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 or on what I would call "easy trails," 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.
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.
"Boulder Ridge" (Experts Only)
"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 there aren't "walk around" lines or easier lines to start out with. I can show you the best lines for your skill progression. I also can give you tips from all three of my other camps in order to help you nail your lines. I don't charge any more for guiding riders who I believe are ready for this trail because I don't want to be responsible or have any liability should he or she make a mistake and get injured. 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 back when I used to charge riders for teaching them on it.
"Storyteller" For Strong (Experts Only)
This trail would be the steepest, most technically challenging enduro stage in Alabama, if one chose to hit all the "a lines" on it. There are bypass lines on most, if not all, features. Like "Boulder Ridge," I no longer officially teach on this trail for money, because I don't want the responsibility or liability. But, when I have time, I don't mind taking expert riders on this trail and showing them the goods, as long as they agree I'm not responsible for them. Here is a video of one of the more challenging lines on the trail:
Mountain bike skills camps primarily in the Southeast