Reviews from Passionate Riders
Hi Gene, I took your Asheville camp at the end of September (6’2″ brown hair older guy, kinda uncoordinated, with Santa Cruz you told me was way too small for me). on about 4 of my past 6 rides with my friends I usually ride with I noticed I was keeping up with them for the entire ride, without expending any more effort than usual. I usually struggle to keep up and will typically fall behind for parts of the ride. at first, I thought that they were all taking it easy that day, but after it happened several times, I thought maybe they’re not riding slower, I was riding faster (although it felt like we were all riding slower). I then thought about something I hear a lot of coaches at the college and professional level say about athletes just having made the jump from high school to college, or college to pros–“they’ll be better once the game starts slowing down for them”. I think the mountain biking game has started slowing down for me as a result of focusing on my vision and body position.
I still have a long way to go in terms of mastering the skills you taught us, but am starting to see the signs of becoming a “better rider”. thanks and feel free to edit this email and use as you wish.
Thank you for creating what has been one of the best learning experiences of our lives. We traveled all the way from Australia to attend your camp in Golden, Colorado and it was worth every penny! Andy was a fantastic teacher with great personal skills. He has our highest commendation for creating a safe, exciting and fun environment for learning.
It is refreshing to find someone who understands their field well enough to be able to deconstruct difficult and often hard to pinpoint concepts. This is a rare talent. We appreciate all of the careful thought that you and Andy have put into creating the mountain bike skills curriculum. The content was well-organized into different sections, and logically progressed from foundational skills (like body position and braking) to more difficult skills (like cornering). It is obvious that you have spent a lot of time not only thinking about how to mountain bike, but also how to teach it to others.
Learning these mountain biking skills has truly made us “betterriders”. Thank you for the opportunity to attend your camp and we look forward to attending a core skills camp #2 !
A few highlights:
I’ll write a more detailed review when I’m not exhausted, BUT, I will say that:
1) I am already a better rider after the clinic.
2) I expect with some practice of the skills I learned I will be MUCH better by mid-summer.
3) i only thought I knew how to ride a bike. Halfway through day 3 something clicked and everything felt new and better and totally awesome.
I attended the Better Ride clinic at Walnut last year and absolutely loved it. Some of the best $600 I’ve ever spent. I agree with the others – it totally opened my mind to a new and more effective / efficient way of riding (especially the cornering). It did more for my riding than any bike or component upgrade ever has!
Thanks again and best wishes for all your future endeavors.
I’m still “coming down” from the excitement of attending your mountain bike skills camp. Exciting because I have been “winging it” on a mountain bike for the last 20 years. There are no more “gray areas”, it’s now black and white. I will be practicing and implementing the skills that I learned, for the rest of my mountain bike life. When it comes to constructive criticism, I can’t think of anything that could have been improved on and have nothing to add.
This was a priceless experience that I will never forget. I’m amazed at how much better of a rider I have already become. With your skills that I learned, I definitely accomplished my goal to become a better and safer mountain bike rider.
The camp location was a 8 hr. drive for me and well worth it. For people that you have that might be “on the fence” about attending one of your camps, tell them that no matter what it takes (time and money), attend a skills camp ASAP. It will pay dividends every time they get on the bike.
I was just now sitting at my computer thinking of emailing you when this email popped up at the inbox. (I had just sent him the first follow up email after his camp)
Thanks so much for making available such a great bike skills camp. Your course has given me the foundational skills and en powered me to be the best rider I can according to the effort I put into practicing and working on the skills taught. Also thanks for sending the good info with this email, I really like the figure 8 drill and plan on making it a staple of my practice time.
Just wanted to express to you and your staff my gratitude and give props. I was one of the last ones to sign up because I was skeptical of what I could learn in the time frame for the price. Luckily I did foot the bill and was able to attend the camp in Conyers, GA (April 8 – 10).. I came away from the camp with a lot of knowledge and understanding of why the basic simple techniques are so important. Most of all I learned you have to go slow to go fast, vision is the key. I now have a greater appreciation when out riding and see many old trails as a new trail to explore and practice my skills. I could spend all day on an easy trail and have more fun than riding several trails…riding is no longer a measure of how fast I can get from point A to B. I’m gonna keep practicing what I learned and am looking forward to attending the second camp! Thanks again for all you and your staff do!
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 hey 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 California.
When anyone asks how the camp was they get an earful. I was so excited afterwards; it’s like being a kid learning to ride your bike for the first time and wanting to tell everyone they knew. I’m 43 and when was the last time I learned so much about something that I loved to do? I can’t remember when and that’s what was so great about your camp. I’m glad you made it to Bend and I’m sure it will become a regular stop on the Better Ride Tour. I look forward to your next visit.
The before and after camp riding experience has been truly transformational in raising significantly our MTB skills, confidence and pure enjoyment of riding. We are spreading the word that riders need to go your Better Ride Camp as soon as possible to experience this transformation. I recently met a friend in the middle of a single track course in the Minnesota woods. He mentioned that he had the good fortune in May of being with a group that hired you for private coaching in Moab. He was also singing high praise for how you improved his riding performance to an advanced level.
GET SMART: Gene Hamilton’s BetterRide mountain bike camps are all about vision: opening your eyes and mind to become a faster and more graceful rider. In his three-day clinics, Hamilton will re-wire your bike brain with skill drills that help you see the trails like a pro, milking terrain for momentum and carving high-speed turns with confidence and a huge smile on your face. We took a three-day camp earlier this year and immediately felt a difference on the bike. By practicing the drills before every ride and completing his e-mail homework assignments, we were able to keep improving week after week. Hamilton also brings in some of the world’s best riders — we had world champion Marla Streb on hand — to share their tips and secrets on and off the trails.
–USA TODAY adventure sports reporter and 2007 Mountain Bike Hall of Fame inductee Sal Ruibal
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!
1) 3 days is the perfect amount of time, it allowed me to shut out the rest of the world and focus on biking, by the third day I really felt a clear focus and as I mentioned above, I was bummed out this morning when I got up and realized camp was over.
2) You did a great job of getting to know everyone by first name, that was very important to me for a number of reasons
– Each time you called out my name to tell me I did something right I felt really good inside and it allowed me to stamp that feeling in my head. Also the excitement and happiness in your voice when you noticed one of us doing something right was very noticeable. Thinking back right now I can clearly remember you telling me I nailed the rear wheel lift or how smooth and calm I was on the downhill switchback. Oh yea and I remember seeing the fear in your eyes when I almost went over the handlebars during the braking section…
– Since you were continually calling out our names, it was easy for me to remember the other students names. Which made the camp even more fun because I was able to connect with the other riders easier.
This was by far the best use of both money and time in regards to my mountain bike training. Its 3 days of my life I will never forget…
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
A few notes from my recent rides:
On my first ride after camp, I focused on body position and vision for the descent. Normally my Wed night ride buddy is ahead of me, but this time I passed her and when I turned around to check on her she was nowhere in sight. She said that I took off about twice as fast as I normally do, but the great thing is, I felt completely smooth and in control. I used to think I was looking ahead all the time, but now that I focus on it, I see that that was not the case – now when I do, it makes a huge difference.
This weekend I was on some unfamiliar trail and came across a spot where the trail zigzags down into a deep ravine then immediately zigzags back out of it. This was a great place to practice both climbing and descending switchbacks.
I have always thought I was a decent descender because I could force myself to white-knuckle my way through stuff, but I never had fun that way. And I realize that I would always push my bike out in front of me, like we were two kids going into a haunted house and I was trying to make my bike go first. This weekend while I was practicing the skills you showed us I was amazed at how SMOOTH I felt. I wasn’t pushing my bike out in front of me I was in position and looking ahead and everything just worked. No skidding, no stiff arms, no terror.
The climb was more of a struggle – there was one moderate switchback then two really steep ones. I am proud to say that I eventually rode all three of them. Whenever I didn’t make one I realized that I had stopped with my eyes on the trail right in front of me. When I would remember to “look to victory” I would make it. It’s so interesting that when I would stop, I would THINK I was stopping because I had run out of steam and momentum, but that wasn’t the case – I had just convinced myself I was out of steam … when I looked to victory, I had enough left to get there.
I spend some time on drills every time I ride and I can see that the new skills are starting to burn in. I haven’t been on some of my favorites recently but can’t wait to get out and see how they feel.
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. 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.
When I used to ride years ago, my number one focus was preventing the loss momentum on a climb, through a corner, or over obstacles. I would ride harder and faster each time I went out on the trails in order to improve my ability to maintaining momentum.
I now plan on getting to all my destinations early to practice drills in a slow controlled and repeatable manner. I also plan on dedicating entire rides to working on specific skills. It is amazing that I have years of martial arts training experience that concentrated on slow deliberate skill practice and I never translated that over to MTB.
I already feel my biking skills and confidence are much greater as a result of your instruction and I look forward to building on them. In addition, despite the weather, it was really fun.
Wow, what a great class, my son and I had a great time and learned so much. We went riding this weekend and I was amazed at how much I have already integrated into my ride habits. I feel like a new rider! Thanks so much for all your help!
I have been smiling all day long today, thinking about our rad weekend together! I taught 4 of my kids how to do wheelies today and they thought I was super cool for a solid 5 minutes until they had it completely mastered and were smoking past my on their rear wheels.
Thank you forever, Gene, for sharing your passion and deciding to teach. An empowering, motivating, completely exhilarating weekend. I feel like a little kid on Christmas morning with my new toy. It was a total
Attending Gene’s camp in Sedona was one of the best decisions that I’ve ever made. You can read skills articles and watch the youtube videos all day, but these will never engrain the skills needed to become a good mountain biker. Gene’s course teaches you all of the primary skills, and then he drills them into you. You repeat these drills under his watchful eye until the become engrained. It’s been about 9 months since I attended the course and I still hear Gene correcting me if I’m going about an obstacle or turn in the wrong position. I still make every ride a learning experience because of what he taught, and my riding has improved immensely as a result. Thanks
My son took your camp in winter park at age 14. He is 16 and just completed the Laramie Epic (30 miles) last weekend. He placed 2 in the age bracket 0-29. He continues to use your techniques and tips. Smooth is fast! Your worksheets are worn out and weathered from continued use! Worth it….you bet!!!
The Camp was completely awesome. Thank you so much, I can feel my skills improving and every day I ride I practice something you taught.
Looking forward to taking it again, maybe in Fairfax or Richmond.
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