Be sure to check out Part 1 of this feature.
There are a whole host of reasons to take a mountain biking clinic. Heck, Greg Heil’s previous article, “why everyone should take mountain biking lessons”, is enough to convince even the most seasoned veterans amongst us to sign up. The primary reason for taking a lesson or clinic is usually that you want to get better at mountain biking. As I mentioned in Part 1, I routinely have fear of death or dismemberment while mountain biking. Ok, so maybe I’m being a touch dramatic, or perhaps even have an overactive imagination, but there’s some truth to the statement. Mountain biking has always been extremely enjoyable for me. However, on almost every ride there’s a certain amount of fear that I encounter. And hike-a-bike. I hate both.
After convincing a friend to sign-up with me, we both made our way to Sedona for a two-day, luxurious clinic. Well, luxurious for me requires good food, good company, and beer. The Beti AllRide Clinic had all three.
Sunday: Day 2
You can either do one day or two days worth of instruction for this clinic. A fair number of the women had opted for the one day clinic. I decided to splurge and attempt to eek out every bit of mountain biking skills I could from this clinic. The smaller attendance on day two led to smaller groups for much more personalized instruction, so I couldn’t complain.
Breakfast started similar to the day prior, with fantastic food and hot coffee. We made our way back to the park to re-solidify some of the techniques we had developed on Saturday, as well as to learn a few new skills. I will say that I wasn’t too excited to spend the morning pedalling around in a grassy field. I wanted to go shred some fantastic Sedona singletrack! But I obliged since these were professionals, after all.
After working on some fundamental techniques again, such as wheelies and bunny hops, we moved to the ramps to learn how to huck off of drops. Again, I was like a kid in a playground. I honestly could have done that all day!
As lunch approached, we packed up the field and headed over to Bike and Bean for lunch and the afternoon trail ride. After a day and a half of working on drills and biking, it was quite convenient to stop at a bike shop and coffee shop all in one.
We struck out on Slim Shady, part of the Highline trail system, for an afternoon shredfest on double black diamond trails. The format was similar to the day before, except that there were fewer stops to session the harder sections and more shredding. The trails offered every aspect covered in the morning clinics. Even after facing the toughest sections that would have likely left me in near tears just a few short days prior, you couldn’t wipe the smile from my face!
I learned more than I expected at this clinic. And while you can read about proper technique until your eyes burst, there’s no comparison to having professionals show you in person. The biggest aspect I took away from this clinic is that when you have proper technique, the most mundane looking curve, drop, or even entire trail can be an absolute blast to ride. I can’t even explain in words the sheer bliss I experienced after nailing a curve with proper form, except that it felt like mountain biking ecstasy!
I’m barely scratching the surface of what was covered in the clinic, but here are the major and most beneficial (to me) techniques that were taught:
1) Proper body positioning over your bike for all trail conditions. This ranged from ascending, descending, and turning. The major point that the coaches stressed was that your bike is light and your body is heavy (relatively speaking, of course). You need to know how to position your body so you can stay in control of your trusty steed.
2) Techniques for getting up and over obstacles. This was the main reason for me attending the clinic, and the coaches did not dissappoint! We learned how to do manual lifts, pedal wheelies, and a whole host of other techniques. No more bad bunny hops for me!
3) How to properly roll/drop off obstacles. When riding new trails, you will always come across unknown obstacles. Sometimes you don’t have the opportunity to safely stop. Hitting the brakes out of fear can be one of the worst reactions to have, and the most dangerous when it comes to drops… especially if you come into these types of obstacles with speed.
4) Taking the most effective lines over rocks. I usually avoid rocks while ascending at all costs. And if you truly look at trails while riding, it seems that most other do this as well by the trail creep that occurs at technical features. However, most of the time, taking the route straight up the rocks is the most efficient and prevents your tire from spinning out. Being able to ride the trails right behind the coaches, who mountain bike for a living, was an extremely effective teaching method.
5) Cornering. To say that I was cornering incorrectly is an understatement. You wouldn’t expect setting up cones in a grassy field to be an effective means for teaching this type of technique, but you can’t cheat on grass.
The Beti AllRide Clinic wasn’t your grandma’s social gathering and would have even made Susan B. Anthony proud. There aren’t many mountain bike clinics with women teaching women, and I believe this is one of the strong suits of this clinic. It provides an effective atmosphere and great camaraderie, sometimes with (inappropriate) jokes that would make men cringe in awkwardness. If any of this sounds up your alley, the Beti AllRide clinic has 4 total clinics, with two more (Keystone, CO and Crested Butte, CO) this year.
“Let me tell you what I think of bicycling. I think it has done more to emancipate women than anything else in the world. It gives women a feeling of freedom and self-reliance. I stand and rejoice every time I see a woman ride by on a wheel…the picture of free, untrammeled womanhood.” Susan B. Anthony