Months ago we mentioned the idea of offering a two day immersive mtb skills clinic to Trek Bicycle Stores honcho Kent McNeill. I confessed I wasn't totally confident there was a market for such things- would people really want to learn from us? Do we have the credibility? "Yes! Do it!" he said. Kent is always quick to offer insight, and leverage his confidence to compel us to act. Thank goodness for that advice.
Our first-ever Ride Right Mountain Bike School was in every way better than we could have imagined. But don't let this sales pitch fool you. Were we nervous? Were we worried our students would tire of our drills? Were we frantic about the weather? Yes, yes and yes!
This was our prototype. Our official toe-dipping into the world of adult mountain bike skills instruction and to say we were nervous was an understatement. After filling up the first eight spots just through word of mouth, we made the decision to bring in two more coaches and offer more spots. It was important to us to have small coach-to-student ratios so we could provide individualized attention and feedback. Because, as we saw over and over, just one small adjustment was the difference for some to finally "get it".
The class of eighteen men and women was a collection of many different ages, and skill levels. From seasoned racer to novice, they all had their reasons for being there and it was up to us to assess their skill set and see where we could help them improve. Yeah, no pressure. Both mornings started with everyone doing the same "grass room" drills, each being a building block for the next skill. After lunch, we sessioned different sections of trail, applying the new knowledge and "bike feel" on actual single track.
Suddenly students found themselves carving high-speed corners and dropping their front wheels off of raised ramps like they've been doing it since birth. We're not sure if it was more thrilling for the students or the coaches! Honestly, it was quite a feeling to see the most doubtful students achieve something they never thought was possible. There were lots of woo-hoos and high fives. Doubt and fear were replaced by belief and pride.
R&R has taken folks on many big adventures riding trails on multiple high alpine peaks and across remote, grand landscapes. But showing people how to ride right in their own backyard trumped it all.
Some words from our participants:
Great job! Coaches were very attentive and had good feedback for riders of every level.
Great class! Bring on round two! Everything was great!
I've biked for 20+ years and never been formally taught. You are providing a great service to the bike community!
So pumped up after mtb skills class today! I learned so much and now I have lots to practice. I have not been this excited about mountain biking I think ever.... I love this sport.
Thank you Mike Farrell and Steve Barr for being a part of our first clinic and for being such great coaches. Thank you Trek Bicycle Stores for always supporting us, not only with great equipment but also great resources and advice. And mostly, thank you to our students who believed in themselves and in R&R Outside enough to take this class. It was an honor and a total blast!