Member Success: An Interview with Rob Lawlor.
One of our new members, Rob, has been posting some amazing progress videos in the RLC Group so we decided to ask him a few questions about his skill development and how RLC has helped him along his journey. Rob has been a member since June 2020 (less than one year).
Before we dive into Rob’s Background, check out these epic success videos:
Rob owning the rocks with his Balance Skills:
Wheelie, Bunny Hop, 180 Nose Pivots off The Ledge:
I started RLC with the 30-Day Wheelie Challenge in June 2020. Before that, I didn’t have very much mountain biking experience.
I first bought a mountain bike in 2010. I took it off road a few times, but that was really just muddy paths, nothing that required any real skills. However, on one occasion I did decide to jump in at the deep end. I drove to Wales, pushed the bike to the top of Snowdon (the highest mountain in Wales) and rode down. I went over the bars a couple of times (very slowly), but ultimately had a great time. But I was mainly using it to get around town, so I bought a road bike and sold the mountain bike.
In 2015, I moved to Ilkley. With Ilkley Moor on my doorstep, I thought it was time to get a mountain bike again. For context, Chris Akrigg’s “As It Lies” and his section of “Road Party 2” are filmed on – or near – Ilkley Moor.
I’d ride to the top on the road and then ride down the Moor, trying to ride as much as I could, but getting off for the trickiest bits. And there are some very tricky bits, as it isn’t designed for bikes.
A couple of years ago, I decided to try to learn to wheelie (for no particular reason). I made a little progress, but it ended up being frustrating. My approach was all wrong. I was just chasing the front wheel faster and faster trying to keep it up. I wasn’t able to get to the float zone.
I signed up for the 30 day Wheelie challenge in June 2020. It took me a lot more than 30 days to do it, but I did make much more progress than I had been making before. It became clear where I had been going wrong and I got to experience the float zone, and since starting it I have done some pretty good wheelies.
On one occasion, I wheelied all the way out of the car park. “We’re gonna need a bigger car park,” I thought to myself, smugly. Though it turned out I didn't, because I haven't managed it again since.
I wasn’t consistent, and I guess I had plateaued, so I did what any self-respecting person would do. I quit.
By this time I had signed up for the full RLC package, so I had access to all of the other lessons.
There was so much to learn and I was making more progress in the other lessons, so it just became more attractive to practice other skills.
I could already wheelie well enough for most practical purposes on a trail and there were so many other little things to learn that were quicker wins.
So rather than spending a lot of time dedicated to one skill, I have learnt lots of little skills (e.g. to get up ledges or to get round tight switchbacks), each helping me to deal with the difficult/technical trails that I like to ride.
Who says quitters don’t win?
I’ve always thought quitting is an under-rated strategy. If no one ever quit anything, people would never have time to try anything new.
I do plan to go back to the wheelie course at some point. I really liked the feeling of the float zone, so I want to perfect them for that reason alone – but it's just not a priority for me at the moment.
I usually get out 3 times a week for between half an hour and an hour. Before, I would go for a ride on the Moor at the weekend, with maybe a short practice while out there, and then I’d practice skills in the car park during the week.
For the last couple of months, I’ve been almost exclusively practicing skills in the car park. Partly because the Moor has been too boggy, and partly because I’ve just been enjoying the skills practice so much. I also recently bought a street trials bike so my long term plan is to try to use some of the trials skills to help with the trickier sections on the Moor.
I think there have been two big moments for me. The first was actually pretty early, only a few months in. On part of the trail on Ilkley Moor, there are some big rocks. Most riders go around it (At least, the people I’ve seen). I wondered if it would be something I could do in the future, but it didn’t seem like something I could do in a matter of months. I practiced a number of skills on the RLC platform, received coaching, and ultimately learned how to tackle some tricky lines on these boulders.
More recently (at the end of January), an RLC member posted a video of a rotating nose pivots drop around a corner. Before RLC, it never would have occurred to me that I’d be able to do that. But now I thought: I bet I could do that. I had already learnt rotating nose pivots and I had learnt nose pivot drops, so all I needed to do was to put the two together.
The next time I had a chance to get out on the bike, I gave it a go. After maybe 10 or 20 failed attempts, I started to get close. A few more attempts and I got it.
I am beginning to recognise that there are common movement patterns that can be applied in different ways or in different contexts, to achieve different results.
I’ve also realised, that if I can work out a skill in my head, that is often half the battle. On those occasions, when I think I have made a breakthrough, I’m dying to get out on the bike to see if it will work.
The detailed breakdown of each technique or skill is very helpful. So I often end up learning one part without even trying to do the full movement at first. That alone helped me pick things up quite quickly.
Second, the coach's feedback helps identify a problem or to suggest a new approach. Sometimes they even just remind you of something you did a few lessons back, but you’ve already forgotten.
Over the last 5 years, RLC has helped thousands of riders reach their goals. We’ve received an overwhelming amount of positive feedback from our members and we’ve seen them make some serious progress in their skills.
Click to LEARN MORE.