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Brian Lopes’ insights help perfect mountain biking skills

Best-selling book available now

Legendary athlete, Brian Lopes and his coauthor Lee McCormack released a second edition of the popular instructional guide in May of 2010. The new edition maintains the core objective of the first edition—improving mountain biking techniques—and expands on the content with information on pumping and braking techniques to increase speed in the turns, information on the newest bikes and equipment, and tips for completing advanced jumps and tricks.

The updated edition also features advice from Lopes on practice time, including four tips for perfecting mountain biking skills for beginning riders:

One thing at a time. When riding, concentrate on one skill or component of a skill. “Think about executing each move perfectly,” Lopes says. “Soon you’ll be doing it without thought, and then you can move on to the next thing.”

Don’t let bad habits take over. Some mistakes are expected while learning, but when repeated they become bad habits. Lopes advises making bad habits difficult to continue by removing temptations. “You could attach a blinder to the mouthpiece of your full-face helmet so you can’t look down,” Lopes says. “If you tend to grab the brakes for no reason, wrap your fingers around the grips.” He also suggests changing environments. “After you stop on the lip a few times, you probably will not go for it. Come back later or try a similar jump elsewhere.”

Think about what you want to do rather than what you’re trying to avoid. Concentrate on learning a particular skill instead of focusing on what shouldn’t be done. “If you think, Don’t stare into the hole, where do you think you’ll stare? Try repeating a positive mantra instead,” Lopes says.

Precision now, speed later. When working on a new skill, practice slowly on easy terrain. Going too fast will introduce errors and greatly increase the danger. “We want to train effective habits,” Lopes says. “Don’t make yourself a human missile and hope you learn something before you explode.”

“Ask yourself how you want to ride your bike, and then consciously practice the skills that will get you there,” Lopes concludes. 

For more information see Mastering Mountain Bike Skills.

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