Wow, more excited emails from students, then one about a blog post.

This blog post (the  number 1 thing holding you back post) could not have come at a better time! And it is so true. XC Ontario Cup #3 is on May 30 and I’ve been stressing myself out since my first preride on the weekend by telling myself that I’m not good enough to do this race. The race is combined as a Canada Cup race – so it is a lot harder than I’m used to for an Ontario Cup. I have one really weak skill in XC – log overs on a steepish climb (or on any climb depending how big the log/roots bit is). And the course is just littered with them. Steep climbs with big roots/logs. Even logs on flat ground trouble me if they are big enough (and there’s a few biggies on the course!). I constantly smack my cranks against them or have no momentum because I’m scared if I go faster, I’ll just crash harder (happened a few times before).  I spin out, stall without the momentum I need, or I just put my foot down in defeat. And to add to it – the Canada Cup start time schedule is different – so now the Senior Sport Men are in our start time too instead of later in the day. I’ve never had a pack of those fast guys on the course at the same time as me before! Combined with all the tough spots on the course…well….I’ve been telling myself all week that I can’t do this race. That I’m not good enough for a Canada Cup.

My Elite racing friend took me on a preride of the course and watched me conquer similar sections and spin out/stop on other sections. He gave me some advice on body positioning and technique but told me that my problem wasn’t the skill, it was psychological. I’m so used to telling myself that I can’t do it, that I’ve spent so much time NOT doing it. I went to the local forest yesterday for a 3 hour enduro ride where I started from scratch on the skill and worked my way up bigger and bigger logs/roots-on-hills. I can lift my front wheel better and I can now get up and over things I wasn’t getting before. It’s a start. But your blog really hit home this week! I do admit I am still nervous like heck for the race on Sunday and I’m still battling the voice of the mind!
More than my fitness or anything else! It really is true …”Fear is the mind killer” -Dune.

Thanks Gene!


The 4th Thing You Can Buy That Will Instanty Improve How your Bike Handles!

Well it sounds like quite a few of you have gone out and gotten shorter stems, wider bars and bigger tires so here is the 4th thing you can buy.  Go out and get an adjustable height seat post like the Gravity Dropper.  I have had a Gravity dropper for around 10 years now and can’t imagine riding without one.  Descending with your seat at full height for proper leg extension when pedaling is not safe, provides much less control and is out right scary. By dropping your seat 3-5″ you are able to lower your hips, have more shock absorption, separate  from the bike easier and have way more control descending. Being able to lower and then raise your seat at the flick of a switch is one of the best inventions ever for mountain biking.

I personally like the Gravity Dropper post as not only were they the first, their product is the simplest making it very dependable.  It is simply powered by a coil spring instead of air like most other models.  Specialized, Crank Brothers and KS all make nice adjustable height posts too but I have seen and heard of (many of my friends are bike mechanics) the air posts blowing out and using air pressure.

No matter which post you decide on this will be one of the coolest parts purchases you ever make for you bike.  Look for my article on the absolute number one purchase you can make to improve your bike handling coming soon.

Just found this emails in response to my July 2007 newsletter:

Hey Gene!

Thanks for another great article. I love getting those from you. They really stimulate the mental side of the sport.

Anyway, Sheri got me my gravity dropper seatpost from you and I absolutely love it! Between your training camp and the seatpost I have been able to ride stuff that has been frustrating me the last couple of years.

Jack Boltz

Just wanted to let you know that the Gravity Dropper is fantastic!  What a cool invention.  It helps immensely.  I used it too many time to count on my trip to Steamboat last week.

Thanks again for the Gravity Dropper!

Another Thing You can Buy and Instantly Have More Bike Control!

Last month we talked about the control you get from a short stem and wide bar combination and hopefully you have experimented with that set up.  Now for another great bike handling increase, tires! Get ye some wide tires (2.2-2.5) and run lower pressure (20-32 pounds of pressure depending on body weight and tire type.  For instance on my xc bike I run 30 pounds of pressure and weigh 188 pounds.  On my downhill bike with downhill tires (which are much thicker, stronger and heavier) I run as little as 22 pounds depending on the track.

What is the right pressure for you?  Experiment!  Find the lowest pressure you can run without pinch flatting (if you run tubes) rolling the tire or dinging your rims (if you run tubeless).  For lighter riders this will be somewhere between 18-24 pounds and for bigger riders some where between 25-38 pounds.

Why a bigger tire and less pressure?  More traction and shock absorption.  Instead of deflecting off small rocks and roots your tire will simply compress and roll over the rock or root.

There is a big misconception in mountain biking that the more tire pressure you run and the narrower your tire the faster you will roll.  Well, that simply isn’t true and here is a link to a study that proves this:,%20bredde%20og%20knastens%20innvirkning%20-%20schwalbe.pdf

Reading this study shows that wider tires (given the same tread pattern) roll faster/easier than narrow tires and less pressure also rolls faster/easier offroad! So much less rolling resistance it makes up for the added weight of wider tires.

Now for tread design.  What tread is best for me? First figure out your goal.  Is traction and control my number one goal? or is it rolling resistance because I have a technically easy but long ride (like the Leadville 100).  If control is my goal I want to use a more aggressive tread pattern (larger knobs) if low rolling resistance is my goal I want to use a semi-slick or short, tightly space knobs.

Then think about the typical conditions you ride in, in Colorado we tend to have hard packed trails that when dry get a layer of dust on them.  On the East coast and Pacific NW they have softer soil and mud is more common. On hard conditions big blockly knobs of medium height that don’t flex a lot work best.  In loamy to muddy conditions slightly taller knobs with more space between each knob dig into the earth and shed mud better.  Most tire manufacturers will explain on there website what each tread pattern is designed to do so do a little research.

Tires also come with different rubber hardness.  In general the softer the tire the better traction at a cost off wearing out faster and rolling slower. The harder the rubber the faster it will roll, the longer it will last but the less control you will have.  Each tire manufacturer has different names for their tire compounds so do a little research to find the ones best for you.

Your tires are your contact with the ground so spend some time choosing the best tire for you. Lastly be weary of internet reviews as often the reviewer is not qualified to review the tire.  Example: “I hate this tire, it slides out in the corners too much”, well, does the reviewer know how to corner correctly? Does he have the right tire pressure?

Create your best ride yet,


This email from a student made my day!

I am so fortunate to meet and coach such wonderful, inspirational people.  This email made my day:
I attended you Bend, Oregon camp in Aug of 2009. I had just purchased my Trek 8.8 in June and joined a local club and had done a few rides before I left for Bend. Being 53 yeas old, I was hoping to get some good habits before I developed to many bad ones (already have enough of those) and give myself a jump start on the people who figured they knew all they needed to know about mountain biking. I  took some serious crap for spending $600.00 on a mountain bike camp. Why I would do that when there are good riders here just ask them. Well here we are 8 months later and I talked myself into entering the 2010 Shasta Lemurian here in Redding to see how I would do after practicing for the last 8 months. I entered the 45-54 class of the 8 mile short course. Wow!! What a difference a passionate teacher can make. I tried to stay very consistent in the 4 mile uphill so I wouldn’t totally exhaust myself and try to make up what I could in the downhill. The Vodoo mind thing is amazing along with all the other skills and I passed 7 riders going down, having to leave the best line several times to get around. This singletrack downhill is last part of both the 20 and 26 mile courses and has many oshit moments in the rocks. I was able to get back most of what I had lost and finish at 56:13, 2nd in my class 10 seconds behind first.Overall in short course was 46 minutes. Now it is time to work on hard my climbing so I push the front runners a bit more.
Gene all I can say is heartfelt thanks for bringing this passion for mountain biking and the skills you have given us to work with and practice. Looking forward to the spring racing here in Northern most Calif.
Thanks Again
Larry Henninger