A couple months ago, BetterRide coach/Crested Butte-local Andy Shabo and I were talking about biking over beers. I was carrying on about how I can’t seem to get enough of mountain biking these days, but I also know my riding leaves a lot to be desired technique-wise. At age 36, I’d like to think some of my best years of biking are still ahead of me—especially since I started riding later in life. But it felt like my riding had plateaued after seven or so years of steady riding, with obvious room for improvement. “I just want to be smoother, more efficient, better at braking and cornering … better at biking,” I said to Shabo. He started telling me about the BetterRide Camp that was coming to Crested Butte in June during Crested Butte Bike Week and how, above all else, it’d enable me to have more fun on my bike. Sold.
The three-day camp spanned more than 20 hours of drills, tutelage, and trail sessions. We practiced wheelies and worked our way up and down switchbacks and rocky outcroppings with an entirely new perspective. We learned to stay balanced, get low, and then get lower. The sheer amount of information provided will keep me learning for years to come.
Shabo said the results of what we learned would be revealed over time through a series of “Ah Ha” moments, and he was exactly right. I’m pretty sure my riding partners are already tired of my on-trail “tips” and exuberance over newfound vision and body positioning. Meanwhile I feel like a rider seeing the trail for the first time. It’s pretty cool. Many thanks to BetterRide Coaches Andy Shabo and Heidi Koeman. —MH
+ Lessons Learned from BetterRide Camp
• Body positioning and balance are key. I’ve always known that, but didn’t put all the pieces together until a coach broke it down into individual steps and focus points.
• Use Your Vision: always be looking two steps ahead (not down) and don’t ride blind into consequential terrain. This sounds pretty obvious but I’ve noticed improvements in my line selection and cornering since taking part in the camp.
• Don’t back away from fear. When I did, I ended up crashing off a pretty mellow log ride.
• I tend to look down a lot and it’s a bad habit. Proper position is: Chest down, chin up, eyes looking ahead. And smile.
• Bad habits are hard to break.
• The path of least resistance is not always the most efficient way to travel.