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The Better Ride Experience: Part I

Posted by: Jen Hanks |October 20, 2010 10:20 PM
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Mountain bike racers are always looking for an edge to improve their race speed and results.  We often hire expensive coaches, suffer through insane intervals, tweak our nutrition and take supplements, or even spend insane amounts of money to shave a few grams from our bikes.  All the while ignoring the one aspect of racing that can most easily translate to faster times on the racecourse: Riding Skills.

By improving your skills, not only do you go faster downhill, but also conserve energy so climbing that next hill is easier

This is where Gene Hamilton’s, Better Ride Clinic comes in. Gene, a professional downhiller, saw the void of qualified mountain bike skill instructors and started in 1998.  Over the past decade, Gene has dedicated his life to perfecting his coaching skills.  He has coached professional mountain bike athletes including Ross Schnell, Kelli Emmett, Chris Van Dine, Lynda Wallenfells, Andrew Pierce, Eli Krahenbuel, Naish Ulmer, Ben Craner, and Sarah Kaufman.

Most weekends Gene and his head coach Andy Winohradsky can be found teaching a variety of clinics across the country.  A Better Ride clinic lasts three days but don’t expect to be putting huge miles on the bike.  Instead, Gene and Andy teach slow and medium speed skills that, when practiced and made perfect, can be generalized to ripping down a technical downhill or carving perfect high speed turns.  As Gene points out, "practice makes permanent, not perfect.”  If you practice a skill incorrectly you will get perfect at doing it wrong.  Perfect practice makes perfect.

Prior to a Better Ride clinic Gene provides interesting reading material on imagery, pre-race routines, and the myth of "The Natural Athlete.”  This weekend two MTB Race News athletes will be attending a Better Ride skills clinic in Fruita, Colorado.

In order to measure the effects of the clinic quantitatively, I timed myself on two different local downhill runs.  I descended these moderately technical singletrack ribbons as fast as I could and my times were surprisingly consistent.  One trail I rode in 3:18 on two consecutive runs.  The other was separated by only 2 seconds over 3 runs. 

Stay tuned for a report, review, and post clinic run times after attending Gene’s highly-popular clinic.  

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