Tag Archives: Jed Olson

What I learned from Chance and Jed at the MORC mountain bike skills clinic

I took the MORC Mountain Bike Skills Clinic from Jed Olson and Chance Glasford last week at the Carver Lake Park MTB Trail. (See my album of 30+ photos.)

They started the clinic by asking everyone to state what they hoped to gain from it. I said that I wanted a refresher on the basics.  I didn’t really expect to learn anything new.

But I did.

Chance Glasford and Jed Olson Chance Glasford and Jed Olson

Chance Glasford DSC02391

1. The day after the clinic I rode the intermediate loop at Elm Creek. It was much more fun (I could go a lot faster) due to my more consistent use of A) the attack position; and B) proper cornering technique, especially looking ahead in the turn while rotating my hips.  I’d gotten lazy and developed bad habits without realizing it. Watching Chance demonstrate this several ways and then doing those drills at the clinic on a flat grassy field immediately carried over to my riding.

2. The individual coaching I got from Jed on doing a bunny hop resolved a dilemma that I blogged about recently: Why am I able to able to ride over a big rock (lifting the front wheel with a manual, then unweighting) yet I’m not able to bunny hop over a small object like a pop can?

My interpretation of Jed’s answer: when my unweighted rear wheel strikes the rock (or if I hit it with my chain ring bash guard), the impact forces the front wheel down. My unweighting still gets me over it.

Jed OlsonBut since one purpose of a bunny hop is to clear an object without touching it, I need to push the front wheel down with the handlebars after the peak of the manual, while simultaneously unweighting or even ‘scooping’ the rear wheel.  That pushing motion is important. Jed demoed it several times (alas, no photo) and it’s imprinted in my brain. Now I’ve got to go out and do it.

Those two items alone were worth the cost of the clinic for me.

It was great to see the strong turnout for the clinic (19 paid registrations, maximum 20). I hope MORC keeps offering these, maybe offering short clinics devoted to a single skill/technique, eg, a two-hour clinic on jumping table tops, a two-hour clinic on pumping, etc.

Jed and Chance can ride but they can also coach: attend their MORC skills clinic next week

Chance Glasford and Jed OlsonI’ve blogged here about Chance Glasford and Jed Olson, including how I’ve benefited from the informal coaching they’ve given me (specifically: how to pump and how to jump a table top).

So it’s cool that they’re teaming up to put on two Mountain Bike Skills Development Clinics this summer in collaboration with MORC, one next week and another in July.

In this clinic, instructors will start by aligning your mind, body, and bike, to attack trails and obstacles with the skill and confidence needed to turn frustration into enjoyment. The primary focus will be cornering, braking, and riding up, over, and down obstacles. We will assess your skill level, strengths, and weaknesses, and cater portions of the class to your goals. Along with in-class instruction towards becoming a better rider, attendees will leave the clinic with various drills and exercises to work on at home, and on the trail, so that they can continue to improve their riding skills. (continued)

I’ve signed up for the July clinic and hope to be taking some photos at the June clinic. Join me.

My first trip to Over The Top’s indoor BMX park: humbling, rewarding

mastering_mountain_bike_skills_2nd_editionEver since I purchased the book Mastering Mountain Bike Skills by Brian Lopes and Lee McCormack (my blog post about it here), I’ve been interested in learning BMX skills, not to race BMX but to improve my mountain biking. Lee McCormack (LeeLikesBikes.com) has many blog posts about BMX and emphasizes the benefits of learning BMX skills in his book. And when deciding between a 20-inch BMX bike vs. a 24-inch BMX bike (cruiser), he says:

Most adult MTB’ers find 20s too much of a handful, at least at first. Start with a cruiser; then work your way down (up?) to a 20. A  winter, or even the occasional play ride, on your BMX bike will do wonders for your riding skills.

2011 Scott Voltage 24 dirt jump mountain bike (photo by Bike Rumor) My 2011 Scott Voltage 24 dirt jump mountain bike My 2011 Scott Voltage 24 dirt jump mountain bikeMy 2011 Scott Voltage 24 dirt jump mountain bike
So when Chance Glasford told me last fall that Continental Ski and Bike in Duluth was closing out a 2011 Scott Voltage 24 dirt jump mountain bike, I bought it. I got in a couple of sessions at the Eagan Pump and Jump park (Facebook page here) before winter, but it was my trip to Ray’s Indoor Bike Park in Milwaukee in January where I first felt the benefits of learning to ride this bike, specifically when I learned to jump a table top, courtesy of Jed Olson’s coaching.

Over The Top, Zumbro Falls Over The Top Chance Glasford, Griff Wigley, Jed Olson
Jed told me last week that he and Chance were heading to Over The Top (OTT), an indoor BMX/skate/rock climbing park that’s part of the Bluff Valley Campground complex in Zumbro Falls (45 minutes from Northfield) on Friday. Good timing, as my 29’er is the shop, waiting for a new rim. I was pumped (heh) to go.

Over The Top, Zumbro Falls Over The Top, Zumbro Falls rock climbing, Over The Top, Zumbro Falls rock climbing, Over The Top, Zumbro Falls
OTT is an impressive facility that bills itself as a skatepark but on Friday night, there were only BMX’ers there, no skateboarders. It also has a rock climbing/bouldering area.

Jed Olson and Thor Shellum Jed Olson Thor Shellum
Jed and Thor Shellum (a product design engineer at QBP / Surly Bikes) were airing it out pretty good over the big jumps.

Chance Glasford Chance Glasford Chance Glasford
Chance was impressive on the footjam tailwhips (PinkBike how-to video here).

My problem was that there’s not much at OTT that’s doable for a rank beginner like me. The one table top they have was not only bigger than the ones I learned to do at Ray’s.  But there wasn’t an easy way for me to get up enough speed for it since I didn’t know how to do a 180 and pump back down the ramps to gain speed. So I asked Jed to map out something that I could practice.

 ramps at Over The Top, Zumbro Falls ramps at Over The Top, Zumbro Falls ramps at Over The Top, Zumbro Falls Griff Wigley, learning basic BMX skills at Over The Top, Zumbro Falls
He suggested that I learn to do the prerequisite to a basic BMX 180, and pointed out that the when the big ramps weren’t being used by other riders, I could make a wide loop across the face of them and just concentrate on A) getting comfortable with the leaning my body with the bike on the ramps; B) pumping the bike instead of pedaling as I went back down the ramps; and C) gradually tightening up the loop. By night’s end, I was able to stay within the single ramp in the middle (red arrows) both directions. Next time I go, I’ll be ready to try a 180, which involves a bit of bunny hop. 

The connection of BMX to mountain biking now makes much more sense to me because I see how learning the basic 180 maneuver of a bunny hop and pumping will make practicing table top jumps (a common feature of MTB downhill trails) more fun.

Blake Waters, Over The Top, Zumbro FallsBlake Waters, whose family owns and runs Bluff Valley Campground and to Over the Top, was on-duty Friday night and made me feel welcome, as did all the other young guys there that night. He’s a talented rider, but my only photo of him is the one on the right after a slow motion crash.   (Blake maintains the Over The Top Facebook page, so you can contact him there, too.)

And in case you’re wondering, I wore every bit of protective gear that I own and was glad I did because I crashed a lot, landing hard on my elbows, knees, hips, shoulders, tailbone and head. I came away with zero bruises and just a mild ache in one knee from my old cartilage injury.  I will be back.

30 seconds of coaching from Jed Olson and I learn to jump a table top

Jed Olson and boys Jed Olson at Ray's Indoor Bike Park, Milwaukee Jed Olson (video still) Jed Olson (video still)
Jed Olson was one of a dozen or more Minnesotans who made the trip to Ray’s Indoor Bike Park in Milwaukee for the IMBA members weekend. I hadn’t met Jed before but had seen his postings in the MORC forum and was bummed when I couldn’t make it to the Gravity Summit he hosted in Red Wing last fall. (Above left photo: I’m using a ‘dad’ photo from his Facebook profile because, duh, I neglected to get a photo of his face at Ray’s.)

As you can see from my photo and the 19-second video clip of Jed above, he knows how to ride. So when I saw him with his buddy at the Micro Rhythm track at Ray’s, I asked him to critique my form.  He said I was pumping the rollers just fine but when I got to a tabletop, it looked to him like I was trying some kind of jumping or bunny hop motion. He told me to just ride the table top with the same motion as I was riding a roller, like it’s round going up, round on top (but in the air), round going down. (Those aren’t his words, just my best recollection.)

I rode the track once and immediately felt the difference. I think I said "Wow" but I was actually thinking "Holy fucking shit."  After a few more times, Jed said, "You got it." He said I just needed a little more speed. And sure enough, by mid-afternoon I was able to clear the lips of all three of the table tops on the back stretch of the Micro Rhythm track.

I’ve watched many how-to-jump videos (BikeSkills.com example here) and I’ve read and re-read the section on jumping in the book Mastering Mountain Bike Skills by Brian Lopes and Lee McCormack (I blogged it here).  So it was more than a little amazing to have Jed diagnose what I was doing wrong and prescribe a fix in one sentence. I guess that’s what good coaches can do.

My whole weekend at Ray’s was memorable but learning a new skill was not something I expected.  I’m psyched to tackle the table top jumps at Lebanon Hills (photo here). And I now have the confidence to work my way up to where I can handle some of the bigger jumps at other area MTB parks.  Copper Harbor, here I come.

In case you’re wondering what a Micro Rhythm track is, here’s a helpful description by Jon Pratt at Dirt Rag back in Oct. 2011 in a review titled Dirt Rag visits Ray’s indoor mountain bike park in Milwaukee:

Along with the upgrades to the cross country course, there is an out-and-back Micro Rhythm track which is a great place for people to get comfortable with how a jump line feels. Built with an out-and-back design, the track features several boxes and jumps. Instead of a bermed turn at the end of the outbound rhythm line, there is a platform that allows the rider to reset themselves if they hadn’t been able to get in sync with the course before attempting the inbound line. Personally I had trouble getting back in sync once interrupted by the platform, something that I had issues with on the out-and-back in Cleveland as well. But, I understand the idea behind the exclusion of a bermed turn.

Indeed. Having that platform instead of a bermed turn made a huge difference, for me and from what I could tell, many others.