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Stop being a Mountain Bike Bigot!

In 12 years of coaching mtb skills I still cannot get over how closed minded mountain bikers can be! “Oh, he is a single speeder, they always…”, “damn downhiller’s with 8″ of travel, of course they can ride that section, no skill, the bike does all the work, bet he can’t climb to save his life”, “look at that idiot on that fully rigid bike doesn’t he know…”, etc. Well, we are doing the exact same sport! Riding bicycles off road and guess what? The Core, Fundamental Skills are All The Same no matter what kind of mtb you are riding!

Cornering on a downhill bike is fundamentally the same as cornering on a full rigid bike. There are some advanced skills you can add with 8″ of  suspension travel and cornering on a fully rigid bike is harder (because no matter how smooth you are you will have less traction on a rigid bike) but the fundamental, most important skills are the same.

This is true with jumping, climbing technical sections, descending technical sections, riding a bike!

Why is this important to you? Because if you want to improve you can learn a lot from riders that are different from you. The skill it takes for Greg Minnaar and Mitch Ropelato to corner so well is the exact same skill all mountain bikers need, regardless of the bike they are on or the label they give themselves. Think about it, if the best downhill racers in the world need those skills to corner a bike that has way better traction* than most non-downhill bikes, those skills must be extra important on a “xc” bike. So an “xc” rider can learn from the watching a rider like Steve Peat corner even though Steve is on a different mountain bike.

*Downhill bikes have longer travel/better working suspension (which keeps the tires on the ground better than non-dh bikes), downhill bikes have wider tires with likely less air pressure (producing a bigger contact patch), softer rubber compound tires (which grip way better than harder rubber but roll slower, wear out quicker and cost more) and more tread patterns designed for hooking up on the surface they are riding (providing more traction than a general purpose tread pattern).

So open your mind and stop labeling people/riders/things. You can learn from our examples/videos/coaching even if the example we us is on a much different bike that yours.  We are fortunate enough to coach many of the best races in the world in all disciplines of mtb racing and we teach them all the same core skills (although in our downhill camps we don’t teach climbing skills as climbing on a 40lb bike isn’t much fun!). Yes, we taught singlespeed World Champions Ross Schnell and Sue Haywood the exact same cornering skills in the camps they took from us as we taught World Cup downhill racers Mitch Ropelato and Jackie Harmony in their downhill camps.

Great World Cup Video Showing 2 Very Important MTB Skills!

In our mountain bike skills camps we explain that we didn’t invent the skills that we teach we learned the techniques from the best (and then broke them down into easy to put together pieces that we can explain demonstrate and then get the student to do). We often suggest watching downhill race videos for great examples of the proper techniques that we coach (for all riders: recreational, cross country, endurance, free-ride, all-mountain, single speed and downhill).

Well Mid-West BetterRide coach Chris Cornelison found this great video. It shows Nathan Rennie doing two things that we coach rides to do. Both can be seen in the footage stating at :53 in. 1. Notice how no matter how crazy the trail Nathan is always looking ahead, he never even glances down at the trail. 2. Notice how quiet is chest and head are! He could put a glass of water on his head and not spill it!

Of course mastering these skills isn’t easy, you must first understand how to look ahead and how to stay smooth and in balance and then practice them using drills (just throwing yourself down a gnarly trail will just teach you how to tense up and ride defensively) which is why we are here!

BetterRider Mitch Ropelato Beats World Champ Greg Minnaar!

Great weekend of racing at the Triple Dip at the Sol Vista Bike Park! Three fun and challenging tracks, tight racing, great organization (stats and timing went off perfectly) and great prizes (thanks to the town of Granby and SRAM).  Three downhill races on three separate tracks made for a great weekend of racing.

The Pro men’s class saw a different winner in each event and some tight racing. Mikey Sylvestri through down a super fast run to win the first race on Stranger (last years Amateur National Champs track), World Champ Greg Minnaar won the chainless race on Cheese It to Ashley Larry (one of my favorite training tracks) and Sick Mick battled though broken ribs to win the final race on Drifter to Lemonade (last years Pro National Championship track)

What a great event for BetterRide racers!  BetterRider Mitch Ropelato finished 3rd behind Needles and Sick Mick Hannah and just ahead of 3 time World Cup Overall Champion (and BetterRide assistant coach) Greg Minnaar in the final race to secure 5th overall in the 3 race format.  Brian Buell earned a solid 8th place and Joey Schussler was 9th (I think).

Mitch, Needles, Greg, Mick and kids, Mikey

In the Pro Women’s class BetterRiders Julie Olsen and Jackie Harmony earned  3d and 2nd place overall behind US power house Jill Kitner!

Julie, Jill, Jackie

In the 15-18 year old open class BetterRider Luca Cometti won the final race with BetterRide alumnus Alex Willie in second and BetterRider Matt Branney in 3rd! Luca earned a second place overall finish and Alex finished 4th overall.

All BetterRide Alumni Podium, Luca on top, Alex in second and Matt in 3rd!

In the old guys class, I managed to place second in all three races and earn 2nd overall behind Quentin Splauding of KHS. Shawnee Mac won the second race and finished just behind me in third. BetterRider Joe Dodds earned an 8th place overall finish and Jason Krause race to 10th overall.

 

I am already looking forward to next years Triple Dip!

Shawnee, Q and me