Originally posted on kingdomexperiences.com
By: Collin Daulong
Mountain biking and instruction are two things that have not come together universally until relatively recently. I have done some thinking on why this is and came up with a few reasons why.
“It’s as easy as riding a bike”; one of the oldest cliches in the book. Used to describe anything that is easy or intuitive; mostly used because of how young we are when we start riding a bike.
The sport of Mountain Biking is relatively young, only in the 70’s did Gary Fisher and Joe Breezer start making klunkers to descend down sketchy fire roads with reckless abandon.
The final reason why I think these two have not been tied together more tightly is because the race scene has been relatively under exposed compared to some of it’s other outdoor counterparts like skiing and snowboarding.
Now that we are living in the age of social competition like Strava, the price of admission in the form of equipment is becoming lower and race formats are becoming more friendly for all ability level and age groups, we are seeing more and more people seeking out assistance in the form of instruction to make themselves better riders. I cannot stress enough the importance of getting targeted instruction – even if you think you do not need it (sure says the guy trying to sell instruction). Before you judge, let me explain myself in the form of a story.
I have been deeply passionate about all things mountain bike since around 1997. I was a “husky” kid with pimples, braces and 4 eyes who did not fit into the regular repertoire of middle school and high school sports (let alone their jerseys) so I sought out something I could call my own: mountain biking. Ever since then I have made it a goal to remain competitive against myself and try to be my best. Over the years I thought I had gotten it, I was riding faster and faster, becoming more skilled, cornering better and even getting fit!
Last year, I took a certification class to become a certified mountain bike instructor through PMBIA. I went in expecting to check off boxes and not learn much that would be new, as I felt that the skills taught were things I was doing intuitively for years and even decades. I went in with an open mind and acted like a sponge. Many of the things we learned like how to shift your weight when climbing, how not to shift under load and using front brake versus rear brake….boring right? Especially at my superior level (insert heavy sarcasm)?!
And then BOOM, it happened, I learned something game changing, something that I use hundreds of times a ride that sets my riding apart – it was the butt smear. Ah yes, I am sure you are dying to hear more about my butt smear! It is actually a pretty ingenious way of thinking about cornering and how to position yourself and your butt for that matter. It means that when you go around a corner imagine smearing your butt on the outside edge of the corner to position your body correctly to get the best traction to carry your speed better. In all honesty this is something that I was doing for years prior, but it was not until I had an instructor help me visualize it in this way that helped me optimize the motion. This visualization and different way of thinking about something has lead to an increased amount of fun and excitement on EVERY SINGLE RIDE I have had since then.
There is a quote: “the physician that treats himself has a fool for a patient” and this could not have come to life more thanin the PMBIA Course. I am not saying instruction is for everyone or for you, but what I am saying is that if you open yourself to the opportunities that targeted instruction can present it can enhance EVERY SINGLE RIDE of yours after that.
Now let’s go smear our butts and ride to a better future!
Kingdom Cycling & Experiences are purveyors of authentic mountain & gravel cycling experiences in New England for all ages and abilities! We also specialize in mountain bike kids camps, skills clinics and mechanical clinics.