It's easy to assume that Ground Control 1 is only for those who are new to the sport. But I teach cornering in GC 1, and cornering is something that everyone, regardless of ability, can always improve on. I teach what former champion Shaums March teaches on cornering and then sprinkle in what I learned in Whistler and from other certified instructors. This makes for some of the best cornering technique out there. Some of these cornering skills are demoed here: off camber switchbacks
I've seen it happen many times. A strong sport or expert level XC racer with years of experience finally decides to give a skills camp a shot. Early in the day, they think to themselves, "I already know all this," but by the time we cover cornering, they tell me, "I really didn't know as much as I thought I did, and what you showed me really helps me get better traction in turns and helps me to feel more confident that my front wheel won't slide out."
I will admit that when I first started paying for coaching, I always wanted to go to the trails that were already the most challenging for me and practice basic skills there. But I learned there is little chance of getting the skill right when one is just trying to survive. Up until after lunch we will be practicing skills in the field and making sure they are perfect. Then after lunch we will be applying the skills on the trails.
Most of the following skills and maneuvers are taught:
My experience has been that there are many riders out there who are experts in terms of their fitness level. Many of these riders are extremely fast on a road bike, but their weakness is keeping that speed safely on a mountain bike through the more technical trail sections. If you are that type of rider, my goal is to add some solid skills to what you already have in terms of fitness, so you can be a force to be reckoned with even when the trail gets most difficult.
If you are a beginner, you have a huge advantage over many of us who grew up where there was no quality mountain bike skills instruction. You have the advantage of learning skills the right way for the first time; and because of that, you won't have to spend so much of your riding life unlearning bad habits.
In the second part of Ground Control, I will teach most of the following maneuvers:
Maneuvers that involve getting the wheel(s) off of the ground are a focus for GC 2. Beginner level riders need to be aware of these techniques and understand them, because it is only a matter of time (whether intentionally or accidently) that their wheel(s) will come off the ground. The more one understands these techniques, the less chance of injury when the wheel(s) come off the ground. Expert riders can also benefit from continued study of what the rider is trying to accomplish when he or she is in the air and why. Because as expert riders continue to push their limits, understanding text book form becomes paramount to reduce risk of injury.
Some bad riding advice that I have heard over the years is as follows:
In both Ground Control 1 & 2 I will help you understand why these and other myths are wrong and teach you better ways to ride.
The ole' saying a picture is worth a thousand words.... well here is a video of one my Launches camps: Launches camp video Please remember, we aren't doing everything perfectly; that's the whole point of the camp. We are all trying to get better all the time!
I recommend that a rider take this camp only after he or she is able to execute both correctly and consistently the maneuvers taught in Ground Control 1&2. A purpose of this camp is to present new material, but it is also to hone the maneuvers taught in Ground Control 1&2 on more challenging terrain. I have made exceptions for people to attend this camp who know they aren't able to execute everything from Ground Control 1&2, but who want an introduction to more advanced moves--especially jumping. One prerequisite for everyone is to be able to ride at least 20 miles with 1500 feet of climbing at a reasonable pace. We will spend most of the day on the trail and will eat the lunches trailside we each packed.
We will cover many of the following maneuvers:
A word on jumps and drops: I don't want anyone hurt during any of my camps for at least two reasons. 1, If you get hurt, then you are guaranteed not to have a good experience. 2, If one person gets hurt, then it ruins the camp for everyone else; and some people have traveled quite a distance to attend a camp.
With this in mind, this is a camp to hone one's skills and learn new information--not a camp to "cut one's teeth" by hitting a big feature for the first time. For example, we have a drop called "the box drop" at Oak Mountain. This camp would not be a good time for a student to try the box drop for the first time. This also allows more time for the new material learned in this camp to sink in and be practiced on smaller features. I just want to be transparent so that everyone knows that I'm all about safety in progression, just as I was taught and personally held to in Whistler.
Beyond NICA (For advanced NICA coaches & advanced student athletes)
I respect so very much all the volunteer time that NICA coaches give. Having volunteered coaching jiu-jitsu, myself, I know how much time it takes.
One thing I can do is help the parents of NICA athletes become better riders themselves so they are not as apt to get injured chasing their students on the bike. Ground Control 1 and 2 are perfect opportunities for this.
However, the "Beyond NICA" camp is intended for NICA coaches and advanced NICA student athletes. The NICA program does an excellent job of preparing both coaches and student athletes. This one day camp is designed to prepare student athletes for trails that are more difficult than NICA race courses. I want to give as much insight as possible in order to prevent injury to our student athletes who will undoubtedly, whether it be after practice, or during the summer break, or on that family vacation, hit features well beyond NICA standards.
This camp is also for coaches who would like to learn maneuvers that are beyond the scope of NICA, so that they continue to be more knowledgeable than the students they coach.
Many of the following maneuvers have been taught:
This camp has been well received by both coaches and student athletes. It is also possible to split this one day camp into two, half day clinics. Coaches have prioritized which maneuvers are the most important for them or their team, and then I have started with what is most important to them.
Mountain bike skills camps in the Southeast & Mid-west