By Coach Andy Somerville
Learning how to ride better (and faster if that’s your goal) takes time, practice and commitment.
For riders serious about attaining new levels of confidence, performance and fun, there are two shortcuts to riding better, faster, or riding faster better:
Shortcut #1: Work with a skills coach
Shortcut #2: Add a RipRow to your regime
Shortcut #1: Working with a Skills Coach
As a MTB skills coach for Lee Likes Bikes and RideLogic, I work with a broad range of riders, diverse in age, ability and riding experience. But if I had to describe the ‘typical’ student, he or she would be an intermediate rider interested in going faster downhill and flowing through rock gardens, drops and jumps.
They hire a skills coach like me when they’ve hit the rev limiter on speed and control on their home trails. They’re looking for that next gear.
Taking a MTB skills clinic is an effective shortcut to begin that breakthrough to the next level.
Pumping rocks during class. Rocks are not obstacles; they’re opportunities:
“Memories…like the corners of my mind…”
While every client realizes immediate and significant benefits during a clinic, what happens afterward is where most of the benefit lies. In a skills clinic setting, we plant seeds to grow new muscle memory patterns. When properly cultivated and nurtured, these seeds will grow into a sapling, then into a skills tree of core movements that become ingrained into the subconscious mind.
Tools and practices for ingraining new muscle memories include:
Creating new inner dialogs that are positive and intentional (e.g. new inner dialog: “Outside foot down” replaces old inner dialog: “This corner looks loose”)
Learning new body position, cornering, braking and terrain management skills you can build on or distill down as needed
Practicing and perfecting skills with practice in a driveway or parking lot where traction is plentiful and obstacles are absent
Even advanced riders need time and practice to create new muscle memories. In fact beginning riders are often at an advantage here because they have fewer bad habits to unlearn.
Regardless of rider skill, it takes time to plant and nurture the seeds of speed. This makes sense. After all, by definition: memory is time-based.
But you can you speed up the process of creating new patterns (and/or unlearning old, limiting patterns) with Shortcut #2
Shortcut #2: The RipRow
Maybe you can identify with the scenario my clinic students describe more often than not:
They commute 30-60 minutes each way to their 9-5 (or 8-6) job
They have a family, significant other or pets that need/deserve time and attention
In a good week they’re able to hit the gym a couple times and do strength, mobility and core work
They get out on the road bike a couple weekday mornings for a quick hour ride, aiming for hills or intervals to maximize their efficiency
They sneak out for an early morning trail ride on Saturday or Sunday (or both, if the stars are aligned)
I don’t know about you, but this rings familiar to me. And this time-starved scenario is where the RipRow shines. The RipRow logo is a double helix, a shape I find apropos.
Personally, I use the RipRow as a hybrid of the bike and the gym. It’s more time efficient than either, as I don’t have to drive to the gym or trailhead – I just walk out to the garage. And it’s more efficient-efficient too, as I can work on patterns and muscle memory in small chunks that add up over time. And time, after all, is what we’re fighting, preserving or leveraging to improve our riding.
This critical move — riding off a huge rock safely — is best practiced on the RipRow. Vasi Vangelos has done his share of RipRow time … and he shreds on the bike:
After using my RipRow for about 6 weeks, I’ve noticed a big difference in my riding.
In real world terms:
I feel less “rusty” when I’ve been off the trails for a week or two – I get back into the groove sooner thanks to those ingrained muscle memories
I display better hip hinge and execute with more balance and stability – my left quad doesn’t burn like it sometimes did when I haven’t ridden a long DH trail for awhile
When teaching clients, I’m able to demonstrate clean form and deep mobility right from the morning bell
My gym workouts are easier, and I recover faster from the hard ones
Last but not least, I’ve got my significant other on the RipRow and she loves it. It’s quality time together instead of separate workouts
Whether you take an in-person clinic, enroll in an online course or use one of Lee’s books as a learning tool, you can use the RipRow to flatten the learning curve to riding better faster and riding faster better.