Kids on Bikes!

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 by allowing me to leave my block and explore unknown territory. It gave me an outlet for my boundless energy too.

As our country has gotten more into 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 too 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, they 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 the 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 overweight 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 lives, 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”.

Downhill Racer Reviews

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

Downhill Racer Reviews

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.

Chris Van DineCannondale Cut Factory Team

I now know just what I need to do to go to the World’s in 4x and downhill.

Mitch Ropelato2009 Pro 4x and Jr. Cat 1 Downhill National Champion

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.

Keenan CharltonMarch 12, 2012

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!

Graham WagnerJune 15, 2010

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!

Ayshe TuncerOct 2010

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.

ScottMay 2010

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!

DannyMarch 30, 2010

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).

Chris ShelleyJan. 2004

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…

Marla Streb2002 National Champion

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. –

Go-Ride Team

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.

Chris CanfieldCanfield Brothers Bikes, World Cup Racer

I learned more in this camp than in my entire career so far.

Andrew PierceUS Team member 2006, Go-ride Factory Team

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 !!!

Tom JudyAugust 2009

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.

Santiago Garcia IIIJuly 2008

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.

Tony SamsOctober 2007

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!

Lisa Myklak2006 US Open Champion, 2002 Collegiate National Downhill Champion

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!

RichApril 2011

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