September
9

By the time you get this podcast I’ll be on my way back from a seminar in Seattle. It’s hosted by Joel Jamieson for his Bioforce Certified Coaches and I’m looking forward to sharing some of what I learned with you over the next few weeks.

In the meantime, though, here is a new BikeJames Podcast. Here are some notes from what I cover in this episode…

Training

Balance training for mountain biking: Does “balance training” work for improving your balance on your mountain bike?

Skills Training

Why dropping your heels on descents or dropping your outside foot in corners is a bad idea.

Bro Science

Do clipless pedals increase the risk of hip injuries? Three studies would suggest the answer is “yes”, which means a lot for the discussion about clipless vs. flat pedals.

Links to the studies – Study #1/    Study #2/    Study #3

Rider Q & A

Studies show that sitting is more efficient at sub-max efforts so why do you recommend standing up to pedal so much?

You can stream or download this episode by clicking the link below. You can also find  the BikeJames Podcast on Itunes and Podbean.

Click Here to Download the MP3 File For This Episode

I hope you enjoy this episode and get some stuff you can apply to your own training. And remember that if you have any questions or comments about this episode or if you have any suggestions for topics you want me to cover let me know.

Until next time…

Ride Strong,

James Wilson

MTB Ultimate Program
September
2

A new month means it’s time for a new Workout of the Month. And this time I’ve got some exciting new stuff I’m adding to it.

First, I’m adding a separate Kettlebell/ Dumbbell Workout to the download. 

I realized that while I love Ramping Isometrics and the Steel Mace they just aren’t tools that most people have access to. So by adding a separate workout using more “traditional” training tools, I would make the workouts accessible to more riders. I’m still keeping the Ramping Isometrics and Steel Mace Workout in the download, you now have a choice between two workouts based on what tools you have available to you.

The second thing I’m adding is a Warm Up and Decompression Flow to the download. I wanted to make it easier for you to access the warm up and I’m a big believer in doing some decompression/ stretching after training so these should help you have better workouts and recover faster.

And finally, I’m adding a Weekly Training Plan to the download. Knowing how to put everything together is important and now you’ll have some examples of how to balance training and riding.

Altogether you have everything you need to help you improve your power, endurance and confidence on the trail. And you can access it now by entering you name and email below. 

My goal is to make a solid MTB specific workout available to every rider regardless of their ability to afford a workout program. Please feel free to share this on your favorite social media platform. Together we can build a tribe of riders who know that the most important investment they can make in their riding is in their own body.

Until next time…

Ride Strong,

James Wilson

p.s. Have you ever heard that you need to drop your outside foot when you corner your bike? Or that you need to drop your heels when descending? 

If you have then make sure you listen to the next BikeJames Podcast coming out next week. I’ll explain why “dropping” your foot or heel isn’t the goal and how doing that can take your focus off what you’re really looking for – pressure.

I’ll also be touching on balance training, clipless pedal hip injury studies and my experience with a Stand Up Bike. I’ve got lots of great stuff to share so stay tuned for it next week…

Pedaling Innovations
August
19

Navigating ledges is an important part of mountain biking. While bigger wheels and better suspension have made it easier to simply ride over things, the trail still throws ledges and other obstacles that you have to get your front wheel up and over.

Unfortunately, though, for a lot of riders being able to get their front wheel on top of a 12 inch or higher ledge can be a challenge. This means that when these kind of obstacles come up you have a lot of riders walking them or, worse yet, creating go-arounds and widening the trail.

The reason a lot of riders struggle with this skill is that they don’t make good use of their standing pedaling position. Being afraid to stand up and put any weight on their hands, they live in a perpetual state of being on-top-of or behind their bike’s center of gravity.

This position makes it almost impossible to push your bike in front of you so you can unweight and lift the front end in a balanced way. This front wheel lift/ manual is only possible if you are in the right position, which isn’t with your butt on the seat or in the “attack position”.

This is especially true when encountering ledges on climbs. Trying to get over ledges from the seated pedaling position or riding up to them while seated and trying to stand up at the last moment simply won’t work.

To ride ledges while climbing you have to follow these 3 steps:

  1. Make sure you are standing up with your weight on the front end of your bike.
  2. Approach the ledge in a gear that gives you some tension at the pedals so you can use ¼ and ½ pedal strokes as needed.
  3. Use your weight shifts from front to back and then to the front again to get you over the ledges, not momentum (the slow-speed balance needed for this is why you need to work on your trackstands, but that’s another subject).

In this video I show you how this works on the trail. This is a well known double-ledge move on the Mary’s Loop Trails near my house in Fruita. It stops a lot of riders but only because they are using the wrong strategy to climb it.

Now, I know from experience that the first reaction a lot of riders have to this is “I’m not good enough at standing pedaling to do that”. And that, my friends, is where the first challenge actually lies.

Nothing gets you better at standing pedaling like standing pedaling. No amount of prerequisite work will make it easier to make the transition to a rider who can use standing pedaling as a strength instead of a position to be avoided.

Until you are able to confidently stand up and pedal on a climb, you will struggle to execute the skills for getting up and over a ledge. And once you are a better standing pedaler, it will be easier to get into the position you need to execute a front wheel lift to get over ledges.

Don’t fall victim to the sit-and-spin mentality that came from road riding or the “light hands, heavy feet” advice that came from motorcycle riding. Stand up and learn how to be the dynamic driver that your mountain bike needs and unlock its real potential.

Until next time…

Ride Strong,

James Wilson

MTB Skills and Fitness Program
August
18

Do wide handlebars make it harder to lean your bike?

If you would have asked me yesterday, I would have said “no” but after my ride today I realized that they do. 

After cutting my bars down to 26.5 inches/ 675 mm wide I went for a trail ride fully expecting for them to be too narrow, especially in the corners. But what I found was that the narrow bars made it easier to lean the bike over and gave me a bigger range of motion for my lean.

You can see me show this in the video and you can see it even better in the pictures.

30 inch bars

26.5 inch bars

The first picture is with my hands about 30 inches/ 760 mm wide and the second is with my hands 26.5 inches/ 675 mm wide. You can see in the pictures the difference in how much the bike is leaned over with my arm fully extended with the second picture showing more lean (you can really see the difference in how much of the spokes you can see in the two pictures from the tire lean).

And no, this isn’t “just my opinion”, it’s called geometry. The handlebar, bike and ground form a triangle as you start to lean the bike over and shortening the handlebars changes the length of one side of that triangle, which affects the other two sides as well. Go ahead, do the math and you’ll see that the longer your handlebars are the less lean you can get out of the bike in relation to the ground. 

Finally, there is a sweet spot where getting too narrow will make things twitchy and you will start to lose stability. Just like with the Push Up Test, you’ll find that having your hands too wide or too narrow produces problems and finding your individual sweet spot is the real goal.

I’ll be digging into this more but so far I’ve shown how wide handlebars compromise your range of motion up and down and now from side to side, as well as how they make it hard to keep your elbows “wedged” behind your hands to keep the bars stable. Wide bars are one of the worst things to happen to mountain biking, let’s get away from the scarecrow posture and get back to a strong, functional position on the bike.

Until next time…

Ride Strong,

James Wilson

MTB Fitness Membership Program
August
14

One of the recurring themes in my life lately is the need to identify the right problem before you can come up with the right solution. Sometimes we think the problem is one thing and work like crazy to find answer to it only to be frustrated over and over again because we were seeing the wrong thing.

From life to training to riding your bike, it is all one big series of “problems” to solve with physical and mental tools you have available. But you only know the right tools to develop when you know the problem to solve.

The reason I bring this up is that “find the right problem to solve” became the theme of this episode of the BikeJames Podcast. By shedding some light on a new way to look at some common problems we face on the bike and in the gym I hope I can help you come up with better solutions to them.

In this episode I share some thoughts on…

Training: Horizontal Loading vs. Vertical Loading: What is it and which is better for improving hip movement on the bike.

Skills: Pressure vs. Weight for Standing Climbing: Why you don’t need or want you butt on the seat for traction.

Bro Science: Functional Threshold Power vs. Intermittent Power to predict XC race results: Does improving your FTP improve your MTB?

Equipment: Angles 90: Great training tool for chin ups and deadlifts.

You can stream or download this episode by clicking the link below. You can also find  the BikeJames Podcast on Itunes and Podbean.

Click Here to Download the MP3 File For This Episode

I hope you enjoy this episode and get some new perspective on the problem how to improve your power, endurance and skills on your bike. I’ll be in touch next week with a new video showing how standing climbing makes it easier to navigate technical climbs.

Until next time…

Ride Strong,

James Wilson

MTB Kettlebell Workout
August
5

I can’t believe another month has passed and it’s time for another Workout of the Month. Hell, I can’t believe my kids start school again next week.

The main reason this summer has gone by so quickly for me is that it’s been a lot busier than last summer with the opening of the Catalyst Training Center. I’ve already hosted two free clinics and had a couple riders come in for the free workouts I host each week, which has been a great way to introduce riders to the unique training and riding systems I’ve developed.

Like you can see in these monthly workouts, the training programs I’m creating aren’t like anything else you can find. Combining Isometrics and the Steel Mace with standard tools like Kettlebells and Sandbag allows me to explore the next evolution of mountain bike training and I’m excited to have riders like you along for the ride to help me test it out.

You can download the workout by signing up below below. Just enter your email and you’ll get the link to download the PDF to your computer. Each exercise has a link to a video demo so you have everything you need to get going.

Remember to start and end you workout with some sort of mobility routine. It’s important to be moving well before you start training, otherwise you’re just laying fitness on top of dysfunction. You can check out this blog post for a follow-along demo of a good routine to use if you need one.

Remember too that while I incorporate some unique training tools and methods like Ramping Isometrics and the Steel Mace into these workouts, I do provide some alternatives if you don’t have access to them. 

Enjoy this month’s workout and stay tuned for a new podcast next week. I’ve got some good topics to touch on, including a rider question about balance training for mountain biking and the difference between weight and pressure on your rear tire when climbing.

Until next time…

Ride Strong,

James Wilson

p.s. If you really want to get an idea of what is coming next in the world of mountain bike fitness and skills training then you should come hang out with me for a couple of days at the Primal Skills Camp in September. This two day camp will completely change your riding now and for years to come.

Plus, I’m extending the Early Bird Sign Up bonuses through the end of the month so you still have the chance to get $149 in bonuses when you sign up. But there are only a few spots left so don’t wait, visit https://www.bikejames.com/primal-skills-camp to learn more and reserve your spot.

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James Wilson