Advice for Beginner MTBers

Mountain biking is a sport that takes many years to master, so seeking skills coaching early in the journey is important for later progression and safety. But there's so much to learn and so many courses on the RLC website that it can be a bit overwhelming. New members often ask me "where should I start?"  Let's answer that question: 

Suggested Course Order

1. A great place to get started is exploring the Welcome Riders section. Introduce yourself to other members and learn about how the site works. This section will answer many of your initial questions.

2. The first course I would suggest looking at is Trailhead Tip Traps. These lessons offer advice on how to avoid the tip traps you'll encounter when taking advice from well-meaning riders at the trailhead. There's no practice exercises to do, just lots of thought provoking concepts. Don't be led astray by generic trailhead advice! 

3. The first course...

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Online Practice Jam Gets Results

In early July, 50 riders registered for a month-long Online Practice Jam focusing on the Baseline Balance Skills course. They had the opportunity to work on their track stand, hopping, and rocking skills with each other and several RLC coaches and ambassadors via a private RLC community forum.

This Jam was led by Griff Wigley (Coach) and Kai Ashbee (Ambassador). When they weren't busy running the Jam, they practiced right alongside the other participants.

What is a Jam? 

If you're not familiar with the RLC Online Practice Jams (this was our third), here are the basics:

  1. Jams are time-limited events done in a private online forum.
  2. A small, focused group along with a common goal has been proven to help members turn their practice intentions into actual practice sessions.
  3. At the start of a Jam, everyone posts what they plan to practice, how often, where, etc. Throughout the Jam, everyone posts updates. Posting videos of practice sessions is encouraged.
  4. Feedback is...
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Tune Up Mini Course - Sample Lesson!

 

I'm always adding content to the site, whether it be a full-size course that covers a key skill, or a themed course that tackles a specific aspect of mountain biking. This mini-course's theme is: UP! I created it with two goals in mind:

  1. To focus on the 'UP' part of your skillset: ledges, climbs, and even energy levels. In mountain biking there is so much attention on going DOWN, and I didn’t want the UP to get left behind!
  2. Practice Inspiration: Each lesson is unique (rather than a step-by-step course) and offers insight and general drill ideas, along with links to other RLC lessons that relate so you can continue to practice at whatever level you're at!

I hope you enjoy this free sample lesson. Checkout the video above and the notes below...

Sample Lesson (#2 of 5) - Magic Acceleration

Magic acceleration is an essential skill that's easy to learn and highly effective. So much so that it works like magic, well almost....

Lesson Notes 

You weigh...

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Online MTB Coaching Rocks

Ryan Leech Connection offers the most detailed MTB skills progressions available. Compare our 40-part Bunnyhop Masterclass with a free 5-minute YouTube video and you’ll quickly see why RLC members succeed where the majority of riders fail. It’s not for lack of trying, it’s simply a lack of meaningful progressions to follow. 

But there’s more to learning a skill than just following a series of progressions, no matter how detailed they are. Everyone gets stuck at some point and needs feedback to correct a movement pattern, or even just encouragement that they are going in the right direction. And this is where online coaching really comes into its own: ask a question or post a video and receive detailed feedback anytime during the learning process. You are not alone. 

This feedback comes in two forms. Ambassadors provide general guidance from the perspective of a fellow student. They know what you’re going through because...

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Brake Modulation - a Touchy Subject!

Have you ever felt like your brakes are too powerful?

Or that your brakes don’t have modulation?

If so, then this article will explain why.

I’m going to use wheelies as context, but the theory can be applied in other circumstances too.

First off, brake modulation is when you're dragging your brakes, somewhere on the continuum between off and on.

In order to feel modulation for wheelies, your rear brake needs to be loaded, and this load is dependent on your Float Zone Weight Distribution.

For example, you WON'T be able to experience modulation when:

You’re in the front of the float zone or lower, or in other words a position where your front wheel wants to fall down forward when you’re not pedaling. If you add speed to this, then any hint of rear brake will throw the front wheel down without any chance to experience modulation. (Great for when you’re training your finger to rear brake habit).

Modulation during wheelies is...

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Winter Practice Ideas

 

Winter is prime time for cross training and refining your skills - it just requires some creativity.

Russ, one of our coaches, shares some great ideas in this video.

Do you have any winter practice ideas or suggestions to help inspire others in this community?

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MTB Skills Training Methods: Group Clinics vs Smartphone App...

Today we compare skills training options. Enjoy!

Two effective ways of learning new skills are in-person clinics and online courses. Which is better? They're both awesome but in VERY different ways.

Group Clinics
Where group clinics (or personal coaching) really shines is personal interaction with a coach, who can identify problems and provide a fix you can take with you. You can have real-time discussions and get instant feedback. And the social interaction of group clinics is a big drawcard. You’ll meet other local riders and make new friends. Some riders love this style of event.

The challenge all coaches face, however, is providing enough value to justify the price. We want you to experience progression, hence in-person coaching tends to lean on simple, easy-to-remember coaching cues. However, there’s a limit to how much you can learn or improve in just a few hours – it’s as simple as that.

It's not uncommon for students to become...

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Managing Risk to Crash Less

A while back I conducted a poll to learn more about how riders manage risk. The paradox soon became obvious:

Risk is an important part of mountain biking. “I've realized that some risk makes you feel alive, like you've accomplished something.” CW

But daily life requires that we reduce risk. “Now that I have a family and a crap load more responsibility, I take risk and analyze it a lot more to assess if it’s worth it.” KH

Yet if we are too risk averse our riding can suffer. ”I like to aim for low risk scenarios in my riding, but sometimes I feel as though aversion to risk holds back my riding progression.” RC

So the question of how to continue evolving my riding, while staying injury free is one that is always at the forefront of my mind. It’s a topic we cover regularly on my coaching site.
Here’s a brief summary, of this huge topic:

  1. Risk is inherent to our sport. It can not be escaped, only managed.
  2. Building skills can...
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When Reality Bites

Turning to the web for MTB inspiration is becoming more popular all the time. But are all those online edits and instructional videos sabotaging our best efforts to improve? RLC Ambassador, Carl Roe ponders the consequences of surfing your way to better skills.

The internet is awash with shred edits, fist-bumping bros ripping corners, whipping to the moon and living the MTB dream. These edits inspire us mere mortals to greater things and get us pumped to ride. But there is a dark side – it’s easy to become hypnotised by the stream of adrenaline-fueled propaganda and start comparing ourselves to the pros.

Back in the real world, our skills are amateurish in comparison. If only there was a way to ride just like our heros. Cue the 3-minute, “How-To” instructional edit. String together a few movements and voila, you’ll be [insert skill here] like a pro in no time… too easy!

But there’s just one problem – learning a new skill isn’t...

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Ramping Isometrics Training Program

I’m thrilled to introduce a MTB specific, time-efficient, and enjoyable strength training regime that targets weaknesses in every rider's body. Designed by one of the most passionate strength trainers in the MTB field, James Wilson.

Isometrics have you get into a position and apply force into an immovable object (in this case, a martial arts belt) which results in a lot of muscle tension, but no movement.  Ramping Isometrics have you "ramp up" the amount of tension/effort you are applying into the immovable object every 30 seconds, building up to momentary failure by exhausting the muscles ability to create more tension.

I can attest to the efficacy of the program having been testing it for the past couple of months. My glutes are firing strong and in sync with my quads which has helped alleviate knee pain. And my neck strength and posture is better, and my shoulder is feeling stable and strong thanks to a variety of tension holding positions that it doesn’t usually...

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