My name is Alain Lanusse and I am the Design Director here at Kali Protectives. I recently attended the Lee Likes Bikes bike clinic, being held by Trailhead Cyclery in San Jose, with the intention of being an observer and learn some techniques on teaching people mountain biking skills.
I had reached out to Lee earlier in the week to inquire about his syllabus, because I have been throwing around the idea of doing a skills clinic at our next Kali Kamp and I had absolutely no idea where to start.
Lee was super gracious about letting me tag along, experience the class and even throw my two cents in here and there during the clinic.
The clinic started off with some bike fit, some classroom discussion and some Rip Row training. We talked about mountain bike technique and Lee used the Rip Row to help illustrate bike movements.
Then it was off to Santa Teresa Park for some real world braking and turning tutorials in the parking lot.
And finally, we got to ride.
I was surprised to see how many riders didn’t really know where to put their cranks or their feet when turning. I chipped in and started to give some advice to the riders about basic techniques.
To me these things are just second nature, with built in muscle memory. But, it turns out, a lot of riders are missing out on the fundamental building blocks of how to best ride a bike. It felt good to help some of these riders learn valuable biking skills which will make them safer, more confident and have more fun on the trial.
We also hit some technical uphill climbing and sessioned a tricky little section, working on moving body weight, gear selection, line vision, and so on. From there we worked on some downhill sections and focused on weight distribution, set up, pre-loading the suspension, pumping , body english, etc. We followed that up with a climb to the top, and a run down to the bottom.
It was amazing to see, how for some riders, the basic tutorials we were teaching were already taking hold. You could totally see how much more control they had and how that multiplied the fun factor.
We capped off the experience with some parking lot beers, chips and salsa.
As I reflect back on the day I realize that over the years I have been extremely fortunate to ride with some incredible riders, in incredible places and learn from all of them. I never thought that coaching, or what I prefer to think of as sharing, would be so gratifying and fulfilling. It felt great rolling off the mountain, on my bike with the sunshine on my back, realizing I had passed on a little bit of knowledge to help these riders ride better, ride safer, and keep progressing no matter what their end goal might be.
My four key takeaways:
1. Don't be a chicken. Many times going faster is easier and smarter than going to slower. Try skipping over roots and rocks, as opposed to getting stuck in/on them.