Wednesday, December 2, 2009


Wow, what an amazing year 2009 has been, I have a lot to be thankful for. I owe a lot of my thanks to you as you make it possible for me to make a living doing what I love, helping other reach their best. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

Entering 2009 I was quite worried about the economy and thought business would be way off. I figured I would use some of the money I have managed to save (do to my frugal lifestyle) to play a little more and go on a surf trip and maybe up to Whistler for some lift assisted mountain biking. Boy, was I wrong! 2009 turned into my busiest year ever and I hardly had a second off to ride for fun, much less travel for fun. In this down economy I was floored by the demand for my coaching and feel very fortunate. I was fired from a job in 2001 right after September 11th and really had trouble finding good jobs for the next two years, I kept plugging away at this business while delivering Dominoes Pizza to make ends meet. So thank you for your support. If you are struggling to make ends meet keep your head up, keep working towards a solution and things will turn around for you if you make it happen.

Two examples of what I am thankful for:

Damn Gene you the man.
Now for the good news. I took your clinic in April for The World Police and Fire Games. Thanks to you they were successful. I took the silver in the dual slalom. They used the dual slalom course that was designed for the Crankworks race the following weekend. I can't decide which was more inportant, the riding techniques or the mind techniques I learned from you. In the slalom I started off with babysteps cause this course was way over my ability. Everyone else was trying to race on every practice run and I just took my baby steps to get better control. Toward the end in the metal rounds a guy walked up to me and said "you keep getting faster and faster as the day goes by". I thought that was a true testament to your traning techniques. I also finished 9 in the cross country, 5 in the road sprints and 4 in the team triathlon. All of which I consider a success.
Thanks again,
Chip MacLaren


Your camp gave me the confidence to go out and try a few races this summer.  My first race was in the beginner 40 to 45 age class in the “Point to Point” cross country race in Winter Park.  While I certainly did not break any records – I at least had a respectable finish and more importantly had a total blast.  My second race was a Super D (much more my style in that there is MUCH less uphill cranking) at Winter Park where I got a second place finish in my age group.  3rd race was a Mountain States Cup Super D race in Copper where I came in tenth.  Again no records but still having a total blast.  My friends the same age as me think I am crazy doing this stuff but I think they are crazy to be sitting on their arses.  Again, thank you for giving me the confidence to go out there and try some racing and hopefully in the near future I will be in another one of your camps!

Say hello to Andy for me.


Will Edgington

The best pro in the sport taught me wrong!

The best pro in the sport taught me wrong!

Often the best athletes in a sport don't make the best coaches. I was reading the book Blink the other day and it talked about Andre Aggassi's advice on how he puts so much top spin on the ball. When explaining it to his coach and other coaches he stated that by turning his wrist over as he hit the ball it gave him the top spin. Well the coaches believed this (after all Andre was one of the best players in the world) and started teaching their students this. Well, an interesting thing happened, there was a huge ride in wrist injuries amoung young tennis players. After careful motion analysis the coaches saw that Andre's wrist never moved, the "top the ball motion" was actually generated at his shoulder not his wrist.

Reading this reminded me of all the movements in riding that I now explain quite differently than I did 5-10 years ago. The skill hasn't changed but after years of study I realized that I was often explaining the outcome of doing it correctly but not the actual fundamental skill. Effective coaching involves breaking skills down and being able to explain them to a diverse group of people. One of the best aspects of my job is after 20 years of coaching I am still learning how to explain skills better. The learning of skills continues too, after 11 years of coaching mountain biking I am still learning a lot of little details on how to do skills better/easier/with less effort.

The moral of the story, don't believe everything you hear, even it comes from an "expert".

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

I Love My Job

A recent email that made my day:

Dear Gene,

I hope this message finds you doing well and on your way to a speedy
and complete recovery. I am thankful you were willing to continue with our class despite the challenge of your broken foot.

It has been nearly a month since I finished your camp in Fruita, Colo.
You were absolutely right when you said if we practiced your drills
off the trail, we would notice the difference on the trail. I have
spent the last couple of weeks practicing the drills here on the
streets in my neighborhood. The drills returned my best dividend today when my mountain bike camp classmate, Jerry and I went for a two hour ride on the trails here in Sedona. I was amazed at the difference in my riding ability. Today's ride was the best ride I have ever had since I first bought my mountain bike two years ago. Your superb instruction in teaching how a bike turns made the ride fun and exhilarating. I rode faster, smoother, relaxed, in control, and had fun.

The confidence in my ability to handle the trail and its features was
the highest I have ever experienced to date.   I successfully climbed
several hills that I had previously failed to climb, I could almost
hear your assistant coach Andy's voice in my ear repeating all of the
tips and techniques needed for the successful climbs. I remembered
Andy telling us. "To look to victory," as I rode through the trails
technical features that I had never cleared before. It was great fun
to enjoy steeps and drops that had previously intimidated me into the
hike-a-bike mode. I am absolutely thrilled with the new found
confidence in my riding ability. The best thing about all this is that
I have even more room for improvement. You have made a believer out of me with all you taught us. Am I perfect in my riding? Absolutely not. Can I become a better rider? You bet, thanks to you, your coaches, and the superb course.

As you can tell, I am very grateful for all your class did for me. I wish I would have taken the course before I even thought about taking a bike on the trail, but it is never too late to do the right thing. A classmate struck up a conversation with me last week while we were attending IMBA's trail building class. She said she had moved to Sedona recently and was having a difficult time riding our trails compared to where she had come from. I immediately referred her to BetterRide.

Joe Vernier, Nov. 27th, 2009

Thursday, January 3, 2008

The Consumption of Happiness

The Consumption of Happiness, Consume, consume, consume

Hey, as cyclists we are better than those crazed consumers who spend every nickel they make on something new to keep up with their neighbors. I wish this was true but I have never seen a sport so obsessed with the latest gadget that impresses your friends but does nothing to improve your riding. Things will not make you a better rider and things will not make you happy either. Sure, "things" can really pick up your mood for a day, week or even a month but then you realize nothing has changed and you return to the same level you were before the new "thing". Then you sink lower and the cycle repeats, buy something, feel good, realize that it wasn't the life changing thing you thought it was going to be, get upset that you spent so much money on a disappointing item and then look for something new to do what this thing couldn't. I am not advocating being a monk with no possessions but a bed roll and a bowl, just realizing that "things" don't make you happy, you make you happy.

Happiness and skill are very closely related, both are results not "things" that you can own or possess. People are too busy searching for happiness and/or that part/bike/wheelset that is going to make them better. I am here to say that "happiness" and "skills" are a state of being not a destination. They both require constant upkeep, change and growth to maintain them. So start the new year by investing your time, money and energy on growing in ways that will lead to living a happy and fulfilling life, not the latest possession that makes you the coolest one on the block (for a week or two until somebody gets a new/cooler gadget).

Create a great new year,


Saturday, December 29, 2007

Kids on Bikes!

Those of you who have taken a camp with me or simply been riding with me when we pass a group of kids or a family out riding know how happy I am when I see "kids on bikes" as I usually shout with glee, "Kids on bikes!" Ever since my first my first purple bike with big banana seat and ape hanger handle bars I have loved riding bikes. My bike was my ticket to adventure. It exponentially expanded my universe my allowing me to leave my block and explore unknown territory and gave me an out let for my boundless energy. As our country has gotten more in to consuming and spectating than actually doing anything (shopping is not a hobby, neither is watching other people play sports) it has really saddened me to see so many kids who have never discovered the freedom and adventure of riding a bike. Seeing kids on bikes gives me hope, makes me smile and brings back great memories. The kids on bikes are always smiling too, what a great toy!

After a fun (but way to short) stay with my family for Christmas I had to rush back to Tempe to coach the NOVA junior mountain bike team. I was looking forward to coaching the kids but mad at myself for volunteering to coach so close to Christmas. I was also honestly feeling a little resentful that I was sacrificing family time to coach a clinic (how is that for Christmas spirit! hopefully I won't feel like such a scrooge next year). Well I woke up Thursday and rushed to get to South Mountain on time and was further upset that there was some confusion as to when the clinic was going to start. I was thinking, "I left my family so I could coach some late, ungrateful kids?". Well the crew arrived not long after that and we got started. My attitude quickly changed as any time you get "kids on bikes" it is a good thing and this was no exception. The kids were fun, smart and good riders. We all learned a lot and had a lot of fun despite a chilly and breezy day. The kids were grateful too, the all thanked me and said that they were looking forward to next week's clinic.

On Friday I was lucky enough to teach a younger group of kids than on Thursday and really relearned/remembered the differences in teaching younger kids and how much fun it is. Three 11-13 year old girls learned how to do wheelies! Like the older kids we had a lot of fun and they thanked me at the end of the day.

After the camp I had a little energy left so I went out for a ride. I was hoping to go up Mormon loop and down National trail but ran out of energy near the top of Mormon and turned around. Not long after turning around I ran into more kids on bikes! From the size of their smiles they were clearly excited to be out riding. I stopped to chat with them and they were pressing me to turn around and do National with them. Turns out that they are from Golden, Colorado and we ride a lot of the same trails at home. Their enthusiasm for descending National almost got me to turn around climb back up with them but I was just too tired. I did my best to focus on what I was doing on they way back to the car but I kept thinking about those two kids. What a grand adventure they were on! Unlike a lot of kids I see today they were in excellent shape, had great self-esteem and were quite happy.

For years I have thought if we could just get more kids on bikes we end so many problems. A kid with a skinned knee or even a broken arm has a story to tell and will heal stronger and even more confident of himself. A kid that is 30 pounds over weight by the time he/she is 13 years old and has never accomplished and/or failed anything isn't really prepared for what life is going to throw at him/her. Life involves stress, physical, mental and emotional and riding a bike is similar to life in this matter. Riding a bike can teach a child a lot: that they can do more than they thought, that they have some control over their life, that exercise is fun, how to handle failure and through all of this increase their self esteem. I am doing what I can to encourage kids to start riding and I hope you will do the same. Stay tuned for more information on "kids on bikes".