May
22

Something I take very seriously is the platform I have been given to help people. I am very blessed to have contact with thousands of people every week through my newsletter and blog as I try to help them improve their riding and their lives in some small way.

As part of respecting this platform I don’t talk about a lot of things that don’t relate to training or riding.

But every once in a while I feel that there is something outside of those two things that are worth using my platform to help bring attention to.

A little over a year ago I was made aware of Justin Wren and his Fight for the Forgotten foundation while listening to the Joe Rogan Experience podcast. While I never expected it, it turned into one of those moments that changed my view of life as I listened to him explain the world’s water crisis and the particular one he was helping with in the Congo.

Hearing how many thousands of people die each year from not having clean drinking water was bad enough but listening to Justin talk about his personal experience of having to help bury a 4 year old kid he knew because he got sick from dirty water really hit home.

As a father of two kids – with one of them 3 years old at the time – I couldn’t imagine seeing them sick and dying from something as simple as not having access to clean water.

Now, to be honest, while I was really sad to hear about it I also became a little cynical as well. I’d seen too many commercials with sad stories and they always ended with an ask for donations with no real solution to the problem being given.

But was something different with Justin and what he was saying.

He had hard numbers – on average, $3000 could drill a well and change 175 lives. Plus, they were looking to train the locals so they could do it themselves and give them a source of income instead of just doing it for them and leaving.

It just seemed too simple…in a world with huge, open ended problems that just devour money here was a relatively finite, doable thing that could change countless lives for the better.

So I decided to start supporting Fight for the Forgotten and the organization that helps them, Water 4. While I’ve never said anything about it before, a portion of every dollar spent with me goes to them and with your help I’ve been able to donate enough to build a well or two and help change some lives.

Now, I’m telling you all of this for two reasons.

First, I wanted to make you aware of Water 4 and The Fight for the Forgotten. I think they do outstanding work and the more people that know about it the faster they can achieve their goals of ending the water crisis.

Second, I’d like to ask your help in raising enough money this week to build another well in the Congo. The Pygmy people that Justin is helping are often living in modern day slavery and treated as less-than -humans by the people around them. It’s a crazy story that is hard believe is still going on today.

But people like Justin are helping them by helping them get access to their own land and water.

My goal is to help this cause by raising at least $3000, which is enough to pay for a well somewhere that will change hundreds of lives for generations. I’m putting $500 towards that total, meaning all I need is another $2500 to help reach that goal.

There are 2 ways you can help me do this…

1 – Buy any of my online fitness programs, they range in price from $7 – $97 (click here for a list of all of my programs). 100% of all the proceeds from any training programs I sell this week will be donated directly to campaign I have set up through Water 4 in the name of The Fight for the Forgotten.

2 – Donate directly to Water 4 and this fundraiser. Just go to this link and donate whatever you can.

Most of us are blessed to be able to take things for granted that other people can’t. And while there are a lot of things that we can’t do much about, making sure that people have access to clean water and empowering them to help their neighbors do the same is something we can.

So please take a few minutes and check out Justin’s story and what he’s doing for the Pygmy people in the Congo. And if you feel that it is something worth fighting for, please buy a program or donate directly to the fund to help support it.

Thanks for your time and for the platform to help other people. While it’s usually my fellow riders I’m using it to help, I hope you’ll agree that this is a cause worth using it to bring attention to. And while I know that there are a lot of great causes to support, hopefully we’ll be able to get enough of us behind this one to meet our goal of building a well.

Until next time…

Ride Strong,

James Wilson

MTB Strength Training Systems

MTB Ultimate Program
May
15

A few weeks ago I had someone tag me in a discussion in the Ryan Leech Connection FB Group regarding his experience so far with flat pedals.

While his question for me was trying to clarify why clipless pedals are bad for your knees (which they are no matter what bike fit you have) he also posted some feedback on some problems he was having with flat pedals as well.

Like a lot of riders coming back to flats after a lot of time on clipless pedals he found that his feet would slip off the pedals in some situations, especially when things got rough and technical.

These were great questions so I shot a short video answering them. I even pull out of pair of regular flats and a pair of Catalyst Pedals to show him why being on the ball of your foot creates an unbalanced, unstable foot and once you fix your foot position it takes care of a lot of common problems people have with flat pedals.

After I posted it I realized that it would be a good video to share with everyone, especially if you struggle with knee pain on clipless pedals and/ or problems with your feet coming off your pedals when using flats.

Like you’ll see in the video, foot position and support matter a lot. And once you understand how that applies to the bike it can help you in a lot of different ways.

Until next time…

Ride Strong,

James Wilson

Pedaling Innovations
May
8

In this episode of the BikeJames Podcast I catch up with longtime friend of the show Ryan Leech. I’ve had Ryan on more than anyone else and I think it is because we both have a lot of shared passions both in and outside of the mountain biking world.

If you don’t know, Ryan is one of the best trials riders in the history of mountain biking, inspiring generations of riders with his otherworldly balance and artistic line choices.

He has become one of the best skills coaches in the world as well, sharing his knowledge and lessons he has learned both through clinics and his website, The Ryan Leech Connection.

Ryan is also huge advocate for flat pedals, having released his free 12 Ride Flat Pedal Challenge Course (which I contributed a workout to).

As a yoga instructor and longtime practitioner, he is also passionate about helping people develop their bodies and minds off the bike in ways that will help them on the bike.

In other words, we usually have a lot to talk about when we get the chance to chat.

Usually we have a pre-set agenda but this time we just hit record and let the conversation go where it wanted to…and it went in some pretty interesting directions.

From the pressures and downsides of social media to assessing risk on the bike and why flat pedals rule, we coverd a lot of ground. You can check it out by clicking on the link below.

Download this episode (right click and save)

Until next time…

Ride Strong,

James Wilson

MTB Skills and Fitness Program
April
24

Last week I was looking around online and came across an interesting study published in the Journal of Science and Cycling. In it they looked at the effects of two types of strength training approaches for off-road cyclists (a.k.a. mountain bikers).

The study had two groups of cyclists, with one using Endurance Strength Training (higher sets and reps) for 8 weeks during the off-season and no strengh training during the season and with another group performing Maximal Strength work during the off-season and continuing for 8 weeks during the riding season as well.

Both groups added the strength training to their usual endurance training programs for mountain biking. Riders were then tested for a whole range of performance indicators at the end of the beginning of the pre-season, at the end of the pre-season and again at the end of the study.

What they found was that while both groups saw some gains from strength training, only the Maximal Strength group saw gains in some areas throughout the whole study while the Endurance Strength group saw decreases in some areas at the end.

Most significant to me was the 1 Rep Max test, were the Maximal Strength group saw an increase of 15.8% from the beginning to the end of the study and the Endurance Strength group saw a decrease of 16.1% from the end of the post-season to the end of the 8 weeks of riding. This also showed up in some of the power tests and in the Fatigue Index used in the test as well.

Now, before I start to read too much into these results I do want to say that I have not seen the full study and so I do not know the specifics behind the type of strength training programs they used or what they did during the riding season. I also don’t know the experience level of the riders and they didn’t do any “on trail” testing.

But, even with that said, I still think there are some things we can take from this study…

1 – Strength training during the riding season is a must for mountain bikers. I’ve preached this for years…if your strength levels drop significantly during the riding season then your performance will suffer.

2 – It doesn’t take a lot of time see results with In-Season Strength Training. These guys worked out 1 time a week and saw results from it. You don’t have to devote hours and hours to strength training to reap the benefits, you just have to take action and be consistent.

3 – Mountain bikers need to lift heavy weights. Again, without seeing the exact programs used I can’t say for sure but with a name like the Maximal Strength Group I don’t think they were lifting pink dumbbells for 20+ reps. I would guess they were using a 3-6 rep range and focused on moving some weight. And, as you can see from the study, getting stronger improved their results.

So, put it all together and taking one day a week to lift some heavy weights can make you faster on your bike. You can keep it pretty simple as well with a routine like this…

Deadlift – 3 sets of 5 reps

Shoulder Press – 3 sets of 5 reps

Goblet Squat – 3 sets of 5 reps

Chin Up – 3 sets of 5 reps

KB Windmill – 3 sets of 5 reps

Doing this routine once a week will help keep you riding strong all season long. Or, at last that’s what the science and my experience would suggest.

Until next time…

Ride Strong,

James Wilson

MTB Strength Training Systems

 

MTB Fitness Membership Program
April
17

Check out this new article I was interviewed for by Outside Magazine’s website called The 3 Stretches Every Outdoor Athlete Should Do Daily. In it I share the 3 stretches I do every day to keep me moving well, performing my best and staying injury free.

Click here to discover The Top 3 Stretches You Should Do Daily

Don’t make the mistake I did for so many years and neglect stretching in favor of more strength training or cardio. Stretching is now one of the most important parts of my daily routine and it has helped me overcome some nagging injuries and maintain my quality of movement. Check out this article to learn more about why I feel stretching is so important and the 3 stretches you can start doing today to improve your performance on the trail.

Until next time…

Ride Strong,

James Wilson

MTB Kettlebell Workout
April
10

One of the most common misconceptions about foot position on the bike is the need to be on the ball of your foot so you can use your legs properly to absorb impacts and land jumps. The usual train of thought goes that since you first contact the ground with the ball of the foot during a vertical jump this means you need to be on the for your ankles to help absorb the impact.

However, as usual there is more to the story than tired analogies that don’t apply to our sport. As I’ve pointed out before, since you aren’t actually coming off and back onto your pedals your feet and ankles work differently than when running or jumping (which is why you don’t do KB Swings perched on your toes).

Besides this, though, during my workout the other day I realized that your foot also works two different ways when landing from a jump depending on which way your energy is being projected, which seems to fly in the face of the “you always land on your toes when jumping” crowd.

More than this, though, it highlights the real reason you land on one end of your foot when jumping, which is to get your foot to a flat, balanced position so your hips and legs can then absorb the impact.

I know that this may be difficult to visualize so I shot this video that should clear it up a bit…

The point of this is that we really need to take a step back and question some of the prevailing logic about the need to be on the ball of the foot. The mid-foot position is a much stronger, stable position for the foot to work from and this translates into stronger, more stable movement with the rest of your body.

And just in case you don’t believe me, ask yourself why Sam Hill uses a mid-foot position on his pedals…and has won World Cup DH Races and Enduro World Series stages with the “wrong” foot position.

A post shared by SAM HILL (@samhill13) on

Until next time…

Ride Strong,

James Wilson

MTB DB Conditioning Program
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