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 BetterRide.net 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
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.