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 2018 and 2019 American National Champion Neko Mulally teaches on cornering and then sprinkle in what I learned in Whistler and from other 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 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.
PLEASE NOTE: This camp is for strong beginners to experts. A strong beginner should be able to fix his or her flats, take care of his or her bike, and ride a green trail at a reasonable pace. For more on this, and other FAQS, go here.
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, then 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, then 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. The more one understands these techniques, the less chance of injury when the wheel(s) come off of the ground.
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!
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.
Here is one of my clients, Will, who worked on basic jumping with me, and then took it to the next level by practising and working with other more advanced jumping coaches. He has the Hopper set on its highest setting and is using the transition of a table top for a landing. We will have it on its lowest setting and use the second small ramp as a landing transition.
Another client, Omar, using the Hopper in its highest setting launching about 25'.... Again, I don't pretend to have taught Omar everything he knows and is able to execute when it comes to jumping, but the basics are the same whether you are an advanced jumper or whether you want to start out jumping in the safe, correct way. It is these basics for beginner jumpers that I want to share using the Hopper or a safe, natural jump.
"Boulder Ridge" Clinic (For Strong Intermediates to Experts)
"Boulder Ridge" at Oak Mountain State Park is a trail I helped to build years ago. It has some of the most challenging technical ascents and descents that I've found in most all the trail systems I've ridden. However, that does not mean that there aren't "walk around" lines or easier lines to start out with. In this clinic, I show you the best lines for your skill progression. I also will give you tips from all three of my other camps in order to help you nail your lines. This clinic, like the Launches camp, will be a clinic where we spend all day on the trail, so don't forget to bring your lunch in your pack. Without a guide who has been riding this trail for years, riders ride right by many of the optional lines, thinking they have ridden Boulder Ridge. The following video gives a taste for some of the more challenging descents, but you will have to be a part to learn the technical ascents!
Beyond NICA (For advanced NICA coaches & advanced student athletes)
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 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 skills and maneuvers from the above camps have been taught to several NICA teams and many NICA coaches. Coaches have prioritized which skills and maneuvers are the most important for them or their team.
Mountain bike skills camps primarily in the Southeast