Ride Kore Skill Instruction

Big smiles, riding under the bridge.

Following Ryan Thompson’s lead at the Richmond pump track. Learning to pump with my legs, and not just my arms, to build free speed. This work immediately translated to more flow out on the trail.

Contrary to the onslaught of bike industry advertising, the most surefire way to mountain bike faster, more safely, and with maximal enjoyment is to upgrade your skills, not your bike. Books, articles, and ads targeting cross country mountain bikers and off-road triathletes that emphasize aerobic conditioning, nutrition, strength training, gadgets and equipment over actual mountain biking skills are putting the cart before the horse.As a kid hitting the trails, and later as a weekend warrior and amateur racer, I viewed mountain biking as an escape and an adrenaline rush, not an art to hone over time. It only takes one Danny Macaskill video or World Cup Downhill run, however, to see just how far skill can take you on a mountain bike.

In my first few races as a professional off-road triathlete, I lost big chunks of time to some great technical riders on long mountainous descents and gnarly trail segments with names like “blood rock” and “the gauntlet.” More importantly, it became clear that improving my skills would make high speed passes through such segments less risky and far more pleasant.

Fortuitously, a friend in Richmond recommended I look into Ride Kore skills instruction. Rike Kore is run by two local Richmond rippers, Ryan Thompson and David Kern. Ryan and David are both IMBA-certified mountain bike instructors with exceptional skill across the full spectrum of mountain biking disciplines. More importantly, they are expert teachers and passionate about giving back to the Richmond cycling community and cultivating the next generation of cyclists.

Their coaching atmosphere is very approachable, relaxed, and personalized. Under their watchful eyes, I enhanced at my own pace with iterations of progressive and purposeful practice, book ended with demonstration and technical feedback.

For my first session, we started out with the essentials of balance, vision, and control. We worked through all of the elements of “steady state” riding on tame segments of trail, the “attack position” for when things get hairy, and fore/aft and side-to-side body position adjustments to maintain center of gravity over the bottom bracket on all types of terrain.

Instructor holding handlebars while student practices mountain biking attack position.

Deep in focus on all elements of the “attack position” for riding in technical terrain: eyes up and scanning ahead, heavy feet and level pedals, lights hands and elbows out, knees bent and back straight.

After progressing through all the fine details—balance, vision, and control for riding in relatively straight lines—we turned to the dark art of changing directions, better know as cornering.

Taking a sharp corner in the grass. Mountain bike drill practice.

Deep in focus with a goofy face from all the new sensations of executing proper cornering technique. Outside pedal down and heavily weighted, knees out for stability, inside arm extended and weighted and outside elbow up for maximum bike lean and front wheel control, eyes up and scanning to the exit, hips pointing towards the exit as well.

Most cross country races feature dozens if not hundreds of corners and each in turn offers the opportunity to save a few seconds if navigated optimally or to lose several more seconds if ridden with less skill. Add it all up and cornering skill can save or cost several minutes in over the race. The kicker is you don’t have to put yourself in the hurt locker doing threshold intervals to improve cornering technique; practice is low-key and enjoyable.

On my follow-up session, we built on the more fundamental skills of balance, vision, and control to focus on proper timing and execution of wheel lifts and flowing on technical terrain. Once again, I was presented with a very well thought out and progressive series of drills and segments to practice under two pairs of watchful eyes with insightful feedback. I came away from my work with Dave and Ryan with a season’s worth of homework to practice and elated with a newfound sense of potential and possibility on my bike.

I highly recommend them to everyone I don’t have to race against.

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4 Responses to Ride Kore Skill Instruction

  1. Andy Thompson says:

    Great post, buddy. I’m sure the Ride Kore guys appreciated it.


  2. Oshri says:

    Awesome and inspiring to watch you hone in and commit to improvement, coming from the level you’re already at.

  3. RideKore says:

    Thanks for the great review, Alex. Best of luck to you on your 2015 season. Shred hard my friend!

  4. Pingback: Race Report: 2015 XTERRA West Championship | Alex Modestou Racing

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