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.
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