Zen Mountain Biking: Improving Your Riding 100% in 30 Days

Jan 30, 2013
by James Wilson  
With a long, brutal winter facing me I decided to follow through on a lifelong ambition and take up Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. As part of the process I picked up a book called Zen Jiu Jitsu: How to Improve Your Game 100% in 30 Days. While it is a book about how to improve your BJJ game in just 30 days, the principles talked about in it apply nicely to mountain biking as well. At the heart of the program is the ability to identify an area of weakness and then design a plan to address it.

This can be tough for a lot of riders because it involves thinking about their riding in a different way. In order to identify an area of weakness you first have to acknowledge that 1) mountain biking isn’t a “talent” and different aspects of riding can be improved and that 2) you suck in some of those areas.

Some of the different areas of mountain biking include skills like pedaling (seated & standing), body position and cornering and/or fitness like attack position endurance or standing pedaling power. The more specific you can make it the better, but don’t get too specific – we want to focus on principles more than specific methods.

Once you’ve identified an area of weakness you need a plan to address it specifically. This too can be tough because it requires that you look at your workouts and rides as something that can create very specific responses in the body and that you focus on a specific area rather than trying to train everything at once.

Again, you need to think more along the lines of movement principles than recreating specific movements from the bike in the gym. Standing on a wobble board doesn’t make something more “mountain bike specific,” the basic movement patterns being trained do.

This also doesn’t mean that you exclude any other types of riding or training, just that you make a conscious effort to focus on your chosen area as much as possible. Once you have chosen an area to focus on and have the drills and exercises you need to do so then commit to working on this area at least 5 days a week for the next 30 days. This can be broken up into mobility work, strength work, skills drills and focus rides but every day you train you should have some element of your area of focus present.

After 30 days, take a 1-2 week break and then repeat the process. There is always something you can get better at, and as you progress those things will get smaller and more specific and will require more concerted effort to move the needle.

Some other things I took from the book:

- Be mindful of what you do. While turning the brain off and just “riding” is fun it doesn’t help you improve.

- It takes 10,000 hours of deliberate practice to master something. This reinforces the point about being mindful of what you do and that you need to have patience with the process.

- Study at other “schools.” In the book the author talked about the benefit of going to another school every once in a while to train. He said it was good to experience different rolling styles and energy levels of the school and students. I think this is extremely valuable for mountain bikers as well – try a different type of riding every once in a while, try to go out with another local riding group or take a skills class from a new coach.

- Keep the White Belt Mindset. Be humble and always assume that you can learn more and get better.

- Be aware of the Anti-You. This is the thing that intimidates and frustrates you. It could be a specific section of trail or a type of riding skill you don’t posses (yet) but the Anti-You is the mirror you need to break to take your riding to the next level. A lot of riders spend a lot of time and effort avoiding their Anti-You instead of seeking it out and facing it, which is why so many riders stop progressing at a certain point.

- Remember the sage advice of Tyler Durden: This is your life and it’s ending one minute at a time.

In my next article I'll post an outline on how to use this concept to Improve Your Body Position 100% in 30 Days...


MTB Strength Training Systems is the world leader in integrated performance training programs for the unique demands of mountain biking. As the strength and conditioning coach for World Cup Teams and 3 National Championships, his programs have been proven at the highest levels. James has helped thousands of riders just like you improve their speed, endurance and skills on the trail. Visit www.bikejames.com to sign up for the free Trail Rider Fundamentals Video Mini-Course.

The MTB Strength Training Systems Logo


  • 104 36
 Wow, "Mountain biking is not a talent" huh? I hate to rain on your mid-life crisis but mountain biking is most certainly a talent and no matter how much you're telling yourself that Gwin is only faster than you because he gets to practice all day, it isn't true...
  • 29 7
 I suppose anyone can if they are willing to put in the effort. Just some people will make longer to master the art...
  • 21 5
 no. some people jump on a bike and are automatically fast. I know a good few lads who have put in crazy hours over the last 4/5/6 years, and they still dont qualify for finals at a world cup. the difference between them and the top guys is talent. i think most people who work hard (properly hard) can become very fast, but regardless of how much practice they put in, they will never be world class, that last little bit of speed takes natural ability.
  • 33 2
 I think "natural talent" or genetics have their place but that will only get you so far. Talent is nurtured by hard work. Gwin wasn't born a great rider. He worked his ass off. Just like every single rider in the top 15 worked their asses off and made huge sacrifices to get to where they are. By just calling it "talent" I think you underestimate their achievements. Read "Talent Is Overrated" by Geoff Colvin. It'll open your eyes to what it actually takes to be the best.
  • 15 18
 badbadleroy: I suggest you checking out books and youtube lectures by Malcolm Gladwell, Geoff Colvin or Tony Robbins if you wanna go POP Big Grin Just before you decide to stand by. Or if you already have explored those areas of "psychology" - then apologize my arrogance.

Looking at my small daughter I can definitely say those guys go a bit too far with "you are born like a blank piece of paper" but they still have a lot of valid points which are very hard to disagree with. Truth seem to lie in between, but it is good to know how the opposite sides of spectrum look like. James is presenting a certain point of view, in a certain (intense and opinionated) way and thank God we have people like him - just as people who believe we are preprogrammed, either by gajillions of years of chemical reactions, or created this way by some god or spiritual entity.

Then we also have people who don't give fafa Big Grin - we need them too, otherwise those big heads would have no one to sign their books for.

  • 5 13
flag WAKIdesigns (Jan 30, 2013 at 5:07) (Below Threshold)
 oh, there it is, always good to hear it again

  • 5 1
 Colvin talks about a '10 year rule', and I think he is totally right! The thing is that most of us can not afford spending 10years of training to get world class because to be able to do so you will have to get recognition and have someone who supports you. If we take the example of mountain biking this support is normally given by sponsors, and here comes the problem. The get a sponsor you have to get attention and to do that you have to make prove of talent, in most casea ar least. So I think that it is possible the become world-class only by training. But to be able to get this amount of training done you either need talent or an important amount of luck.
  • 14 2
 "I know that I work hard... for instance it took me 4 years to learn a tail whip. Trying hard. And I've watched some guys learn it in a week. It's like talent, it only goes so deep you know.... you gotta have a little bit of talent and a whole lot of determination to get where you want to be."
-The Claw (Seasons)

I can't believe how controversial this article is in the comments! I took up tai chi in September due to a concussion I suffered on August 1st. For months tai chi was one of the only things I could do without getting headaches (yes, even yoga gave me headaches). It's sparked a whole zen journey for me, I'm currently reading Bruce Lee's book "Tao of Jeet Kune Do" and watching a lot of Kung Fu movies. You can apply many different learnings to mountain biking and they will all help -- it's synergy! I've noticed that (probably because I'm a girl) I'm a lot more vocal about what I want to work on and things I'm not good at than my riding buddies are. Either way, as much as I agree that the title is a marketing catch phrase, if nothing else the little "other things" tips at the end are awesome.
  • 7 8
 James always puts his head out there, so there's plenty of stuff many might consider controversial. But he always tries the stuff he talks about, so it's not just pure controversy, he seems to like to dig deeper and meanwhile he looks for new holes to dig - never happy with: "oh that worked so great for me, that's the best way to do something! I will continue this way to the rest of my life!

He is very "talented" or "wired" to be maladjusted, and I love it Big Grin
  • 11 0
 Talent is a vague word that the author shouldn't have used. You are born with your own unique dna which has a big influence on your potential, but racing a bmx bike at a young age would give an an average athlete an advantage in mtb over someone with more athleticism who never rode bmx. And the average athlete who never raced bmx will likely be slower than both.
  • 2 1
 WAKI-- you misunderstood me. I very much like James' articles and was passing no judgment on his style of presenting material -- I was merely surprised that *this article* was sparking such controversy from people in the comments. I figured even someone who wasn't going to actively apply these principles would be able to get *some*thing from reading this article and I am surprised at how much negativity and criticism there is in the replies. I was making no comment about James or his style of presenting controversial material (this topic is rather tame by his standards... remember the fuss the "warrior diet" kicked up? or the kettlebell swinging?)
  • 4 1
 There is a book called "Outliers" by Malcolm Gladwell that revolves very neatly around this exact topic.


And the title of this article is reminiscent of the book "Zen and the art of motorcycle maintenance."

Just a thought.
  • 5 0
 There was a really good article on decline about talent. It's not that people are born better at something. It's just that they're better at getting good at that thing. I'm sorry if I'm bursting some of your bubbles that you weren't born already good at biking and world cup riders are lucky because they were.
  • 8 1
 there is the Shaun Palmer take as well... sometimes its rad when balls beats natural talent... i try to incorporate bruce lee, shaun palmer, and james brown ideologies and style when i ride. always a work in progress
  • 2 0
 When talking about what makes certain riders faster then a whole list of killer riders, there is more to it then just time in the seat "AND" talent. Fairclaugh and Blenkinsop are both huge talents as well yet they're not kickin' out wins with the same frequency as Atherton, Minaar, Gwin, and Ragot.

Besides talent and skill, there is temperament and mindset. Those are similar, but they're not the same. Furthermore, temperament plays a huge factor here. And what about flow states and situational awareness?

How the best guys are processing information when at the limits of themselves and/or their machines is the place to look when separating the good from the great. This applies to all racing, sports, and combat as well.
  • 2 0
 @fullbug: I'd just LOVE for you to expound on the "James Brown" ideology!
  • 7 2
 I can't believe this guy is still in business.
  • 8 3
 If phrases like "break the mirror of the anti-you" don't set off your bullshit detector, I'm actually a nigerian prince...
  • 2 7
flag WAKIdesigns (Jan 30, 2013 at 9:40) (Below Threshold)
 Humbu tala le, auga tonga makha bantu! Wanga Matt-W limbu khanga Nigero lakambe!
  • 6 0
 I can sum up this artice in about a sentence. Eh em! Practice 5 days a week and work on things your not good at and you will get better at MTB....but this also works for Brazilian Jiu Jitszu. Smile
  • 5 0
 as an aside... the author of this article was Gwin's trainer before Tomac...
  • 4 1
 yea and when he teamed up with Tomac he started winning. Gwin had to step up to someone who knows his shit
  • 2 0
 Gwin is an argument in favor of James. 2009 (before Yeti teamed up with James) Gwin was 10th overall. In 2010 (after teaming up) Gwin was 3rd overall. As far as my opinion of the article I agree with parts and disagree with others. Talent is only so deep, and I'm sure this kind of mindset will help a lot more people... or if you prefer you can give up because you're not talented enough.
  • 1 0
 him being 10th overall was probably due more to the fact he was new to the sport than anything. The crazy guy JW probably helped guide him a little, but look at how he killed everyone having a very good coach in his corner.
  • 16 2
 Just wanted to clarify two points...

1. The title of the article is not a marketing message but, I thought, an obvious play on the title of the book I read.

2. I am setting up an article series showing you specific mobility, strength and skills drills you can do to improve specific aspects of your riding. Again, I thought this would be obvious from the last sentence in the article. The article series would not make as much sense without this article setting up the rationale for the approach.

Sorry that I did not make those things more obvious, I hate to see my attempt to help riders improve their mindset towards training get mired down by them. Hope that everyone enjoys the training tips and info I have planned for you in 2013...

BTW, I worked with Gwin for over a year before he rode for Yeti. I helped him go from 3rd at Fontana to 3rd in the world. He has certainly continued to improve since working with Tomac but I can tell you that he exemplifies the principles I talk about in this article and his mindset and focus on how improve are what set him apart from every other "next big thing" I've worked with.
  • 4 0
 @BDKR - sorry for the late response. about the james brown ideology.. very simple really. it's just about soul and feeling good about what you're doing. if those two things aren't clickin for me i stop riding and kidding myself and check how much I want it (before i stack it and can't continue! haha). Everyone has their own way me thinks. i know i do. i don't see anything wrong with the article. it's just a suggestion, opinion, and a perspective. nbd.
  • 2 0
 Fullbug- you're awesome! Someone ought to combine their DNA and create an uber badass.
  • 1 4
 DrSanchez: I think there are few better compliments to what James does, than the latest vid of Greg Minaar doing off-season training - because pretty much every single exercise Greg does there is in James´ UMTBW training program so... you can do yourself a big favour and follow his blog, buy his program - there is nothing as good out there, so easily available. Eventualy Lee McCormacks "Pump up the base".

He will never be a pop-authority because he wants you to go through a lot both physicaly and mentaly, before you start deadlifting and bench pressing. That is a right thing to do, yet a very unattractive one.
  • 2 1
 f*ck this, im playing xbox
  • 1 0
 We all know that talent is indeed part of the equation; talent and wheaties ha. It's the mindset James was addressing. The mindset of having talent and knowing it. Being talented can give entitlement. Feeling entitled can lead you to neglect those "different aspects of riding that can be improved". Overall I agree with you though talent is present.
  • 2 2
 @WAKI, any trainer that says flat pedals are faster than spds more than likely has some other oddball ideas as well.
  • 1 0
 Totally agree, early bmx years will give a big advantage. Probably the biggest, learning all the fundamentals so early in life, then jump on a mountain bike for the first time... Boom ...talent? No, bike handling skills!
  • 2 0
 @Fullbug: OK... I'm down with that. Pretty damn cool way of looking at it actually.
  • 1 1
 DrSanchez: James has never said they are faster, he might have said: they make you faster. To my understanding the point he is making is that, you should ride flat pedals as much as you can, because they develop good pedal stroke and riding skills way better than clipless. So thay take you to a higher level of efficiency in a quite "natural" manner what is very hard to achieve on clips. When comes the race day, you are more than welcome to put your clipless on. I personaly have no problem what's so ever to jump from flats to clips, but the other way around is not so easy.

Even Brian Lopes used to say that he starts season on flats for that reason (and for more fun), Lee McCormack used to be a great flats fan, then he changed back to preachign clipless and lately he is not sure if not to go back to flats again. I love his way on it: flats for fun, clipless for work.
  • 1 0
 Yes and no. Palmer was talent, yet never got to really be at the top, he never was winning and dominating. And years ago, before it got so pro and everything, talent alone was guarantee to win, but not anymore, and not in Gwinn's case.

Gwinn isn't by any account more skilled than Gee or Greg, if anything skill wise he's probably a bit below them, yet he's (and this is the reason he's been so dominating) that last bit extra commited to the training that Gee and Greg are trying to find. The same that Brendog, who probably is the most raw skilled rider on the world cup circuit right now, is looking for. By the talent rule, Sam Hill should still be obliterating it's competition, as he's not old at all yet and he was dominating and a force to be reckoned with just 4 or 5 years ago, but he's not. Injuries and lowered focus (which means less training) have gotten the best part of him lately.

Yet indeed just work doesn't cut it, otherwise Dan Atherton would be the unbeatable champion at anything he attempted, and he's not even the best rider in his family. So what I'm saying is that yes, to be top of the world you need the talent part, but without the effort and training you won't get there. And for us mortals, we don't have that elite skillset, so the training will make us much better, and on average, between a random pair of us, the one putting the extra effort will usually come out on top.
  • 1 0
 WAKI... that was his claim after much back pedalling. When he first came out with the "flats are faster" argument, he said that even road riders are just as fast if they used flats. Plus he also said you can get more power and a much more efficient pedal stroke with flats. If you take a very proficient flats rider vs a newb spd rider then yes his argument would have merit. But for someone who is fully capable on both types, a rider who is clipped in will be faster every time.
  • 2 0
 +1 DrSanchez... Anyone who says that flats are faster than clipped is a special kind of stupid... it's simply not possible to control the angular momentum of a high cadence with efficiency unless you're attached to the pedals. Any argument to the contrary is just someone selling their own preference.
  • 2 0
 You sir deserve a medal....... You are amazing at telling people they are wrong!
up top to that.... Comment high five (oomph/ slap other high nioses)
  • 1 0

I do brazilian jiujitsu and in this sport, even if you can beat everyone fairly consistently, there will always be the "anti-you", which is the one guy everyone beats but somehow manages to beat you consistantly for some obscure reason. Nobody likes losing but you will learn a lot more from losing ten times to that guy than if you won a thousand matches without too much trouble.

Doing bjj I noticed that a lot of people are extremely lazy and have big egos. They will find a way to beat you and wont tell you how to improve because if they do and you beat them, it bruises their ego and they will also have to work to think of new ways to come on top. In the mtb world this translates into avoiding that brutal rock garden or that nasty drop because you're not good at those. Or avoiding the flatter trails because you have to pedal and your cardio clearly isnt up to par. That is a surefire way to remain mediocre.
  • 30 1
 What's with all the haters? James Wilson has written many great articles and is widely respected in the mountain bike community by pros and amateurs alike.
This article isn't a recipe to be an awesome rider, it's an application of a well proven ethos to a different activity.
If you don't like the article take it with a pinch of salt and go about your amazing ways of improving your riding instead of ripping into it. More time riding and less time typing might improve your riding…
  • 1 1
 Very well said.
  • 4 1
 i very much agree MarkyB. Its simply a philosophy for improvment in any physical, or mental activity. from a mental standpoint, everything he says in this article is very much true regarding our own denial of our weaknesses and our inability to address them. it doesn't take much self awareness to know that about humans, but looking at all the responses, maybe it does. perhaps the backlash is coming from those who are too proud to even admit that they aren't perfect, and therefore look for any reason to bash this article, even as much as a petty disagreement to a minor statement such as "mtb is not a talent". the more defensive one gets, the more guilty they are of it.
  • 46 17

How much did this advert cost?
Plz dont let PB go down the toilet this way.
I get emails telling me i can improve my sex life in 30days and lose weight too! They go straight to spam.
  • 15 2
 Everyone is so quick to jump James, and for what?

Posting *free* information that will help your riding improve?

Visit his website and watch the countless *free* videos on improving technique, fit, skills, etc.

Read the countless *free* advice articles.

This guy just wants to help people improve their riding ability. Sure, he has paid services but I ask, why is that so wrong? Stop vilifying James for doing what he loves to provide for his family. Most of these comments are a joke.
  • 5 11
flag Matt-W (Jan 30, 2013 at 9:24) (Below Threshold)
 Protip: Just because something is free doesn't mean you should take it. Example - STDs
  • 3 3
 No doubt. Howabout he shows us techniques and things we can do on a bike that will help us in certain situations? I would never sign up for something as general and broad as this.
  • 6 2
 a650B - the great thing is, you didn't have to sign up to read what you just did. Beautiful, isn't it? And, if you've ever been to his website and perused his articles and videos you would likely hurry back here to retract your comment. He has a TON of information to help riders in all different types of situations - specific and general. And you know what else? It's all FREE.

Hoping I don't come off as a James Wilson apologist here; if he were blasting his stuff all over the place, demanding you sign up to receive just one sliver of useful information, then I would be in the same boat with most peeps here. However, being as that is so far from actual reality, I feel it necessary to takes James' side on this one and defend him.
  • 3 0
 You want to improve your sex life and loose weight go ask out that chick!!
  • 1 0
 Ive been to his site and watched a few videos well before this article caught my eye. Training for biking is not rocket science. You look at specific muscle groups that you use while riding and train those groups. Work on balance, strength training in your legs, flexibility etc. The Anti-you? Seriously? If someone isnt trying new things on a regular basis, like bigger drops, big hills, steep technical descents they are not (IMO) trying to improve. I dont need this article to teach me how to train or focus on the Anti-Me. I'm not trying to bash James at all just simply stating this article was of no help to me. Maybe it helped others out though.
  • 16 0
 Daniel: Wouldn't a fly swatter be easier?
Miyagi: Man who catch fly with chopstick accomplish anything.
Daniel: Ever catch one?
Miyagi: Not yet.
  • 2 6
flag krsh (Jan 30, 2013 at 3:15) (Below Threshold)
 miss post.. :/
  • 13 0
 Cool cross-training with martial arts philosophy. Worth a try. I can only get better (that's my white belt talking).
  • 2 0
 I always use my old meditation techniques learned in Martial arts before hucking my meat.
  • 1 0
 i have a third degree blackbelt in smorgasboard....
  • 11 1
 i don't see what the issue with this article is, and the gwin comments are silly. hes guna be forced to practice his slower sections/weak spots, as a pro athlete its his responcibility to be good at everything, as weekend warriors we can and do often just pick out the fun bits and fudge the rest. if your in denial about this you've probably got a spec machine and you still get rinsed by some nutjob with half a working bike... harsh truths and a kneejerk reaction scream denial. i liked this article, i'd like to see more of/like it. although it was quite ambivilent... more advice on how to identify what could help you work out what will help you improve on your weak spots, filming yourself or telling your riding buddies to be critical is a good way to go. but assessing which muscle groups might be letting you down is tricky...
  • 10 1
 To the "marketing haters" on here... I don't know James personally but...

If it wasn't for marketing, there would be no pinkbike for you to comment on... This whole site lives and breathes through the businesses that chose to promote their stuff on it. If they didn't then Pinkbike would not be the fantastic "free" resource that you love.

James produces great content in the hope that it'll attract new clients, new buyers for his stuff, so he can run a business, feed a family, enjoy riding his bike and produce yet more great content. Sometimes you need to hit people over the head with a brick of marketing to break through the noise of all the other marketing messages we see on a daily basis...

I'd say good luck to James for continuing to produce excellent FREE content in the hope of making a few sales, JUST like EVERY other piece of content on this site Smile
  • 8 1
 Just to clarify two points... 1. The title of the article is not a marketing message but, I thought, an obvious play on the title of the book I read. 2. I am setting up an article series showing you specific mobility, strength and skills drills you can do to improve specific aspects of your riding. Again, I thought this would be obvious from the last sentence in the article. The article series would not make as much sense without this article setting up the rationale for the approach. Sorry that I did not make those things more obvious, I hate to see my attempt to help riders improve their mindset towards training get mired down by them. Hope that everyone enjoys the training tips and info I have planned for you in 2013...
  • 6 0
 I agree with what James has said here. In the book 'Talent is overrated' it talks about deliberate practice. It used Micheal Phelps as an example. He got to gold medal status by practicing his ass off and working hard. Could any of us get to that point? Maybe, maybe not. He was gifted with the perfect body that is extra efficient at swimming so he has an 'edge' but not god given talent.

To discredit the likes of Gwin by saying he was born talented is an insult to him and all professionals in their field. They all work their asses off and have that special drive we all lack, but could have if we so desired. I have bills to pay and want to buy shit I don't need so I spend most of my time at work instead of training.
  • 8 3
 I think it is a bold statement to say we can all be twice as good in 30 days......
Can the Gwinner be 100% better?

In fact telling anyone they CAN improve by 100% is really just telling them they aren't very good at what they do......
Dangerous in any sport...

Wouldn't it be wiser to say something like:
'You can be that last 15% better to make you the complete athlete'
  • 6 0
 marketing blurb dude.....
  • 2 1
 I don't think that 100% means you will be twice as good but just that you will DEFINITELY see an improvement, maybe just 5% but it is still an improvement. Nowhere in the article does it say that you will be twice as good, that is just your misinterpretation.
Gwinner has room for improvement. If you watched world cups you could have seen several short interviews with him where he said he wasn't entirely satisfied with his run, that he made mistakes, albeit small ones and that he could improve.
  • 7 2
 Improving 100% does mean getting twice as good. It's called maths.
  • 2 0
 Allow me to retort. Improving BY 100% means that.
  • 2 0
 Ah, touché.

But actually, the word BY makes no difference, though it would be grammatically correct. According to your previous reasoning, improving 100% means improving a bit "maybe just 5%". But the definition of 100% is "the full amount". 100% can not be 5% or any other percentage less than 100. It's just not possible.

I agree with your logic though, it's just that the title "Improving Your Riding 5%" doesn't sound so good...
  • 1 0
 Actually it's probably '' 100% chances that you will see an improvement in your riding'' ... Doesnt say how much though.. Ahhhh marketing..
  • 3 4
 Gab930 - you are an idiot. Any form of deliberate training and practice will improve your riding 100% sure. Im following James since 3,5 year, and I do his program for the third year in a row. I see a gigantic improvement in my strength and firness, I am able to do more comparing to what I could before I started training. Most of all Riding is as fun as ever for me, it was a huge boost of skill.

Now, you guys can whine as much as you want, there are no other so complex MTB specific training programs out there. There is James and lately Lee McCormack has released his "pump up the base". Otherwise you can either take MX or roadie programs and try to make something out of them yourself.

And Im sure you can, you bad ass
  • 2 0
 WAKIdesigns - you didn't get twice as good in 30 days, did you? Because that means in 3 years you'd be 68,719,476,736* times better than when you started. We're arguing maths here, not whether the programme works.

Ergo, you're the idiot.

(*That's 2^36, by the way).
  • 1 1
 Do you take everything literaly? Good luck with that! Are you a person who always tries something and then returns used under the condition of 30 days satisfaction guarantee?
  • 2 0
 f*cking math formulas - what is wrong with you kids? I finished school 8 years ago (two universities) with high marks, I got a f*ckin best diploma award - yet hate to mathematics, opposition to geeky science was a point of honour to most of my generation! Right now I deal with a 29yr olf project leader (from contractor side) he is more into costs and schedules than his 50 yr old boss! Try to tell him about creative solutions...

What the f*ck happened with the world?
  • 1 0
 Waki, it's hard to argue with those that know all. As far as what happened to the world....ego, greed, instant gratification, the so called civilized society. It's increasing exponentially. Can't be bothered to really WORK for something. Mr.Colvin is spot on. Thanks to James for bringing this kind of stuff to light, it's obviously stirred some minds around here.
  • 1 0
 WAKIdesigns - you hate maths? That's amazing, because if it wasn't for maths then mountain bikes wouldn't exist. Every bike you've ever ridden will have been designed by an engineer. The comment "opposition to geeky science was a point of honour to most of my generation" is just ridiculous. If everyone of your generation thought that way then the world wouldn't develop. If you hate maths so much stop using things which were invented by its use (cars, bikes, the internet, computers).

Calicopter - I'm not really sure what the point of your comment is. I think you're saying that the arduous and frankly amazing ability to study maths is somehow making the world worse. Or that training your body is somehow superior to training your brain? Odd.

The funny thing is that I've been following James' programme for a while now too, and it's great. I've noticed real changes and my riding has definitely improved. However, it didn't improve 100% in 30 days.
  • 1 0
 @ witica:How great it is to be misunderstood! My point really has little to do with math or numbers, but more of people arguing the merits of such a program. Perhaps even your own improvements couldn't be clinically proven as 100%, but you could state that your percieved improvement is 100%.Everyone is so hung up on the numbers. When you train your body, are you not also training you brain?

I still commend the man for offering advice to help us advance in an area that we all love.
  • 1 0
 WAKIdesigns - Hey woah there buddy, calm down... Don't accuse me of being an idiot for saying something completely innocent. But like stated above me, I doubt your speed and performance doubles every 30 days. I'm not denying that you have seen an improvement in your riding, it's totally great that you have, good for you really! But don't hate on me for reforming a sentence that is being misunderstood by everybody ಠ__ಠ ...
  • 3 0
 I believe most comments have missed the point: James made a BJJ course and read a book. He is telling us his experience and his thoughts on how to apply it to the sport we love. I do not see any marketing stunt from his side.
  • 4 2
 I enjoyed this article, and to anyone who says that mtn biking is a talent is wrong. Certain people have certain talents, and with training those talents can be brought into their riding.. IE the Gwin.. He didn't start out on top, he built his way up with training every day. Think about your own personal riding abilities.. You think you sat on your bike and were able to throw down immediately? No. My point, good article and has information in it you can use.
  • 2 0
 I like some of the articles that James Wilson writes, but his marketing leaves a lot to be desired. I recently saw a post "don't twist your hips when cornering" which flies in the face of stuff he has posted previously.

Internet marketing is full of this kind of psychological marketing bullshit and it is a shame that pink bike has let this onto the main page.

In future please leave this kind of stuff to the people selling miracle creams and weight loss pills.

  • 2 0
 If you had read the first paragraph then you would understand that it doesn't contradict anything. The article just explains how to twist the hips properly. Don't judge an article just by it's title.
  • 2 0
 I started BJJ in 1988, and I started mountain biking a few years later. There is no doubt BJJ helps mountain biking...for that matter it helps ever sport. When you are twisted, off balance, cortorted its a challenge similar to DH- then add someone trying to choke the life out of you, or hyperextending your shoulder you realize what focus is. As for getting injured - its just a matter of conditioning and the right instructor, and not having an ego that prevents you from tapping before injury. Its a toss up for which one I enjoy more but I can say from years of experience- from grip strength, to balance, to spacial awareness BJJ helps.
  • 2 0
 "I know that I work hard... for instance it took me 4 years to learn a tail whip. Trying hard. And I've watched some guys learn it in a week. It's like talent, it only goes so deep you know.... you gotta have a little bit of talent and a whole lot of determination to get where you want to be."
-The Claw (Seasons)
  • 2 0
 Learning from other areas of life is good. Nice post James. Lots of useful information here & I look forward to learning more.
"The greats weren't great because at birth they could paint. The greats were great cause they paint a lot" MacklemoreSmile
  • 1 0
 "They had a broken keyboard, I bought a broken keyboard
I bought a skeet blanket, then I bought a kneeboard"
  • 2 0
 I don't believe there is a "talent" for mountain biking or any sport. I do believe some of us have much better balance and much more awareness of how to maneuver our bodies using our core. I think many times that is where athletic "talent" comes from, especially in a sport like Mountain Biking. I started out riding horses, not bikes. Riding horses requires a superior sense of balance and the ability to adjust your body around your core at a moment's notice. Horses do things that bikes don't do on their own. The awareness of my core really helped when I started biking seriously and I notice more and more how important it is now that I am racing downhill. Biking takes a lot of strength (especially tricky for women), balance, body awareness, focus, and the ability to find flow. It is a very Zen pursuit. I think James' article is spot on. Becoming a better mountain biker takes a lot of humility too. Taking a hard look at yourself and realizing where your weaknesses lie is one of the most difficult things to do in life. It takes courage of a different sort. The top riders have that courage. And anyone can get there with the right mindset and determination.
  • 2 0
 its funny all the bashing this article is getting. from what i see, it all comes off as:

"i dont want to have to think about anything, AND THEN work super hard on top of that in order to be awesome at mtn biking. how dare you tell me i'm not the best rider out there?"

go ahead and thumbs down me. your actions are only showing that i'm right Smile
  • 3 0
 No, this is a great point. People don't like being told that they're wrong or ineffective or not the best. The majority of humans have an ego problem -- but that's why we manage to stay alive... Ego is key to self-preservation. However, ego also kills talent and encourages mediocrity. Those who possess enough self-confidence (which is different than ego) yet continue to maintain an unusual amount of humility always seem to be the most successful.

My only problem with this article isn't that I disagree with its content or the overall theme; my issue is that it feels like a book report yet is supposed to come from a fitness and bike industry professional. Smile

You're right on though. It's a pretty solid collection of clif notes. Wink
  • 2 0
 My only problem with this article isn't that I disagree with its content or the overall theme; my issue is that it feels like a book report yet is supposed to come from a fitness and bike industry professional.
Agree^ he should be writing his own book not reiterating someone else's work.
  • 2 0
 Why can't mountain biking be about fun? This article sounds like some obsessive father telling their son they need to work hard to achieve something they don't want. Don't tell me that I need to get better at biking you fvck. I bike because it is one of the few sports that I don't need to worry about getting better.
  • 5 4
 The Sage, Tyler Durden, also said that advertising has us chasing cars and clothes, working jobs that we hate so we can buy shit we don't need. ...he now advertises Chanel No 5.

I'd take everything "he says" with a pinch of salt.
  • 4 0
 Brad Pitt (or Edward Norton) is not Tyler Durden. Tyler Durden is a fictional character created to critique the way many people go about living their lives. Brad Pitt is just the guy who got the part of playing him in a movie and as such none of his actions can be called the actions of Tyler Durden. Off-topic, but jussayin'.

On this article:

The ability to be able to search out the deficiencies in one's own skill-set and then attack those deficiencies with purposeful, targeted training is more important than any innate ability one has when starting. That's what I got out of it, and I agree with it wholeheartedly. It won't matter if you can scrub like a pro if you can't figure out that you are having trouble with steep, technical areas and apply targeted training in order to progress in that weakness; you'll never be as fast as the guy who knows that he has to work on scrubbing and techy areas, applies his training accordingly, and progresses in both areas.
  • 4 0
 Forget Brad Pitt. Read the book, buddy (Chuck Palahnuik is the author). It's about embracing your life, every dirty second of it, and moving forward with consciousness and not allowing your focus to be external. The same point that this article seems to be attempting to make.
  • 2 3
 to equate a fictional character (who may or may not possess practical wisdom is up to you) with a person in reality is just stupid.
  • 2 1
 crybabies thumbs downing a true statement. grow some balls.
  • 2 0
 jeeeeezaz...talking about taking things too seriously! Maybe pinkbike needs the comic sans font if you want to post something tongue in cheek!!
  • 1 0
 ^ actually on the car forums they made sans courier the "sarcasm" font which is great.
  • 2 1
 Good post, nice to see some variety of content, rather than just another 29'er rant or another bunch of dudes doing back flips...

The last 4-5 points on the article are nice... I bet that Gwin has eaten well in to the 10,000 hours a few times over to be the very best in this game rather than the weekend hackers who've become an EXPERT pink bike commenter ;o)

Applying the third one "Study At Another School" in a months times, heading off for a skills course in the Maritime alps... having ridden the same home trail literally 100s of times means I am not moving forward with my MTB skills

Good stuff James, look forward to the next article
  • 1 0
 29'ers..... ya, what ever happened to those things?
  • 1 0
 BJJ will not help your mountain-bicycling skills and vice versa:

- Jits leads to injuries. Which means you cannot ride for a while. Which means you are itching to ride when you finally get better. And when you do...
- MTB leads to injuries. Which means you cannot roll for a while. Which means you are itching to roll when you finally get better. And when you do...


At least this has been my experience. Maybe I am just shit at both.
  • 2 0
 Probably, bjj has greatly improved my fitness and core strength. Cycling has increased my leg strength which helps with takedowns and sweeps when rolling. I have nnever had an injury from 1 stop me do the other
  • 2 0
 Also saying 'jits' is stupid.

Also I don't think he is talking about just these sports but cross training in general.

Also where do you train? Compete much?
  • 1 0
 actually many mtb coaches would agree with the article in terms of BJJ being excellent cross training for mtb. the core training, upper body positioning for long periods of time, and quick short movements in a confined space are the consistencies between the two, not to mention strength endurance involved with BJJ. a 5-minute DH track requires about the same type of strength endurance and deliberate changes in body position.
  • 1 0
 Although as I whole, I agree w/ the first part of that post, I strongly disagree w/ the "Be mindful of what you do" comment. Spending time on the bike and "just riding" is a great way to improve...especially your confidence on your bike.
  • 2 0
 Might be different for other people, that worked for me at the beginning but after a while I stopped improving. By concentrating on something, like cornering posture, which break I use more (front/rear), riding switch stance more, etc. my riding started improving again. Again, that works for me, might be different for other (lucky) people who can improve by "just riding".
  • 1 0
 agreed, I spent an hour focusing on braking. instead of my usual pedal 10meters only to brake into a steep left hander I decided to step back and roll in off the brakes and continue to move back, in an hour I was now back to sprinting 10-15meters (faster than before) but this time I was not braking before hand just railing it in. Its amazing how much "focused training" can improve riding.
  • 2 0
 I respect your opinion. However, may i suggest you read 'Mind Gym' from Gary Mack? It may open your eyes to an entirely different way of thinking.

'Being mindful' is where focus comes from. 'Being mindful' is how an athlete addresses fear, prepares for the worst and then moves forward. 'Being mindful' is how one improves beyond being a mediocre rider and one who is calculated, focused and successful because that rider knows their body and their mind, inside and out.
  • 1 1
 I have read mind gym its very sub-par book, if you enjoyed it though and want a more overall in depth I would suggest. "thinking body dancing mind" And even "the way of the champion" both by Chungliang Al Huang and Jerry Lynch.
I found mind gym to be very basic and the other two significantly better.

Also the concept of mind gym and the like isn't to not be mindful all the time but during competition, you need to be mindful during training and its important to assess and address your weakness's and take self assessment, there is a balance of letting go and focus. Its this mindfulness and preparation that allows you to become mindless on race day. When you are fully prepared, when you know your ability you can let go. Also the idea is to control the controllable not don't control anything. In that gate you have no more preparation, no control over the others, just you and the track, you should know your lines.
  • 1 0
 @slidways: I have both of those, although I definitely enjoyed, "The way of the champion" much more. Basic isn't always a bad thing, dear. Smile Mindfulness means many things to many people.
  • 1 0
 Yeah I have found the way of the champion to be a better read too. I think that's key, the mental state of a rider is so different between where we feel comfortable. I like to think about a riding session, at first your not really too focused and your a little cold, then as you warm up your in the zone then towards the end you start getting too focused and you mess up. everyone needs to find there own happy place. I think mind gym talks about that on a 0-10 scale.
  • 2 1
 James, I've read a log of your articles on PB and on your website, I also subscribe to your newsletter and I've followed a fair bit of your advice to good result. I've considered buying your ultimate program but it's articles like this one that have stopped me. It's a real shame because you seem to know what you're talking about and you explain things well but the sales and marketing hype that you use is really off putting. It cheapens the whole thing and makes me question your integrity, I've almost entered my credit card details and pulled the trigger on a program a few times but the sales bullshit on your page makes me feel as though I'm buying dick pills from a sketchy website. To be fair, it seems to be a pretty common thing throughout the fitness industry and there's countless products and programs that use ridiculous marketing banter to make some crazy claims. Most riders hate marketing hype and bullshit sales pitches and that's what this reads like. There's no no need for it, give us the good info and advice and cut the guff. Cheers!
  • 2 1
 I too am in this boat, FB and email subscriptions but have not forked over the cash. I feel james is always learning and growing with his ideas and concepts and many times I have thought of new ways to train only to have his blog pop out the same information a few months later. this is what leads me to believe like myself james is constantly learning and with learning comes mistakes and some not so good ideas. I think the goal of the article as I took it is plainly "focused and purposeful training" unfortunately i think it is let down by the flare of selling it to us and it sort of hid the message.
  • 2 1
 10 000 hour / 10 year rule is absolute crap also it is misunderstood, the concept comes from outliers and it takes about 10 000 hours to not become a master but to become the best of the best we are talking people like einstein, mozart the best of the best.
You can become professional or even a master in much less hours.
Also consider the type of practice 10 000 hours of just riding will do very little compared to 1000 hours of purposeful mindful training.
People have been proffesional at 4000 and 6000 hours. The outliers is not only misunderstood but a outdated concept.

In terms of the "not a talent" I agree but also disagree, we have seen riders notably Justin Leov who stated himself he is not the most flashy rider out there but he make up for it in enthusiasm and his drive. Most people with training and dedication could be wc rider, talent kicks in when you are against people who have also put in the time and training. If we all training like wc riders we would be surprised how far we could get in this sport.
  • 2 0
 i'll sum up your essay with these twelve words: everyone wants to be pro, but nobody wants to do the work.
  • 1 0
 @cuban-b yeah pretty much. 10 000 hours rule is crap, talent has its place but people seem to almost use it as a excuse to not bother.
  • 1 0
 I started biking years ago to help keep in shape for skiing. I found that they both feed off each other, line selection, different ways of looking at a trail, fitness levels have all improved from using one sport to improve at the other. What I took from the article is to think outside the box.
  • 1 0
 Thank you Mr. JAMES WILSON. It's so cool that you freely share things that can improve your life, and your life of riding! Old school Martial Artists will always say... Practice to improve. Practice with a goal in mind. 10 years, or 10,000 hours can make you a Master. Then after you get there...it's back to being a white belt and you must start over again! I have a very good life because of these beliefs.
  • 1 0
 Good article...at least to me. Maybe it's not for everyone.

The main message here is practice. Something I need to do more of. 'Practice' doesn't always mean 'makes perfect', but practicing (assuming you're repeating the technique over and over again correctly) will make you better. That's all the author is saying, at least that's what I got out of it.

Learn to do it right, however many times it takes to get to 'right'. Then do it right 10,000 times. Sure, that might be exaggeration, but it's mainly for effect.

It's just about getting and being better at something. Whatever your personal 'better' is. Nothing about necessarily becoming the 'best'.

But I do have to say that some people are definitely more talented at certain things than others. That's a fact. No amount of practice will elevate certain people to superstar. That's reserved for a small percentage.
  • 1 0
 @fullbug. I laughed when I read your methods. I practice a James Brown method too. When I'm stressed on the track (normally when attempting a crux section) I sing to myself James' lyrics:

"Whoa-oa-oa! I feel good, I knew that I would, now
I feel good, I knew that I would, now
So good, so good, I got you"

Always gets me more relaxed and going Smile
  • 1 0
 I personally have used a lot of Japanese sword fighting books from mid 16th century and was able to transfer the same information, like the other martial arts books listed. This one is free online. You will have to adapt your cycling to the ways of a swordsman, but the psyche game, which is what Scott Sharples preaches is more the battle than being just fast down the track. The mental aspect, your thoughts and the "No Mind" strategy has long been used over the years. Mountain biking is so life and death, but it can be the same lightning fast reaction time a swordsman had in a fight to the death. here is where you can download a free copy en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Unfettered_Mind its at the bottom, ebook/adobepdf
  • 1 0
 I agree to both sides. I have put countless hours into my bike and skills needed to ride it completely but it is my mind that holds me back. Its my mind that hits the brake when I go faster than im comfortable with. Its my mind that makes me chicken jumps that I tell myself I cant do them. Train your mind and you will be suprised what you can do. Or in my case get rolling drunk till you get the balls to try that jump/trick/route and brake your elbow haha
  • 6 3
 This advert is proudly brought to you by Snake Oil Promotions. i.imgur.com/Yex24P1.jpg
  • 4 0
 Does it come with a power balance wrist band?
If so, count me in!

Now just need someone to come scrub my Chakra
  • 5 3
 So I can double my skill (increase by 100%) in 30 days? Hate to break it to you but no amount of motivational life coaching is going to do that. Stupid article.
  • 2 2
 I fail to notice the by word in the "increase your riding 100%" in the article. Different sentence, different meaning.
  • 3 1
 the title of this article is: "Zen Mountain Biking: Improving Your Riding 100% in 30 Days" Hence double your riding ability. Its Stupid.
  • 1 1
 so if it is not a talent please do explain to me how is it possible that after training something for a couple years i can see people that just fly past me on every level of the sport in a year ?

this happened to me with skateboarding.. started it at roughly the age of 13 and then when i was 15-16 we had some new kids joining our "crew" and a few of them just slingshotted themselves like 4 years of practice in 1 summer.
If it is indeed not talent that gave them those skills then it must be trough training .. well i trained a LOT and i had a good 2 years of training behind me when they first jumped on a board. so how is it possible then ? .. talent maybe ?
  • 2 0
 Focus and mental state does a lot too. If you go into your training thinking "I'm not improving as fast as someone else is" you most definitely wont improve as much as you could with a positive attitude.
  • 1 0
 or, you're no good at skateboarding. kidding! (not really)
  • 1 0
 it's not the article, but the responses from users, that make me go to vital more often these days. what a bunch of alpha douches we got here Smile . and i mean that in the nicest way. thumbs up.
  • 3 0
 Skill, level of fear, hard work, and luck!!! In that order.
  • 1 2
 To me, this article feels more like a book report or a summarization of James' opinions on the book than any 'professional' advice from a trainer or a coach. He wrote an article a few months back for Decline that felt the same way. Maybe it's his writing style or his delivery, but I rubs me the wrong way and comes off as an opinion piece about someone else's information. Also: the title of the article? Sensationalist and pretty much bullshit. Sorry that I'm not sorry for thinking this way.

I personally think it's a great book; I found some of the same principles to be helpful, although I took much of the advice as just that -- advice from a BJJ master who knows tons about mindfulness and the art of work.

I understand the value of brain literature and and I choose to study mental focus on the regular. However, I would REALLY like to read about James' personal knowledge and opinions on riding, body positioning, focus, fitness and troubleshooting, etc without a book report or his parroting whatever book he's read lately. I know this sounds harsh, but he's supposed to be a fitness and MTB professional -- he's supposed to know certain things the we don't. Tell us those things, not your interpretation of what someone else who wrote a book thinks... We can read the book and form our own opinions from there.

Basically, if you want a recommendation of books to read for mental performance, I can give you that, too. 'Mind Gym' by Gary mack will always be my bible for focus and performance.

James... Please give us actual cases and examples and client results of the stuff you're practicing and the why and the how. Smile
  • 1 0
 Aaaaaaand bring on the negative props from people who didn't read my comment or don't agree with my opinion. Whatever. Smile
  • 1 1
 ambatt - Mind Gym is on top of the list of stuff recommended to read by James...
  • 1 0
 You completely missed the point, bud.
  • 1 0
 Question about this "Anti-You" Would that be some limiting factor that scares you like learning a new trick or a part of a trail you're having trouble with?
  • 1 0
 Hell, u don't even need to train really hard to become fast. Most of us do. But anyone remember a bloke called Palmer? Does not get any more natural if u ask me.
  • 3 0
 wtf was this?
  • 1 1
 uh, all i see is practice 5 days a week for 30 days and DUH you will improve
  • 1 0
 Great article! Nothing stands alone.
  • 1 0
 Leave the haters, u either want it or you don't :-)
  • 1 0
 Lot, not log*
  • 1 0
 Cool story
  • 1 2
 Just say no

Post a Comment

Copyright © 2000 - 2019. Pinkbike.com. All rights reserved.
dv56 0.038318
Mobile Version of Website