The BetterRide mountain bike skills coaching camps from Gene Hamilton are “designed to teach you how to ride faster, more efficient, balanced, in control, and of [course], how to have more fun!”

This coming weekend (April 13-15, 2012) I will have the opportunity to attend one of these camps in person over in Ellijay, Georgia. Afterwards, I will report back to you on what I’ve learned and gained from the experience.

To be honest, at first I wasn’t sure if I would really learn anything from this camp. I mean, I’ve been riding for about 7 years now, I consider technical riding and bike handling skills to be my strong suit, and I’ve been sharing my knowledge with others via mountain bike blogs for almost 2 1/2 years now–I should know what I’m talking about.

However, after reading some of the testimonials and the credentials listed on the BetterRide website, and knowing that mudhunny learned a lot from her time at a BetterRide camp last year, I decided that I might as well sign up… if for no other reason than to make sure that when I’m giving advice here on the blog and on the forums, that I’m giving the right advice!

Photo: BetterRide.net

What I do need to learn.

After thinking about it for a few days–and after having a rough crash while downhilling at Big Creek–I realized there are actually a couple of things that I would really like to learn from this camp:

1) I really want to learn to be comfortable in the air. Sure, I can do some moderate jumps and drops now, but I am by no means comfortable in the air on a mountain bike like I am on downhill skis. This is one skill that has been my bane the entire 7 years I’ve been a mountain biker, and while I’ve gotten better over time, I’m still nowhere near what I would call a competent jumper.

Unfortunately, while learning to jump is something that I would really love to do, jumping isn’t included on the list of skills taught at the skills camp. However, BetterRide does offer a downhill-specific camp, and at the end of Day 3 of the regular skills camp there is time set aside for “Campers’ choice” practice.

2) I want to learn how to climb better. While I already consider myself a decent climber, the climbs tend to be where the pack leaders start pulling away from me. I am hoping to pick up tips and tricks on how to climb better, and maybe I’ll finally learn how to pedal in circles. (I do know the theory but I have yet to practice it on a regular basis. Maybe I just need someone to crack the whip over my head to make me learn it. 🙂 )

I’m looking forward to the opportunity to glean some valuable knowledge from a professional mountain bike coach. There are so many better riders out there than me, and I’ve never been one to settle for average. Perhaps this BetterRide camp is just the thing I need to step up my game!

Stay tuned for my post-camp blog post about my experience and what I’ve learned.

# Comments

  • trek7k

    It’s funny how bad habits can creep into your form over time – I think you may be surprised at how much you learn! From what I understand the camp also gives you drills and things you can practice to make sure you’re always in the right form. I definitely need to do something like this soon…

  • mtbgreg1

    I’m definitely looking forward to it, and I’ll be sure to keep an open mind 🙂

  • treky92

    Would definitely love to go to one of these some day. I am sure there is a ton i could learn and improve on.


    I was going to do this last year but was out of town. Maybe I can do the one they have this year.

  • Spartan

    Wow I just looked it up. it is pricey. The website doesn’t really tell you what is included in the price.
    @mtbgreg. do they provide meals and Lodging?? or is just the classes only?
    In any event,
    I wish we had some local pros that would do stuff like this.. There could be a little bit of money to be made by someone giving out lessons for a few hrs on a weekly basis at Blankets Creek or a local trail.. I played college hockey on a scholarship and played pro for a few yrs after. I always made money in the offseason giving private lessons at the local rinks.. Of course.. I wasn’t just in it for the money. Great way to give back to the kids and stay sharp….The only way to improve is to work on the basics.. I cant tell you how many hours of my life I spent on the ice without a puck, with my skating coach, just working on skating and tight turns and power turns…etc…. The same thing applies to Mt biking…There are so many things that you just cant learn on your own.. I know most of us are not vying for a pro career. However, I want to improve so Mt. Biking is safer for me and more fun. I’m 6mos. into this and have improved but I wish I had some skill sets to work on
    Any Pros or highly experienced out there?? If you are going to go to the trail for a fw hrs anyway…why not have a little one hr session teaching skills to a group before you ride or something like that… I know there is a huge need for it.. I’m not trying to take money away from the folks at Better Ride but If he only comes to Ga once a year thats no good for me.

  • Jared13

    I can’t wait for the after action report!

    Have you looked at any books like [url=http://www.leelikesbikes.com/mastering_mountain_bike_skills_2nd_edition]Mastering Mountain Bikes Skills[/url]? It does talk about the basics and if you’re looking for more drill type info, [url=http://www.leelikesbikes.com/book-teaching-mountain-bike-skills]Teaching Mountain Bike Skills[/url] should help you out with that. Both are very good reads, IMO.

  • RoadWarrior

    Don’t know of anybody who has attended a camp who did not think it was money well spent.
    Bring all your own food, water, clothing, and a bike or two. Lodging is up to you. I scarfed off my brother for 3 nights. You get more details when you sign up.

  • RoadWarrior

    Learning to pedal in circles is easy, just pedal as smoothly as possible using only one leg. You’ll know when you get it right.

  • skibum

    Been there–done that. Was worth every penny and then some. Of course, when I did it six years ago it was a lot less expensive. Knowing what I know having done it, I still think it’s worth the price. Jeff’s right–it’ll help weed out bad habits as well as introduce new skills.

    Some are skeptical at first as you will spend hours drilling on basic skills. By the end of the third day, though, you’re a whole new rider. There’s nothing so satisfying as cleaning that rock garden or other uncleanable obstacle for the first time, and doing it like it was easy all along, maintaining flow and using less energy in the process.

  • mtbgreg1

    @Spartan, it’s just the instruction. I’m on my own for meals and lodging. Planning on camping out–looking forward to the excuse to sleep in the woods and play with fire!

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