Mtb clinic with Gene Hamilton of BetterRide.net
Just a note to “give a little back” to these boards that I enjoy so much.
I recently attended a XC mtb clinic here in mid-Tennessee (Nashville) put on by Gene Hamilton of BetterRide.net. When my Better Half asked what I wanted for X-mas this year, there was one thing on the list – mtb coaching. I became aware of Gene from his posts on this and other boards and found out that although he lives in the mtb heaven of Fruita, CO, that he’ll put on a 3 day clinic anywhere with a trail and 5 willing souls. So myself and Porterjack and NoCleverName “committed” and prayed for 2 more. And 2 more found us, and the clinic was a go and it was Good.
Here’s Gene in a nutshell: He calls me Thursday nite before the Friday clinic. His van lost it’s tranny in Memphis (3 hours out of Nashville). In the rain. Is it canceled? Is he going to be *****y? Nope. He’s rented a truck and driven into NashVegas and ordered a new tranny overnited (“Well, I always wanted a better overdrive gear.”) and is still excited to be here. And that was the last we heard about it.
The weather didn’t really work with us. Drizzly and damp, but rideable. But I dragged a lot of folks to NashVegas and we were going to RIDE, dammit!
Gene’s basic format for his 3 day clinic is half days of discussion, drills, and (gentle) critiques and a half day of trail riding. I went into it thinking that 3 days was a bit long and left thinking 3 days wasn’t near enough.
I was impressed that he has really spent a LOT of time going through the process of instructing a mtb rider and he conveys it in clear and understandable terms. Bike setup, IMBA trail rules, vision, body position, mental aspects, and lots more. The drills helped reinforce the discussion and more importantly than the drill itself was having a watchful and helpful eye giving you guidance. I mean, it’s really friggin’ hard to objectively observe yourself riding. And your buddies may or may not have the temperament and knowledge base to assess and correct your technical problems. That’s the single best reason to work with a coach, IMHO.
Even on the first afternoon’s trail ride, we were all mumbling and muttering that we “felt more comfortable”. Gene did some really great stuff by stopping us on the trail and giving us clear examples of how to look down the trail, look “through” obstacles, where the “pro lines” vary from casual lines, and the all important “look where you want to go, not where you don’t want to go” lesson. If we hit a hard section or a section that would demonstrate an earlier discussion or drill, Gene would stop the ride, demonstrate, and help us work it.
It’s been a couple of weeks since the clinic and I DEFINITELY feel smoother and more comfortable on the bike. And truthfully, it’s going to take time for everything I learned to become burned into my muscle memory. That’s when I’ll really be able to realize how much I learned. And have to learn.
Final thoughts: I am extremely pleased with the clinic and feel that I have a “coach” to refer back to, both mentally and through phone and email communications. I plan on further coaching, maybe next year, to further refine and challenge me. And there’s no better recommendation than giving up your own Cold Hard Cash.
Gene Hamilton of www.BetterRide.net rocks. Check out his page and feel free to PM me as a reference.
Lock 4 mtb trail in Gallatin, TN (outside Nashville, TN) has some sweet singletrack and is well designed and maintained by the Lock 4 Trailblazers http://www.lock4.org/ (trail map link on the middle upper right of the page, too!). And it sheds water. Great going, guys.
Thanks to Jeff Jolly of the Jolly Cyclist http://thejollycyclist.com/site/ for sharing his parking lot, fixing a fork in a flash, and being a generally good guy and shop.
Southern Culture on the Skids (http://www.scots.com/, http://www.chapel-hill.nc.us/scots/ and The Supersuckers (http://www.supersuckers.com/) for providing a soundtrack.
And of course, my Better Half, for playing Santa so well.
The opinions expressed in this post are mine and mine alone. Go get yer own friggin opinions. I payed for mine with blood, sweat, and cold hard cash.
sounds like you guys had a great weekend. maybe i'll see if i can get a handful of girls to bring him out to hot-lanta for a weekend clinic.
Or you could come to Fruita and take his clinic here, get a massage, and probably get another free pair of socks or something.
He's a good guy, a definite character (in a good way), too.
He is a good guy. RT, 2 of the attendees ARE in Atlanta. I bet you guys could get him back down here. (Don't tell anyone, but he's really a Southerner!)
Originally Posted by screampint
Of course, I've heard good things about frooooota, too.
RT, I am one of the gals from ATL who attended the clinic with Capt Pearl. It was a graet clinic and I highly recommend it to all riders from beginner to expert. Also, I have been in contact with Gene and he said he is planning on being in Hotlanta in February. Not sure of the dates yet though.
I wrote a little something about the clinic too. I'll post it in just a minute.
oooh!!! count me in! count me in!! and free socks. what more could i want?...... :D
Originally Posted by screampint
keep me updated on Feb. i'd be really interested in being part of a clinic.
Originally Posted by noclevername
This is awesome! What a great thing to know about. Thanks for sharing.
Originally Posted by capt pearl
Impy (already scheming about 5 people who might want to do this)
Sisters in Crime?
what more could i want?......
Glad to help.
Originally Posted by Impy
Gene has published his dates for a lot of clinics for 2005. You can register on active.com
January 14-16, Austin, TX BetterRide Women’s Mountain Bike Camp Three day skills camp for women, share a great learning and riding experience with other woman riders.
January 21-23, Dallas, TX BetterRide Mountain Bike Skills Camp
January 28-30, Austin, TX BetterRide Mountain Bike Skills Camp
February 11-13, Birmingham, AL BetterRide Mountain Bike Skills Camp
February 18-20, Atlanta, GA BetterRide Mountain Bike Skills Camp
February 25-27, Dallas, TX BetterRide Women’s Mountain Bike Camp Three day skills camp for women, share a great learning and riding experience with other woman riders
March 4-6 Fruita, CO BetterRide Mountain Bike Skills Camp Three day skills camp focusing on general riding skills, climbing and descending skills, energy management and FUN, guaranteed to improve your riding.
March 11-13 Fruita, CO BetterRide Women’s Mountain Bike Camp Three day skills camp for women, share a great learning and riding experience with other woman riders.
March 18-20 Fruita, CO BetterRide Level 2 Mountain Bike Skills Camp Advanced camp for riders who have already taken a camp or lesson with BetterRide.
Mar. 24-26 Boulder City, NV BetterRide Downhill Skills Camp This camp will cover all aspects of downhill and mtn. x riding, racing, and training.
Mar. 28-30 Boulder City, NV BetterRide Downhill Skills Camp This camp will cover all aspects of downhill and mtn. x riding, racing, and training.
April 1-3 Fruita, CO BetterRide Women’s Mountain Bike Camp Three day skills camp for women, share a great learning and riding experience with other woman riders.
April 8-10 Fruita, CO BetterRide Mountain Bike Skills Camp Three day skills camp focusing on general riding skills, climbing and descending skills, energy management and FUN, guaranteed to improve your riding.
April 16-17 Fruita and GJ, CO BetterRide Freeride Skills Camp Two day freeride skills camp focusing on balance, drops, descending skills, steeps and FUN, guaranteed to improve your riding.
April 22-24 Boulder City, NV BetterRide Downhill Skills Camp This camp will cover all aspects of downhill and mtn. x riding, racing, and training.
April 28-31 Fruita, CO BetterRide Mountain Bike Skills Camp Four day skills camp focusing on general riding skills, climbing and descending skills, energy management and FUN, guaranteed to improve your riding.
May 6-9 Fruita, CO BetterRide Women’s Mountain Bike Camp Three day skills camp for women, share a great learning and riding experience with other woman riders.
May 20-21 Fruita, CO BetterRide Level 2 Mountain Bike Skills Camp Advanced camp for riders who have already taken a camp or lesson with BetterRide.
May 27-29 Fruita, CO BetterRide Mountain Bike Skills Camp Three day skills camp focusing on general riding skills, climbing and descending skills, energy management and FUN, guaranteed to improve your riding.
June 3-5 Angel Fire, NM BetterRide Downhill Race Camp This camp will cover all aspects of downhill racing and prepare you for the Chile Challenge downhill race.
Hey, thanks for the info... I was in fits as whether to take his Downhill clinic or not.. Loads of cash,, knarly downhill trails in Bootleg Canyon,, the closure of Snow Summit in Big Bear CA., I wasn't sure if I should do it or not,, That note makes me feel much better about doing it.. Although I must admit,, the opportunity to get out of town and ride for 3 days was screamin' my name!!!
I will let you know how it goes..
One more Southern Camp
Hey, thanks for all the props guys and gals. It feels great to have such a positive impact on your riding. I have added one more camp to my Southern Tour, I am putting on a camp in Baton Rouge on Feb. 4-6, 2005. I stopped in Baton Rouge on my last Southern tour and met a friendly Burrito shop owner (Rocket Fajitas) who directed me to some great trails and suggested I have a camp there. Of course it doesn't hurt that it is Mardi Gra weekend!
To ensure the optimal athlete/coach ratio my camps are limited to seven riders so sign up soon.
Create a great new year,
I just realized I hadn't put my little write up about Gene's clinic on here yet. Anyway, it's kind of long but here it is.
There was a light drizzle coming down as my friend PorterJack and I headed toward the meeting area for our first day of a three day mountain biking camp. We thought we would be the first ones there but Gene Hamilton, prodownhiller and founder of Better Ride was already there. At this point, I became a bit nervous. I mean how often do you get to ride with a professional downhiller? Soon, all of the other clinic goers were there. Gene draws people from all over yet he likes to keep clinics small so he can give more individual attention to each person. The clinic consisted of five participants, capt perl from TN, James and Sandy from IN and PorterJack and myself from GA. We all introduced ourselves and got the pleasantries out of the way such as where everyone was from, what kind of bikes we all ride, how long have we been riding, what kind of pedals did we all like, you know, important stuff. It turns out that the experience and skill of our collective group seemed to be on about the same level.
It was time to get started. Gene introduced himself again and began the clinic. The first day was a lot more classroom type stuff and less riding but what we learned that first day was invaluable and set the feeling for the entire camp. At the start and throughout the three days, Gene focused on a positive mental attitude towards riding and towards life in general. He taught us ways to have a better outlook on everything we do. You may be wondering what this has to do with bettering mountain bike skills but I am here to tell you the positive mental training Gene provides made me better mountain biker. He taught us the power of confidence and translated it to the bike and from there, my skill journey took on a whole new aspect. I felt like I could do twenty foot drops; well two foot drops anyway. Also that first day, we went over bike set up. Gene recommends different bike set ups for different people and different styles of riding. Afterwards came the first skill drills of the clinic. The first skill we learned is where to focus our eyes when riding. Sounds like a no brainer doesnâ€™t it? I thought I had been looking ahead while riding for years but I learned that I really wasnâ€™t. Itâ€™s not as easy as it sounds but where you look really makes a difference. Gene taught us where to look, how to look and even gave us drills to enhance our vision.
Now we all had a positive attitude and understood where to look when riding so we started riding the bike. Using the vision techniques Gene taught us, we started to ride over small obstacles. This is when we went over the coaster wheelie. We rode towards a cone and while looking in the correct direction, we learned to pull the front wheel up and over it. Who knew it could be so easy? We continued this drill as we moved to bigger and more challenging obstacles. This was practice for those logs that are commonly found on trails around the southeast.
Lunchtime was approaching so we got a bite to eat and then headed towards the trails. We were fortunate to be able to ride the famous Lock 4 Trailblazer trails in Nashville, TN. We all eagerly mounted out bikes and rode the single track. It was great fun. At certain intervals during the ride, Gene would stop at sections on the trail to go over things with us. He showed us where to focus when riding straight and curvy trails. Another wonderful skill Gene taught us was the body mechanics of riding. He showed us how to push and pull our bodies and bikes through some of the whoop dee doos. Just by using those body mechanics alone, I was able to go through the whoop dee doos, up the other side and coast a good ways down the trail without ever having to do a single pedal stroke. This was great!!! I love learning how to save energy. We found some logs to try out our coaster wheelie skills. All of us hopped right over them with no problem. There were two overachievers in the class who did such great wheelies, they wheeled on over backwards. Ouch, but they were fine. Soon the sun started to sink into the lake and it was time to call it a day.
We arose the next morning ready for day two of mountain bike camp. The sky was dreary and the temperature was low but as Gene likes to say, we decided to â€ścreate a great dayâ€ť. We dressed warm, met at the trailhead and took a quick singletrack ride and practiced the skills we had gone over the previous day. We then met up with Gene for more skill work. We learned more efficient and effective cornering. We learned trackstanding and balancing skills. Using those balancing skills, we practiced tight switchbacks. We also learned how to launch off dropoffs, and effective braking techniques. As Gene taught us these skills, he continued to remind us to stay positive and where to focus our attention. As the clinic progress, it was amazing how Gene brought all of the skills together. Towards the end of the day, we again set out on the trail, a different section this time, to put our newly learned skills to the test. At one section of the trail, we all had a real challenge trying to get up and over this rock ledge about a foot or so high. All of us tried it, some of us made it some of us didnâ€™t. The good thing is now we all have the skills to be able to do this, we just have to learn to let our minds talk our bodies into it. This second day of camp was packed with a lot of new concepts and challenges. I was extremely exhausted by the end of the day. It wasnâ€™t really a physical exhaustion but more of a mental tiredness from consuming and digesting all of the information Gene was feeding us. It was a good kind of tired though. When PorterJack and I got back to the hotel that night we fell asleep as soon as our heads hit the pillow.
The third and final day of camp was upon us. We ate a well balanced breakfast, dressed warm, packed our bags, checked out of the hotel and headed back to the trail. The last day was mostly review of the skills we had learned and we asked a lot of questions. We rode the Lock 4 trail one last time and had a blast. When we returned from the ride, Gene realized he had forgotten to go over bunnyhopping so we covered that in the parking lot. I am proud to say I can now bunny hop over water bottles and small logs. It was so much fun learning how to separate my bike from the ground.
About two weeks after the camp, I received an email from Sandy, one of my fellow clinicees. The title of her email was â€śGene was right!!!â€ť She told us about a part of a trail she rides often that has always been a challenge to her. It is a switchback with a sharp downhill left turn with a hefty dropoff into the river if you misjudge your turning radius. She said that has always been a challenge for her but she after the camp, she put her new skills and her new positive attitude to the test. She went back out there and successfully rode the switchback and didnâ€™t even come close to falling in the river. She was so surprised with herself she went back and did it again just to make sure she wasnâ€™t dreaming.
Just to say it again, Gene Hamilton is not only a great downhiller, a great mountain biker and a great person but he is a truly gifted teacher. He broke all of the skills down and explained everything so that it was very easy to understand. Also, Gene taught us more than just mountain bike skills, he instilled confidence in us so we will be able to boldly ride where we have not ridden before. I would highly recommend this clinic to all riders, beginner through expert who truly want to be a better biker. Check the Better Ride website at betterride.net.
Cool -- thanks for the write-up.
I took one of his DH clinics in Moab a couple years ago and it was great. I learned tons and he helped me a great deal with race prep. I know I've done a full write up here a few times in the past....
Originally Posted by mtbdownhilldoll
But anyway, I think it's definitely worthwhile if you get a chance. I have a friend who just did his camp at Bootleg. Unfortunately the weather didn't cooperate (massive snowstorms) but she said she still had a good time and learned a lot. Gene's a great guy to learn from and I can't wait to do another clinic with him sometime soon!
I had a total blast at the downhill clinic in Bootleg Canyon...I was "smilin" all weekend. I'm not one for freezing cold, windy, rainy weather,, but the you and Marla kept my mind off of all that...I learned TONS, and used what I learned at the Fontana race this weekend..Kim and Nancy and I all had fun talking about what you taught us...I was more confident in my race run,, I am still waiting for final run times of us all, as there was a mix up with the clock (so, I'm not sure if I actually won the race or what, right now, I'm holding second). All I know is that I would have had a harder time getting down the mountain had I not had you in my head reminding me of what I needed to do...
Thank you and Marla for an Awesome weekend of learning and riding..It was totally worth it..
I have a couple of friends who are interested in signing up for a clinic at Bootleg when you go back..And, I am wondering, if I were to join them, (Chris was thinking of it as well), would you split up the classes or would we learn like, the next phase of the skills? Could we get in for a day,,, just wonderin'.
Thank you,and Happy Trails,
Better Ride w/ Gene Hamilton
Hey, I just got back from Gene's all women's camp in Fruita. It Rocked! Figuratively and literally! Gene is a great person, and super coach. It was a little windy and rainy while we were there, so we really focused on some core skills in town, and then hit the trails the last day and a half. I was so much more confident and felt like I could really get over the obstacles I've been facing in my riding, both rocks and mental aspects. Back on my home turf, I have been riding better than ever. I went from getting close to last to upper pack in Sport. So, if you are looking to get better and want to ride in a great place with a terrific motivator and a great coach, look no further than Better Ride! Oh, and tell him Shelly sent you :)
ps...look ahead life it makes life a lot easier than looking back!