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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Being relatively new to the sport of mountain biking (a cross-over from the roadie side of the force), I jumped at the opportunity to take Lee McCormack's skills clinic. Ultimately, I was hoping to avoid the well-documented path of spending years riding mountain bikes, developing bad habits, and enduring many a crash.

The clinic consisted of roughly 2 portions. The first took place in the Demo parking lot. Lee, with the help of Lars Thomsen of Trailhead Cyclery, lectured us on the fundamentals of mountain biking, and had us run through a series of drills to help us develop the appropriate muscle memory. For the second half, we hit the trails. Immediately, I was impressed by how easily the drills portion translated into confidence and control on the trails.

Lee is an impressive teacher. He has the ability to break down complex and advanced maneuvers into fundamental and digestible chunks that even a beginner like me can understand and apply. I expected to become a better mountain biker after taking the clinic. What I did not expect was just how much better I would feel even when just riding on the road. The skills he emphasizes are so fundamental, they apply across all cycling disciplines. In the short time I've been riding, taking Lee's clinic was one of the most rewarding experiences I've had on a bike, and I can't recommend it enough.
 

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Over it
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Glad it kickstarted your riding. I've heard mixed things about the clinic. The class size seems kinda large--and they don't always get out of the parking lot (why drive all the way out there when they could just use the parking lot behind Trailhead?)!

I guess I'm kinda spoiled. My g/f and I found an ex-pro DHer in San Diego County that charged us $60 each for about 5 hours of instruction, most of which was on the trails. It really changed the way we ride.

For $300 I'd expect a more intimate class, dinner, and a little PDA.
 

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roadie
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I was impressed at how gnarly Lars was dressed.
like Rasta MacDonald?

Glad it kickstarted your riding. I've heard mixed things about the clinic. The class size seems kinda large--and they don't always get out of the parking lot!
and spendy.. i picture it being $300 for three hours of exaggerated turns in the parking lot with a bunch of other Parlee owners, and one trip down Corral. that's like $200 per mile of single track (ok fine, i'm a total hater)

:confused:

Fab rides bikes! (i actually imagine it covering some basics like this)


if the clinic helped you that's cool. sounds like you're getting stoked on mountain biking and that is nice. next time hang a louie on Sulphur though - going to Demo and only riding Corral is like going to the strip club just to have a glass of juice and use the bathroom...

:thumbsup:
 

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I like mtn biking, too
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Clinics are where you pay money to get things broken down and explained for you by someone not only expert at doing them, but expert at breaking down and explaining things. You pay to practice new skills in front of them and get helpful feedback. This does not take a lot of space. If you want to experience all of the trails at Demo, you can do that any day for free. Skills clinics can take place anywhere really - best clinic I had was in a parking garage in the rain. I find them to be worthwhile because there are plenty of people who are much better at mountain biking than me, and even more rare is someone who can teach. McCormack is one of the best there is.
 

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I'm really diggin it!
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Clinics are where you pay money to get things broken down and explained for you by someone not only expert at doing them, but expert at breaking down and explaining things. You pay to practice new skills in front of them and get helpful feedback. This does not take a lot of space. If you want to experience all of the trails at Demo, you can do that any day for free. Skills clinics can take place anywhere really - best clinic I had was in a parking garage in the rain. I find them to be worthwhile because there are plenty of people who are much better at mountain biking than me, and even more rare is someone who can teach. McCormack is one of the best there is.
this

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Clinics are where you pay money to get things broken down and explained for you by someone not only expert at doing them, but expert at breaking down and explaining things. You pay to practice new skills in front of them and get helpful feedback. This does not take a lot of space. If you want to experience all of the trails at Demo, you can do that any day for free. Skills clinics can take place anywhere really - best clinic I had was in a parking garage in the rain. I find them to be worthwhile because there are plenty of people who are much better at mountain biking than me, and even more rare is someone who can teach. McCormack is one of the best there is.
Totally agree.

$300 is pretty spendy, but still less than a lot of cycling-related purchases I've made. Worth it for me, but YMMV.
 

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roadie
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$300 buys a lot of safety gear ;)

i'm sure a parking lot rodeo can teach you about bike handling. no doubt. i could for sure use some skills myself.. my current technique of closing my eyes and hoping for the best might not be the best approach. but driving highland to do laps of the parking lot is silly.. c'mon.

what was the geographic breakdown of the group, 50-ish% from SJ, 50-ish% from SF? if so, that's a 2 hour roundtrip on avg. what was the class size, 8? 12? how long was the skills portion, 4 hours? 6 hours? if so, you might get 30 minutes 1:1 time? if my presumption is wrong, school me.

if it were in THC's parking lot, and more reasonably priced i could hop on it (in fact, i could just coast over there since it's my local shop - and it's where i buy my other safety gear)
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
The class size was 8. 3 of use were from SF. The others were from San Jose, Peninsula, and Santa Cruz. The skills portion was about 3 hours, and actual ride time was around 3 hours. It's a trek from the city for sure, but worth it for the opportunity to translate the drills from the parking lot to the trails. Would I have preferred Tamarancho or Skeggs as a location? Definitely. But an extra 45-60 minutes of driving wasn't enough to discourage me from taking a day off work to ride my bike.

I found huge value in the clinic because of my newbie status, but I should also point out that I was probably tied for last in terms of rider experience. I'm definitely curious to hear the perspective of the more experienced riders who took the clinic.
 

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~~~
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That's cheap compared to BetterRide's 3-day clinic ($749). I participated in their recent camp in Fairfax, and will have some review for mtbr soon. There's no doubt that skills camps and coaching are valuable tools. A stickler for most people is the price. But shopping around, you will see that they have no problem filling their camp slots, so there are plenty of people willing to pay.

Hopping on a bike and trying not to die is one way to learn, but it's not a good way to learn. If you do get hurt, you set yourself back physically, and even more mentally. Learning by crashing is not fun. Learning by succeeding and reaching personal milestones and goals is a lot more fun.

Perhaps there's a market opportunity here for someone who thinks they can teach or coach at a much more "reasonable" rate than what's currently offered?
 

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~~~
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Clinics are where you pay money to get things broken down and explained for you by someone not only expert at doing them, but expert at breaking down and explaining things. You pay to practice new skills in front of them and get helpful feedback. This does not take a lot of space. If you want to experience all of the trails at Demo, you can do that any day for free. Skills clinics can take place anywhere really - best clinic I had was in a parking garage in the rain. I find them to be worthwhile because there are plenty of people who are much better at mountain biking than me, and even more rare is someone who can teach. McCormack is one of the best there is.
Agreed.

For advanced riders who want to improve, and think they already know the basics and don't want to bother with the parking lot, I would say more focused camps or personal coaching is the way to go.

For anyone perfectly happy with their current skill level, and is having fun no matter what their riding ability may be, I would say you already know what you need to know.
 

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Purveyor of Trail Tales!
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Slightly OT.....but only slightly!

The class size was 8. 3 of use were from SF. The others were from San Jose, Peninsula, and Santa Cruz. The skills portion was about 3 hours, and actual ride time was around 3 hours. It's a trek from the city for sure, but worth it for the opportunity to translate the drills from the parking lot to the trails. Would I have preferred Tamarancho or Skeggs as a location? Definitely. But an extra 45-60 minutes of driving wasn't enough to discourage me from taking a day off work to ride my bike.

I found huge value in the clinic because of my newbie status, but I should also point out that I was probably tied for last in terms of rider experience. I'm definitely curious to hear the perspective of the more experienced riders who took the clinic.
Hi Folks,

I was lucky enough to take a one day class with 30+ high school racers and their coaches from Lee McCormack. 90% of it was in a parking lot and the rest happened on Granite Bay trails. I started riding back in 1983 and have dabbled in motocross, trials, unicycle, DH and AM riding. I've been to Moab, St. George, Whistler, Black Rock, Ashland, Mammoth and have had a season pass at Northstar for years. I'm experienced in that I can fall down in any mode of cycling I pursue! ;)

All that said I learned and "grocked" more in that parking lot from Lee than any other day I've spent in a class. He is both a gifted teacher as well as having a solid technical progression to share. Personally, I'd love to go spend a few days with him at his home teaching facility of Valmont Bike Park to take advantage of that wonderful progressive teaching venue.

I highly recommend his instruction and would bet that anyone would benefit from it!

Have fun however you get dirty,

Michael:thumbsup:
 

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I like riding my cheap made-in-china fully rigid with skinny tires bike on trails like RR and Stiles in STCP. Makes me feel like I'm developing "skills" since it's so difficult compared to full sus 29er. It seems cost effective versus a $700 class. I'll take it to Demo soon.
 

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M8 M12 M15 deez nuts
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I like riding my cheap made-in-china fully rigid with skinny tires bike on trails like RR and Stiles in STCP. Makes me feel like I'm developing "skills" since it's so difficult compared to full sus 29er. It seems cost effective versus a $700 class. I'll take it to Demo soon.
Ditto on the fully rigid ordeal building skills. Reliance on mechanical suspension aids before you actually build said skills sort of defeats the purpose; at least let your body feel what the bike is trying to do on the technical stuff, and then later on translate that into how your full suspension rig is compensating for it. Nothing beats riding up Stile Ranch and Rocky Ridge, and then riding back down both of them as fast as you think you can on a fully rigid bike… and dealing with the soreness and full body aches afterward… for me it justifies the lust for the pain numbing qualities of double IPAs.
 

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here's the thing: if you 'just do' stuff, you can teach yourself all kinds of very hard to unlearn bad habits.

apparently truck driving schools much prefer people who've never driving stick shift, because most people 'just do it' and do it wrong--the car makes up for the incompetence, but a truck won't.

a skills teacher (any topic) helps set the right path, or attempt to break the wrong one. usually skills are taught in low-risk scenarios--parking lots for driving/motorcycles/bicycles, easy slopes for skiing, whatever.

lee's a good teacher! (i took his class this weekend also, and applied what i learned the next day.)
 

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Nothing beats riding up Stile Ranch and Rocky Ridge, and then riding back down both of them as fast as you think you can on a fully rigid bike… and dealing with the soreness and full body aches afterward… for me it justifies the lust for the pain numbing qualities of double IPAs.
But your times on the fully rigid are comparable to mine on the FS :skep:
 
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