Mental Training

For more information on private mental training sessions please e-mail Gene at:

Mountain Bike Mental Training Articles to get You Riding/Racing at Your Best

Mental training is the key to success in all sports. How many times have you heard top professional athletes say, “It’s 80% mental”? I can’t recall ever hearing a top athlete say, “well I’m just physically stronger than my competition”. Imagine how much faster you would be if you could consistently have mistake free races while riding at 95% of your max ability. That is what Nicolas Vouilloz does and that is why he has 10 World Championships. Do you really think he is stronger and/or has more skill than Steve Peat, Chris Kovarik, Cedric Gracia, or Sam Hill? I don’t think so, he has won 10 World Championships because he can consistently have a “peak performance” on race day.

I focus on mental training for my own mountain bike racing and encourage the students in my mountain bike school and mountain coaching sessions to use imagery. During my mountain bike lessons and my mountain bike camps imagery is a great way to practice mountain bike skills. A mountain bike coach who just focuses teaching physical mountain bike skills is selling your short. Please read and study my mountain bike training articles below if you want to master your mountain bike skills.

Downhill Coaching

Learn the Skills to Get Faster Guaranteed

Dirt Magazine to 2009 Pro 4x and Jr. Cat 1 Downhill US National Champion Mitch Ropelato in a interview in the Oct. 2009 issue:

Dirt Magazine: “You seem to be able to turn amazingly, what do you put that down to? Got any special tires on there?

Mitch Ropelato: “Ya, Gene Hamilton is to thank for that, I took is clinic last December in Bootleg Canyon and he was able to show me the correct technique I needed to pull them off.”

With over 28 years of coaching experience including 19 years coaching downhill mountain biking, BetterRide Head coach Gene Hamilton knows how to get you riding at your best. He has coached many of the best US racers  (National Champions Mitch Ropelato, and Jackie Harmony, EWS stars Cody Kelly, Shawn Neer, and McKay Vezina, Olympic BMX Sliver Medalist Mike Day, National Dual Slalom Champion Luca Cometti and just over 100 more pro downhill and/or enduro racers). Gene was a pretty good racer too, in 16 seasons as a pro downhill racer he has won a Silver (2002) and two Bronze Medals (2006, 1999) at the UCI World Masters Championships.

What You Will Learn

You will learn the core, fundamental skills of downhill mountain bike riding and racing. These core skills are not intuitive, unless someone taught you them it is unlikely that would know, understand and most importantly consistently do them.

Few US racers know the core skills and even fewer can do them well, I, BetterRide FounderGene Hamilton did not learn many of these skills until his sixth through tenth seasons as a pro racer. My BetterRide coaches really get the rider to understand these techniques with our explanations, demonstrations,  drills and then on trail application of the skills. You will also learn the drills that you will take home with you for further practice to master these skills.

Core Mountain Biking Skills Learned In Camp

  • Correct Body Position, so you can ride smoother, faster and with more control
  • Vision – How to Look Ahead Correctly! We all know to look ahead but few racers do it as well and consistently as Greg Minnaar, we will teach you how your vision works, how to look ahead and give you vision drills to master your vision
  • Bike Set up for Optimal Riding and Control
  • How to Corner like a Pro!    with Take Home Drills to Master your cornering
  • Advanced Cornering Technique
  • How to Brake to Go Faster!
  • How to Use Your Brakes for Speed
  • Correct Technique for Downhill Switchbacks
  • How to Manual
  • How to Clear Large Obstacles
  • How to Interpret the Trail to Ride Fast and Smooth
  • How to Pump the Trail for Free Speed
  • How to Clear Obstacles and Smooth out the Trail with Bump Jumps
Camp Overview

This is the most effective and informative downhill/enduro skills coaching you will ever attend

Starting in a safe learning environment I 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 BetterRide I really enjoy helping others and would love to share these techniques and the drills for practicing, getting good at and eventually mastering these techniques with you.

Day 1

  • How to ride in balance, in control and efficiently. Learn correct body position, balance and weight placement for 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! I will teach you where and how to look ahead, how this effects your riding and how to improve your vision skills.
  • How to manual
  • How to fall safer
  • Break for lunch and hit the trails to work on morning skills
  • Wrap up and review of the day’s skills

Day 2

  • Review of day 1, questions?
  • How bikes corner, how to corner just like Greg Minnaar, 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
  • Break for lunch and hit the trails to work on morning skills
  • Wrap up and review

Day 3

  • Review of both days and questions, review drills
  • How to pump and gain speed and control all over the track
  • How to pump corners for added speed
  • How to balance on a bike, how to improve your balance, how to trackstand
  • How to do downhill switchbacks 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
  • The bump jump to smooth out the rough sections and take the fast line smooth
  • Campers’ choice, skills the campers want further work on
  • Break for lunch and hit the trails to work on morning skills
  • Wrap up and review
Camp Goals

I have designed my Downhill and Enduro Mountain Bike Camps to help you with both the mental and physical sides of downhill mountain biking. My goal is to help you reach your potential whether you are an just getting into the sport or an experienced pro racer. You will be taught the core skills of mountain biking and the drills to master these skills. 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.

Pro Racers Review

“Wow, after years of racing professionally in the US and on the World Cup you (Gene Hamilton) really improved my understanding of cornering. I am cornering faster and with more confidence”. Chris Van Dine – Cannondale factory team, after just one 6 hour session

“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 Canfield-Canfield Brothers Bikes

Mountain Bike Camps

Mountain Bike Camps

BetterRide Mountain Bike Skills Coaching, Camps and Clinics have been designed to teach you how to ride faster, more efficient, balanced, in control and of coarse how to have more fun! Are you ready to create a BetterRide, come join us.

Cross Country Race Camp

Race faster, ride with more confidence, ride more efficiently, and shave minutes off your times! The best athletes 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.

Women’s MTB Camp

BetterRide women’s only 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.

foot placement

Downhill Skills Training

With over 20 years of coaching experience including 12 years coaching downhill mountain biking, BetterRide Head coach Gene Hamilton knows how out to get you riding at your best. Gene is a pretty good racer too, in 16 seasons as a pro downhill racer he has won a Silver (2002) and two Bronze Medals (2006, 1999) at the UCI World Masters Championships.

how to brake on a mountain bike

BetterRide Mini Camps

If you can’t take a day off work to make it to one of our signature three day camps, then our 2-Day Mini-Camps are the best way to improve your mountain bike skills. These camps are offered around the US and Coached by BetterRide Certified Coaches, hand selected and trained by Gene Hamilton to teach the BetterRide Curriculum effectively.

Private Skills Coaching

Gene Hamilton is a licensed USA Cycling Expert Coach and has over 19 years of coaching experience. His coaching highlights include coaching many top pro racers (Ross Schnell, Mitch Ropelato, Lynda Wallenfels, Chris Van Dine, ..) and 100′s of riders who just want to get better.

I Love My Job!

A recent email that made my day:

Dear Gene,

I hope this message finds you doing well and on your way to a speedy and complete recovery. I am thankful you were willing to continue with our class despite the challenge of your broken foot.

It has been nearly a month since I finished your camp in Fruita, Colo. You were absolutely right when you said if we practiced your drills off the trail, we would notice the difference on the trail. I have spent the last couple of weeks practicing the drills here on the streets in my neighborhood. The drills returned my best dividend today when my mountain bike camp classmate, Jerry and I went for a two hour ride on the trails here in Sedona. I was amazed at the difference in my riding ability. Today’s ride was the best ride I have ever had since I first bought my mountain bike two years ago. Your superb instruction in teaching how a bike turns made the ride fun and exhilarating. I rode faster, smoother, relaxed, in control, and had fun.

The confidence in my ability to handle the trail and its features was the highest I have ever experienced to date. I successfully climbed several hills that I had previously failed to climb, I could almost hear your assistant coach Andy’s voice in my ear repeating all of the tips and techniques needed for the successful climbs. I remembered Andy telling us. “To look to victory,” as I rode through the trails technical features that I had never cleared before. It was great fun to enjoy steeps and drops that had previously intimidated me into the hike-a-bike mode. I am absolutely thrilled with the new found confidence in my riding ability. The best thing about all this is that I have even more room for improvement. You have made a believer out of me with all you taught us. Am I perfect in my riding? Absolutely not. Can I become a better rider? You bet, thanks to you, your coaches, and the superb course.

As you can tell, I am very grateful for all your class did for me. I wish I would have taken the course before I even thought about taking a bike on the trail, but it is never too late to do the right thing. A classmate struck up a conversation with me last week while we were attending IMBA’s trail building class. She said she had moved to Sedona recently and was having a difficult time riding our trails compared to where she had come from. I immediately referred her to BetterRide.

Joe Vernier, Nov. 27th, 2009