The first mountain bike clinic I ever went to was taught by Rae at the Mayhem Enduro and I was definitely a mix of terrified and absolutely freaking excited to learn and improve my skills. Being relatively new (second year of riding during my first clinic) and mainly cross-country rider, I was cautiously optimistic on how much I would be able to successfully learn and apply in a 4 hour clinic. Even though there were about 20 of us ranging in skill sets I always felt like we each got individual attention and were given corrections to apply and then watched as we attempted to apply them. Having mainly ridden with men whose advice and teaching consisted of “pick your wheel up over it [obstacle]” and “just carry momentum” it was a huge game changer to have the different aspects of mountain biking broken down and compared to motions that I was familiar with (ex. Move your arms and legs like when you are swinging). Rae was also the one who taught me about pre-loading and using your legs instead of your arms (why nobody thought to mention that when I started riding is beyond me ha!).
Fast forward, I am in my fourth year of riding and completing my 2nd UCI Pro XCO (Cross Country Olympic) MTB season. It became very apparent this season that I needed to improve my handling and technical skills (bike body separation, maintaining momentum, and mastering more advanced skills such as level lifts, manuals, and bunny hops) if I wanted to be competitive at the sports highest level. That’s when I remembered how much I had enjoyed and learned at the clinic taught by Rae and decided to reach out to her to see if she would be interested in helping coach me with my technical skills.
Even though I have only been riding with Rae and working on skills for a month I have noticed a dramatic improvement in my riding. She breaks down each skill before we do it and then each time after I try it we go over what she saw and what I was feeling. One of my favorite parts of having her help me with my riding is that she records each attempt at a skill as well as her demoing it so I can look at what I am doing and improve it so that it matches what she is doing. If you would have told me that I would be able to manual, bunny hop, or do a double when I first started mountain biking I probably would have laughed and said give me a few more years, but here I am and I can’t wait for our next session.