FREE until midnight on New Year’s Eve: Ryan Leech’s 12-Ride Flat Pedal Challenge online course.

I’ve been riding with flat pedals since Aug, 2011, about 6 weeks after I began mountain biking. I don’t evangelize about them too much in part because I’ve not delved deeply into the flats vs clipless debate. I just had more fun riding with them. And although I’ve always believe crashing is part of learning, I wasn’t willing to suffer injuries caused mainly by not getting unclipped in time to put my feet down.

So I’m thrilled to see that Ryan Leech, pro rider and elite instructor, has released his 12-Ride Flat Pedal Challenge online course.

It’s FREE until midnight, 12/31/2016 (New Year’s Eve).

Since he announced it a few weeks ago, over 6,000 have signed up.

Here’s his short description of the course:

“A drill-filled guide designed to help you discover the technique and style gifts of flat pedals. I’m NOT trying to convert you to flat pedals. Though if you ride clipless, then you’re missing out on the refinement that logging time on flats can have on your technique. You can then carry this style back to clipless at any time you like! Following my curriculum will speed up the acquisition of these, dare I say, transformative flat pedal benefits.”

Here’s the course overview page with the entire curriculum, testimonials, and link to register, NO CREDIT CARD REQUIRED:

(Full disclosure: I’ve been collaborating with Ryan on a few aspects of his online venture for the past year or so. I’m also a marketing affiliate, which means I get a small commission for referring people.)

Video: driveway practice session on three mtb braking drills

Video: dragging the rear brake with low tire pressure to ride a sheet of ice

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We had a lot of rain on Xmas here in southern Minnesota that completely ruined our several inches of fluffy snow. But as the temps dropped, the melting snow froze, creating some unusual ice. I found this mini-skating rink near my house that coated a sidewalk, curb, and access street. The gradual slope made it an ideal traction challenge. I kept tightening my approach to make it more difficult. I'm using ratcheting, track stands, and rocking skills. And you'll see the difference between tires inflated at 10 psi vs 1-2 psi. But the main technique I deployed was to constantly apply the rear brake with just enough pressure to prevent any wheel spin. I call it 'dragging' the rear brake since that seems to best describe it, ie, applying steady power/pedaling while the brake is engaged just the right amount. I learned this technique riding mototrials, most typically on slippery off-cambers where steady power via the throttle while dragging the brakes could help prevent the rear wheel from slipping out underneath you. 1-min video, no slowmo:

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Video: practicing mtb balance skills in my garage when it’s -5 F outside

Announcing: The Mountain Bike Skills Network Community (MTBSN)

There are many free places online to discuss mountain biking but few that are exclusively devoted to learning skills. And most of those are devoted to a single instructor or organization.

I’ve learned much from a variety of online mtb resources and so I wanted to create an online forum that A) made use of whatever was online that was helpful; and B) that tapped into the intelligence and collegiality of fellow mountain bikers who were willing to share and learn together. And so I’ve created the Mountain Bike Skills Network Community, currently a closed group on Facebook. Here’s the current description:

“The Mountain Bike Skills Network (MTBSN) is an online community of mountain bikers dedicated to helping one another develop our riding skills. We alert each other to and discuss how-to-ride resources that we find online (for example, from Phil Kmetz (Skills with Phil), Gene Hamilton (BetterRide), Leigh Donovan ( IChooseBikes), Ryan Leech (Ryan Leech Connection), Simon Lawton (Fluidride), Chris Carter (MTB Tips), Global Mountain Bike Network, James Wilson (MTB Strength Training Systems), Lee McCormack (LeeLikesBikes), PMBI, IMBA ICP, etc). We ask for feedback on our own riding and offer feedback to others when they ask. We celebrate each other’s progress. And we do all this in a spirit of collegiality and with a tone of civility (discussion guidelines here).”

Why use a Facebook Group for this? Although Facebook’s Groups platform has many limitations, the advantages are significant and include: A) a large percentage of mountain bikers who are online use Facebook every day; B) Facebook has very good smartphone apps, including one specifically for Groups; C) it’s free for me to use as the organizer/administrator; D) its tools for photos and videos are very good; E) it’s very easy to tag people which encourages more engagement; and F) it’s very easy to link to resources within Facebook as well as to those resources outside of it.

If the Group gets too large and unwieldy, then migrating to a web forum outside of Facebook might make sense.

Interested? Click here. It’s a Closed Group which means I get notified to admit you.

Video: 3 fails on a snowy logover drop