mountain bike skills with things like, how tension is counter productive and how the “opponent is not the enemy, but instead the teacher” it also helped me in my own personal life. Good recommendation!
Keep up the good job,

Rich SchmitApril 2011

The results are starting to trickle in as I have the time to ride some of my local rides that I track my times on.  I’m astonished!  My descending time from the summit of Chimney Gulch to the Beaver Brook cross over dropped from a personal best of 6:51.0 to 5:46.0, for the bottom section it went from a personal best of 13:42.0 to 10:12.2.  Considering that I really haven’t had enough time to practice a lot yet, I’m stunned at the improvement.  I can also say that I felt more in control than I used to and I cleaned a section I’ve never had the balls to even try before. Again Gene, I can’t thank you enough.  The camp was great.  Your ability to break skills down into digestible parts, watch riders and help them refine techniques, your humility and sense of humor make you a world class coach.  I’ll be taking your next level two clinic this year and probably a refresher next year.”

Mark ForgyExpert XC racer, mountain bike fanatic

Just wanted to give you an update and let you know that I am starting to experience the delayed effects of your camp.  I knew when the camp ended that I was leaving with some new skills that were helpful immediately.  But I also knew there were other skills that were going to take more practice, patience and time.  Well, I’m starting to see them.  I’ve been practicing descending the way you instructed us but until the last couple of weeks, I knew I was still faster descending the way I always had – I was just more comfortable that way.  But in the last couple of weeks, it all kind of clicked.  I’m not winning any downhill races – yet – but all of a sudden (and it really did seem to happen pretty suddenly) your techniques took over and instead of just using them at low speeds only when I thought about it, I was using them all over the trails and feeling pretty comfortable.  Now I find myself only reverting to my old techniques when I come into a corner already off balance.  Anyway, thanks, it’s a great feeling – can’t wait to use them on race courses this year!

SK" Sarah KaufmanTop Pro Endurance Racer

I took your Neshaminy clinic in June.  I wanted to fill you in on my race results.  I raced all season in the Midatlantic Super Series in Women’s Sport.  It was my first season racing and I’d been riding for a year and a half.  I won the overall championship!  I am so happy that I won!  I will be moving up to Elite next year.

I’ve been doing the drills you taught for 20 minutes, twice a week.  I almost always preride my race courses.  I work on hard sections to figure out the best lines.  Since the clinic, I have noticed that my balance has improved tremendously.  I can track stand with little movement for 20 seconds.  This has helped me keep control when I’m slowly going over logs or rocks on the uphill.  I’m proud to say I go pretty fast on rocky downhills.  On the ones that aren’t that hard, I can really fly and keep my speed and just flow over them, taking the best line.  On the really scary ones with huge rocks, I can use my balance and body position to stay centered over the bottom bracket and go through with more speed than before.  It’s still not fast enough, and I often get going too slow and then have to stop to avoid an endo.  I go back and work on those sections until I get them down.  I have found that your vision techniques have really helped me when I get into one of those situations where I’m convinced I’m about to crash.  I line up for the hard part, then I force myself to look farther ahead (looking to victory) and get over the thing.

Some specific accomplishments…. besides winning the season…..

-I railed this 2 mile section with fast flowy downhills, banked curves, tight sections, some rolling hills, interspersed with some tough technical parts, and ending with a sharp right turn on big rocks, down into a rocky dip, over an uphill log bridge, and then out of the steep dip on hard packed dirt, with two big roots at the very top!   I flew through the whole thing! It was perfect.  I passed a whole bunch of slower people during it.  I also passed 3 on the younger Sport Women that I’d caught (they started 2 min earlier).  I had 2 Elites on my tail through the whole thing.  I even passed 1 competitor on a very rooty curve.  At the end of the section, the Elites passed me on the next long climb, and the one guy said, “NICE riding!”  I glowed for the next 10 minutes!

-I beat one competitor who had beaten me before.  She beat me by 4 minutes in the past.  She’s from the area and very familiar with the final race course.  On that very race course, at the end of this season, I beat her by 30 seconds.

-Although my nemesis still beat me by a huge margin at the last race, I found out that I made up 40 seconds on her on the rocky down hill.  The race was up the mountain and then down the other side.  She is 9 minutes faster than me and she did it on the climbs.  She’s more fit.  Well, I can get more fit!  But I now know that I am much faster on the downhills, and on the rocks!  So, once I have fitness to match hers, I WILL beat her!  I have a long time to train before next season.

So, Gene… thank you for the clinic.  I still tell all my riding buddies about it.  Especially how you break down the mechanics of everything that you teach.  I let them know how you explain the physics behind the techniques.  I tell them that the learning environment you provide is the perfect way to learn something, practice it, and really get it.

I’d love to take a refresher course (part 2) if you do one on the East Coast.  I keep in touch with Mike, Orlie, and Jim.  I think they’d do it too.

Angie WallaceSeptember 24, 2010

Tonight was the first night of practice cyclocross races.  The cornering techniques I learned in you camp last weekend rock on the cross bike.  I was able to carry speed through the corners and off cambers that I could only dream of last year!  I was actually found myself cranking up the speed before the corners instead of braking. Nobody else is using this technique.  I found my self keeping pace with stronger riders just on cornering skill alone.  Imagine after I’ve a had a few weeks to practice.

I had best time of my life on a mountain bike at your camp, and look forward to doing another one next spring.

Chris CornelisonSeptember 15, 2009

Just wanted to show you what your lessons made me do this past weekend!  If you click on the photo or link to the photo album look through the album and on the 2nd page, bottom row, there’s a great shot of me doing what you taught me to do with my elbows-totally Brian Lopes style. I was impressed to see myself doing that-a big change in my riding style and I know it’ll make me faster in the long run.

So thanks and I may have some time coming up where I can make it to one of your camps-I’ll let you know.

Amanda Riley, Kenda, Titus, Hayes TeamWinners of 2008 24 hours of Old Pubelo

This thank-you is long overdue. Please accept my apologies. Anyway, I wanted to let you know that I am riding 5-6 times per week and am enjoying mountain biking more than ever thanks to your camp. Your instruction was the best I have received in any sport. It is obvious you have spent a lot of time observing and dissecting the art of mountain biking as you have superior knowledge of how to mountain bike. In addition, you are excellent at explaining everything to your campers. In fact, it wasn’t until I went to a local’s day clinic a few weeks ago that I realized how great you instruction really was. Your explanations for some of the same moves were so much better and effective. Thanks Gene.

I also found your mind- and body-wellness talks very informative. I liked hearing about the latest flexibility and strength training philosophies and I liked the mind tricks you showed us. Thanks to your teaching, I now better understand the impact the mind has on the body. I practice visioning on the trail and it really helps!

As I said in my first email, I really want to race, but would only do so after going to your camp. Well, now that I have, I feel I am ready to give racing a shot. Thank you for the help you have given me. I am very grateful for the opportunity I have had to learn from you. I hope to hear more about your accomplishments in the future.
Keep riding hard.

Laura PattenLess than a year after taking a camp with me was winning sport races

Thanks for the e-mail.  By the way, after completing your camp in Arizona, I dropped 5 minutes off my previous best lap time at the 12 hours of Temecula mountain bike race (59 to 54 minutes).  Obviously, this was a significant breakthrough.  I’ve also noticed that by being a smoother and more efficient rider and by decoupling my body from the bike, I exert less energy and travel faster.  “Looking to victory” works like a charm.  Most importantly, the basic skills I was exposed to in your camp (and continue to develop) have made mountain biking more enjoyable.

KeithJanuary 2008

I just wanted to let you know that I’ve had big improvements in my racing this year after taking the betteride course (about 10 minutes improvement from last year).  I got 2nd place in the beginner category at Eldora, then placed 15th out of 35 in the Sport category at Winterpark in my first ‘sport race’.   I passed people on the downhill for the first time in these two races, and am feeling much more confident on the downhills (I hit 31.5 mph max on a tight singletrack in the Eldora race).

Jonathan Jones

Your camp gave me the confidence to go out and try a few races this summer.  My first race was in the beginner 40 to 45 age class in the “Point to Point” cross country race in Winter Park.  While I certainly did not break any records – I at least had a respectable finish and more importantly had a total blast.  My second race was a Super D (much more my style in that there is MUCH less uphill cranking) at Winter Park where I got a second place finish in my age group.  3rd race was a Mountain States Cup Super D race in Copper where I came in tenth.  Again no records but still having a total blast.  My friends the same age as me think I am crazy doing this stuff but I think they are crazy to be sitting on their arses.  Again, thank you for giving me the confidence to go out there and try some racing and hopefully in the near future I will be in another one of your camps!

Will EdgingtonSeptember 1, 2009

Thanks again for holding the camp last weekend.  I was finally able to get out and ride yesterday on the falcon trail (loop that goes around the Air Force Academy).  There are two sections that I have had problems with in the past.  One is a tight turn with two drop offs that are oddly spaced and the landing slopes off into some bushes.  I’ve ridden the trail a dozen times and walked that section most times.  Once I tried it and endo’ed into the bushes.  When I rode it yesterday, I cleared it with confidence.  I kept repeating to myself “Do or Do Not – There Is No Try”:-) I relaxed, saw the line I wanted to take, found my balance and went through the section very controlled – it was great!

The next section is a steep switchback climb with a ton of sand.  I have never made that turn, although I have tried to every time I’ve ridden the trail.  This time I approached the switchback using the techniques and strategy you taught us.  The result – made it!  No problem!

The last thing I noticed is that the whole ride was smoother.  I focused primarily on the vision techniques  – and body position skills.  The ride felt slower than what I normally ride, but it was actually six minutes faster!  Absolutely amazing!

Brad Oct. 8, 2008 5 days after his 3 day coaching session

Thanks again, you were a great part of my succees for 2005. I had the best year of my life. Part of which at the age of 52, I entered numerous mtn bike races, podiumed 5 times and won the Texas Mountain Bike Racing Association series for my division.

Your instruction, professsionalism and emails went above and beyond all expectations.

Kent Wells2006

XC Race Camps

Shave Minutes off Your Race Times

“Learned a lot today about riding bikes faster and more efficiently, uphill and downhill. So psyched to get back to the basics and get faster!” Ross Schnell – Trek Factory Rider

Ready to race faster, ride with more confidence, ride more efficiently, and shave minutes off your race times? The best athletes in the world across all sports disciplines spend less than 20% of their training time actually doing the sport, the other 80% of their time is spent on structured drills to master the core, fundamental skills of the sport.

What You Will Learn

Spend a three day weekend in our Cross Country Race Camp you will be taught the proper riding technique, core skills of mountain biking, and given drills to take home that will allow you to eventually master these skills. Your mental skills will also improve and you will leave with a much greater understanding of how to mountain bike efficiently, race faster and smoother. Please, do yourself a favor and end the frustration of not riding up to your potential.

 Core Mountain Biking Skills Learned In Camp

  • Correct Body Position
  • Balanced Weight Placement
  • Vision – How to Look Ahead Correctly
  • Bike Set up for Optimal Riding and Control
  • Cornering Technique with Take Home Drills
  • Advanced Cornering Technique
  • How to Brake Effectively
  • How to Use Your Brakes for Speed
  • Correct Technique for Uphill and Downhill Switchbacks
  • How to Clear Large Obstacles
  • How to Interpret the Trail to Ride Fast and Smooth
Camp Overview

This is the most fun and informative mountain bike school you will ever attend!

Starting in a safe learning environment we explain the skill, demonstrate the skill and have you practice the skill utilizing drills that you will continue to use long after the camp. Once you understand the skills we then apply them on the trail. Here at Better Ride we really enjoy helping others and would love to share these techniques and the drills for practicing, so you can eventually mastering these techniques.

Day 1

  • How to ride in balance, in control and efficiently. Learn correct body position, balance and weight placement for climbing and descending
  • How to set-up your bike for optimal riding: tire pressure, tire type, stem length, bar height, seat height, brake level reach/adjustment, suspension set up to riders weight and riding style
  • How to look ahead correctly- Everyone one knows to look ahead but few actually do it! No matter how rough and rocky the trail you need to be looking ahead with both the trail and your goal in focus. This is easier said than done! We will teach you where and how to look ahead, how this effects your riding and how to improve your vision skills.
  • How to wheelie over small obstacles, up and down, two efficient wheelies relying on technique, not upper body strength and how to use them over different obstacles
  • How to fall safer
  • Break for lunch and hit the trails to work on morning skills
  • Wrap up and reveiw of the days skills

Day 2

  • Review of day 1, questions?
  • How bikes corner, how to corner in balance, using vision to corner faster, easier with more control
  • Advanced cornering with drills
  • How to brake effectively (no skidding!)
  • how to use your brakes to go faster
  • How to start/restart on an uphill
  • Break for lunch and hit the trails to work on morning skills
  • Wrap up and reveiw

Day 3

  • Review of both days and questions, review drills
  • How to balance on a bike, how to improve your balance, how to trackstand
  • How to do switch backs (up and down) in balance and in control with my 100% technique (as opposed to the popular momentum method that works well 50-60% of the time)
  • How to clear larger obstacles, lift your rear wheel correctly and easily (not yanking up with your cleats), clearing logs/log piles, doing drop offs safely and smoothly
  • Campers’ choice, skills the campers want further work on
  • Break for lunch and hit the trails to work on morning skills
  • Wrap up and reveiw
Camp Goals

Our goal is to teach you the core skills of mountain biking and apply them directly to cross country racing. You will also be taught drills for each skill so you can continue to master the core skills of mountain biking long after camp is over.

With this goal in mind the Better Ride Coaches along with Guest coaches Greg Minnaar, Marla Streb, Ross Schnell, Sue Haywood and many other profesional in the sport have designed a progressive Three Day Skills Camp to teach you the core skills of mountain biking and cross country racing. You will also be taught the mental side of mountain bike racing throughout camp to help you over come fear and eliminate barriers to improvement and get you riding confidently.

Pro Racers Review

Ross Schnell: 2009 Singlespeed World Champion, 2008 Downieville Classic Winner and Trek Factory Rider

“I learned more today than in the last 10-11 years of just riding” he also posted this to his twitter page “Learned a lot today about riding bikes faster and more efficiently, uphill and downhill. So psyched to get back to the basics and get faster!” This was after a extremely condensed 3.5 hour private lesson with Gene Hamilton

Women’s MTB Camps

Share a Great Mountain Bike Riding Experience with other Women

“The camp was challenging and also very supportive, with encouragement from you and the campers and this environment will only lead to success. I wish I had a similar opportunity to learn these skills 10 years ago!” – Melanie, Womens Camp

BetterRide Women’s only Mountain Bike Camp, Clinic and Skills Coaching covers the same core skills as the co-ed camps in a supportive, non-judgmental atmosphere. This can be very beneficial as it invites students to push their limits without feeling intimidated.

What You Will Learn

Spend a three day weekend with us and we will teach you the physical and mental skills on how to ride balanced, efficiently, fast and smooth. You will also be given drills to help you master your new skills. Please, do yourself a favor and end the frustration of not riding up to your potential. For less than upgrading a wheelset you can upgrade your skills and start riding with ease and more confidence.

Core Mountain Biking Skills Learned In Camp

  • Correct Body Position
  • Balanced Weight Placement
  • Vision – How to Look Ahead Correctly
  • Bike Set up for Optimal Riding and Control
  • Cornering Technique with Take Home Drills
  • Advanced Cornering Technique
  • How to Brake Effectively
  • How to Use Your Brakes for Speed
  • Correct Technique for Uphill and Downhill Switchbacks
  • How to Clear Large Obstacles
  • How to Interpret the Trail to Ride Fast and Smooth
Camp Overview

This is the most fun and informative mountain bike skills coaching, camp or clinic you will ever attend

Starting in a safe learning environment we explain the skill, demonstrate the skill and have you practice the skill utilizing drills that you will continue to use long after the camp. Once you understand the skills we then apply them on the trail. Here at Better Ride we really enjoy helping others and would love to share with you the techniques, core skills and the skill building drills for you to continue to practice and eventually master.

Each day are camps start at 9:45 am with 3-4 hours of skills instruction and drills in a local park followed by 2-3 hours of on trail practice and riding on trail. A typical day runs from 9:45 am until 4:00 to 5:00 pm

Day 1

  • How to ride in balance, in control and efficiently. Learn correct body position, balance and weight placement for climbing and descending
  • How to set-up your bike for optimal riding: tire pressure, tire type, stem length, bar height, seat height, brake level reach/adjustment, suspension set up to riders weight and riding style
  • How to look ahead correctly- Everyone one knows to look ahead but few actually do it! No matter how rough and rocky the trail you need to be looking ahead with both the trail and your goal in focus. This is easier said than done! We will teach you where and how to look ahead, how this effects your riding and how to improve your vision skills.
  • How to wheelie over small obstacles, up and down, efficient wheelies relying on technique, not upper body strength and how to use them over different obstacles
  • How to fall safer
  • Break for lunch and hit the trails to work on morning skills
  • Wrap up and reveiw of the days skills

Day 2

  • Review of day 1, questions?
  • How bikes corner, how to corner in balance, using vision to corner faster, easier with more control
  • Advanced cornering with drills
  • How to brake effectively (no skidding!)
  • how to use your brakes to go faster
  • How to start/restart on an uphill
  • Break for lunch and hit the trails to work on morning skills
  • Wrap up and reveiw

Day 3

  • Review of both days and questions, review drills
  • How to balance on a bike, how to improve your balance, how to trackstand
  • How to do switch backs (up and down) in balance and in control with my 100% technique (as opposed to the popular momentum method that works well 50-60% of the time)
  • How to clear larger obstacles, lift your rear wheel correctly and easily (not yanking up with your cleats), clearing logs/log piles, doing drop offs safely and smoothly
  • Campers’ choice, skills the campers want further work on
  • Break for lunch and hit the trails to work on morning skills
  • Wrap up and reveiw
Camp Goals

We have designed our Women Only mountain bike skills camps to help you with both the mental and physical sides of mountain biking. Our goal is to help you reach your potential by teaching you the core skills of mountain biking and the drills to master these skills. These are the non-intuitive skills that eluded Gene Hamilton, Better Ride Head Coach after 15 years of riding and kept him from reaching his potential. Learning and becoming proficient at these skills will allow you to ride in balance and in control making you a more efficient and confident rider.

Reviews From Women Campers

I wish I could tell you I was sent to test your teaching skills by “acting” difficult but then I wouldn’t be telling the truth. I have always been a difficult person to teach because, not only am I impatient, but I expect to be an expert immediately. I also am horribly competitive, so if I have a “team” of people, I want to kick their asses and be the best. (Believe me; you do not want to play Charades with me…ever). However, I was really impressed with your coaching skills and your ability to put humor into my attitude. You have a unique ability to explain technique to a diverse group of people and keep it interesting and clear. As you said, every group is different, but it is easy to tell that you have no problem meshing random people together to make them feel like a real “team”. I also thought your use of stories and personal experiences were good tools that you utilized when everyone started thinking too hard about the task at hand.
I really feel that the core of your program lies in all the drills you taught. Already I feel more confident on my bike and understand some ridiculous mistakes I had been making in the past. I think that everyone who even considers MTB should really take your clinic, and I can also see how there is great potential for repeat customers and further training. You have a lot to offer riders and your energy and enthusiasm creates a wicked inspirational atmosphere that makes me personally want to challenge myself and realize my potential.

I wish you all the best and hope I do get the chance to study under you again.

Carien Hughes

I have to say a big THANKS for the great camp a couple weeks ago.  I’ve been practicing my drills, and this past weekend I hit two of my favorite trails (Hall Ranch and Walker Ranch).  I was able to wheelie up stuff that I’d never even tried before!  The cornering skills were amazing in the swoopy section on Walker.  And I *finally* made it up a hard technical climb that has confounded me for years …

Tara Peltier

Thanks for the homework!  I think I’ll take you up on a couple of these books.

I thought your “camp” was awesome.  I don’t know when I’ve experienced so many emotions and thoughts all in three days!  The camp was like a microcosm of Life itself.  Fun, challenging,  frustrating … overwhelming, exhilirating…you name it.

I went out the Wednesday following the camp, did the drills then rode the Sport loop out at McDowell three times.  Do you remember that darned hill at the end?  I had NO PROBLEM making it up the hill every time.  Funny because I watched a couple guys struggle and pop off as they practiced for the race!  HA!  They got to watch me use technique and easily make it up the hill.

On Saturday, I met Celia and we practiced the drills…then rode the Pemberton trail.  It was great.  We used each other to remind ourselves of the skills you taught us!
On Sunday…..I rode with a couple of my friends who have been riding awhile.  They took me to a new park called F.I.N.S. (Fantasy Island North Singletrack).  It is located at the base of the Estrella mountains.  Let me tell you…it was challenging.  Lots of exposure, switchbacks and climbing.  While some of the switchbacks took me out…I climbed every hill great!  I even made it up what they call Grunt Hill and shocked my friends.  They couldn’t make it up the hill.  What an awesome day.

Thank you, thank you, thank you.  My riding has improved 100%.  I am grateful for your patience with us…and me.  I look forward to taking another camp from you as I’m sure it will truly “sink in” the concepts and techniques.

Keep sharing your knowledge, it truly is a gift!

Lynne Hulvey

Incredible! It’s like night and day. I took my first ride after your clinic, it’s like taking your favorite challenging singletrack and it becomes a four lane highway; you see your favorite trail in a whole new light. Gene, I’m totally serious. I went out this morning, my purpose being to work on your vision techniques. I was amazed at how it helped me in my climbing. I make it up stuff that I know I would of walked up before talking the clinic.

Heather Anderson

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