Video: Conquering the Steeps of the Whistler Mountain Bike Park - Full Enduro Episode 6

Nov 26, 2019
by Pinkbike Originals  



Zoe's back in the Whistler Bike Park and this time she's learning the proper technique for riding steep sections of trail. She teams up with Claire Buchar to learn proper body position, line choice, and braking while tackling some of the bike park's gnarliest sections.

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Filmed & Edited by Will Binamé.

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Whistler Mountain Bike Park

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Member since Feb 15, 2012
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  • 36 4
 I enjoy these vids. Good job everyone involved in this. And she definitely looks faster n smoother.
  • 2 0
 Yeah.. definitey faster smoother and more comfortable.
  • 32 3
 The only reason I watch this series is to see her finally cut down her bars, but I think I will have to wait for season 2.
  • 5 2
 24 missed the disclaimer so far.....
  • 1 0
 @fahrwerk: whoosh
  • 54 34
 Shoving your weight back over the back wheel to 'get more braking traction' is probably the worst thing you could possibly do. You lose front braking traction, you lose the ability for the bike to move under you, and it really limits control. There is no benefit to being in the back seat coming into a steep section like this aside from making you feel less afraid, until you are out of control or stuff a wheel and get flipped off the bike. Your braking power doesn't come from the back brake and in watching the footage, the coach doesn't even do it in the same section, she remains centered! The last thing she needs to be doing is hanging off the back of the bike even further.
  • 26 9
 ^^^ this

Droppers posts are for getting low, and behind contact points, and giving space for bike to move under you, not for locking your arms and slamming weight back.
  • 45 0
 I think what Claire was meaning to say was to only push your hips out slightly while still keeping your core and arms over/towards the front end to keep that weighted as well. Sorry if we didn't make that clear in the edit.
  • 11 1
 I remember getting into biking and that was pretty much it as far as advice went for riding technical section: "GET BACK!"- of course the bikes at the time that advice was most prolific were like loaded 73 degree head angle trebuchets waiting to launch you over the bike. So at the time it may have just been a way to survive crappy bikes! Certainly not the case now with bikes we can ride centered and even to the front a bit. In skiing it's one of the first things a good coach will teach you: if you are moving forward you need weight forward to control the ski. Same thing with bikes! Claire's body position while riding was great and Zoe is looking like she has come a long way in her riding and loosened up a bit. Well played but yeah- totally agree with @shinook here. Rather than slam your body back which both causes you to loose range of motion in your arms (can't go back any further once all the way back and if you get caught out and need to get that tire forward under you might get launched) and loose braking and steering power in that front tire. Lowering your body, widening the elbows, and maintaining a dynamic centered position might go a lot farther- exactly like Claire does when she demonstrates.
  • 18 0
 @jasonlucas: right on, makes sense.

Teaching body position is hard. I think most advanced riders would see what she was saying and fill in the blanks, but what most beginners hear is: "I need to shove my weight as far back as possible". It's really hard to communicate what proper body position looks/feels like, especially in video form.
  • 16 1
 @jasonlucas: I thought she was perfectly clear. She pretty much said what you have reiterated here.
  • 18 0
 at minute 5:25 of the video, she explains the technique perfectly, including the need to keep weight over the front tire.
  • 63 6
 Hey there @shinook . I think you could go back and have another watch. I specifically said, after explaining that you should slide your hips back along the front - back plain of movement, "don't just throw yourself in the back seat". I would never recommend just "shoving your weight over the back wheel" as you said. That is dangerous! I think another thing to keep in mind is that these videos are also not a complete comprehensive lesson. They are cut and edited to create a general idea of the skill or combined skills needed to tackle certain terrain scenarios. I would suggest to viewers to take away some positive tips and perhaps get a proper coaching session if you'd like to develop your personal riding skills further. Cheers!
  • 11 9
 @klarko: PB commenters think they are good and know what's up...Claire would smoke you.
  • 8 13
flag shinook (Nov 26, 2019 at 12:16) (Below Threshold)
 @klarko: Thanks for the clarification, that makes sense. It's hard to communicate these things in video. Attempting to distill a several hour coaching session into a 12ish minute video is surely going to leave some details out and it's a delicate balance between something people want to watch vs a 3 hour video of coaching.

That said, I walked away with a predominate feeling of the video encouraging her to put her weight back like I described. We hear this advice on the internet all the time and, as you mentioned, it's dangerous. While you did mention not throwing yourself in the back seat once, the video doesn't really clearly detail what the difference is or what the proper position looks like, she also continues to hang off the back of the bike (or appear to, anyway).

I'm not necessarily being critical of you as a coach or even of the editing, I just felt it was worth highlighting what I thought was a predominate theme in how it all came together and the dangers of it. We hear that advice on the internet and from amateur coaches very frequently, I felt the same is what was communicated here and wanted to highlight the dangers of it. As I'm sure you see all the time, it's a very common mistake that even experienced riders fall victim to.
  • 2 0
 100% accurate you need to be neutral and high on approach so you have room to move back and down.
  • 11 4
 @shinook: Imagine if instead of explaining to Claire what Claire said, you listened, then listened again, as you can go back and watch it. And then, ask clarifying questions if it still isn't clear to you. Instead you explained to Claire, again, what Claire said and how it was wrong. You had Claire's attention and you couldn't be bothered to listen or ask a question, you just kept talking.
  • 6 3
 @adanielle: saying something and successfully communicating it are two different things. I wasn’t there, so I don’t know where the breakdown happened, but I can promise you some new rider is going to watch this and get the wrong idea.

My comment was aimed at preventing people from watching this and thinking that hanging off the back of the bike on steeps was a good idea and good practice, because that was the impression I walked away with watching the footage. Yes she briefly mentioned staying centered and not shoving her weight back, yet she also twice said to shift her hips back to drive weight to the rear wheel and her technique most of the video appears to be shoving her weight aft, exactly what I described.

After her response, I’m more inclined to think it has to do with editing and the message getting lost in translation. I have no doubt she is a great coach and rider, but somewhere in this video the message became a bit more fumbled. If you don’t believe me, ask a new rider to watch it and imitate their technique, see what they end up doing.

And no, I wasn’t “explaining to Claire what Claire said”, I was explaining my interpretation of the content as a whole and the impression I walked away with.
  • 1 0
 @adanielle: as Friedrich Nietzsche once beautifully quoted, "if you stare into the abyss, the abyss will stare unto you"
  • 3 0
 learned this the hard way this season when i buzzed my nuts a couple times. was hanging off the back of the bike through a steep section and suspension compressed.
  • 2 0
 Totally. And it's hard to gage someone you just met and haven't watched a ton. Especially someone on a different bike, with different setup and what not. Add into the mix varying body dimensions and ... it takes more than a few hours for sure. Kudos to these trainers
  • 20 1
 Claire is an absolute boss on the bike. One of the smoothest and most graceful riders out there! Zoe could not have been surrounded by a more competent crew of coaches!
  • 16 4
 I think we are all enjoying this series as it highlights how many female shredders there are. Unfortunately none of them seem to be addressing the main issue for Zoe (the wide bars are accentuating it) which is elbows straight out, flat back and arse off the rear, it's possibly the most unnatural riding position I have ever seen. Every week I see the pros looking relaxed and poised ready to adapt their bodies to the features ahead of them on the trail which is why they are so good. If only they could get Zoe to replicate this she would advance so much faster.
  • 4 9
flag mxdoc (Nov 26, 2019 at 14:57) (Below Threshold)
 lol, somebody always has to be 'that guy'.
  • 7 0
 Definitely looking faster and more confident! Keep up the good work. Everyone has to start somewhere, and while pushing yourself back over the rear of the bike might 'feel safer' you compromise traction and breaking power on the front end. Maybe instead of focusing on getting the weight back, think dropping the heals and keeping good bike-body separation with chin over the stem.

Also, would be good to see more shots of the trail/sections they are sessioning so viewers can appreciate each scenario and situation more.

Really enjoying the series, the missus even more so, keep it up!
  • 9 0
 I don't know if this is just me, but I still see her awkward position going down the hill. She needs to loosen up a bit and let the bike jockey underneath her.
  • 3 0
 She can't because her bars are too wide. That's a big part of the problem. That and she comes from XC, so she isn't used to the capability of full sus and what it can do for the rider.
  • 8 0
 Another great video from a couple skilled ladies. Claire was a coach as a Summer Gravity Camp I attended in Whistler 10+ years ago. She's amazing to say the least.
  • 12 2
  • 2 0
 had to scroll waaaaaay to far down for this.
  • 6 0
 Those wide bars are making her so tense. She's not able to move her arms to absorb and press into the terrain like Claire can. She doesn't have any room to move the bike around under her without almost locking her arms out. But hey, she likes wide bars.
  • 2 0
 Exactly. One of the most important skills in MTB is "bike/body separation"! If your bars are too wide, you can't lean the bike away from you, so you have poor bike/body separation!! I wish one of these coaches would tell the poor girl that....
  • 3 0
 @mybaben: I’m sure they’ve gotten the message about the bars by now, but I don’t think anyone realizes that they probably already filmed all of the episodes ahead of time and are releasing them one at a time. Hasn’t Whistler Bike Park been closed for the season for a while now?

Can’t exactly go back in time to swap to narrower bars and it’s not something you can really fix in post, so we’ll have to live with it for the rest of Season 1 and see if they address it in the future!
  • 1 0
 @ridebikesyall: That's an excellent point. Good observation. If there is a Season 2, hopefully it will come up, for Zoe's sake.
  • 9 1
 Claire is one of the few people you wouldn't feel nervous seeing them in an open face in Garbo zone and Canadian
  • 6 0
 Cut the bars to lose the funky stink bug style. Disclaimer: yeah I saw the disclaimer at the start of the video, doesn’t make it right.
  • 4 1
 The video doesn't do justice to how steep those sections are. Drop In Clinic if you look from the top will scare the shit out of you if you saw it the first time.

@shinook is right. You don't jam your back all the way to the rear otherwise you lose control. Been there, done that and I have the scars to prove it. :-)
  • 16 0
 Yes, videos never give the terrain justice do they. These are pretty advanced lines and Zoe killed it. And yeah, if I rode steeps by simply "shoving my weight over the rear wheel", I would have had a pretty short career!
  • 2 0
 @klarko: 20 years ago we pretty much get advice from friends who rode mtb ahead of us and most of them are bad advice. Tutorials were virtually non-existent. The tutorial back then was "You crash, you learn, you don't do that position again".

These new coaching videos are very helpful!
  • 5 0
 Its funny cause Whistler doesn't have any actual steep trails, just steep features, French Connection kinda counts
  • 2 0
 Canadian Open is pretty steep down low once you go into the woods from under Fitz...
  • 4 0
 Plenty of stuff outside of the park; Hey Bud, Crazy Train, Jaws to new name a few plus other off the map stuff.
  • 5 0
 Give Tresspasser a shot. Lemme know how she goes...
  • 1 0
 French and Tech are my two favs Wink
  • 1 0
 @Golden-G: That tricky bit with the rope to assist the descent, yeah... Phew!
  • 2 0
 @Golden-G: haha I did and it wasnt so pretty, when I say Whis I meant inbounds bike park
  • 1 0
 @J-Gordon: I knew what you meant. The bike park can not have super gnar. People would get broken more so than they already do!
  • 7 0
 @Golden-G: Fun fact- riders get hurt astronomically more on the jump trails and the fast smooth trails than they do on the steep/scary/technical trails.
  • 3 0
 Goats Gully is pretty steep
  • 1 0
 @TEAM-ROBOT: you are indeed correct. Super steep trails are not particularly sustainable erosion wise either...
  • 1 0
 @Golden-G: it has super gnar, Marty Master is nasty ass
  • 4 0
 position is so exaggerated
  • 2 0
 Nothing so humbling as while discussing line options and pucker factors, having a grom coming wheeling through likes it's no big deal.
  • 6 4
 If there is compression or tension on hands and wrists your body position needs adjustment
  • 1 0
 thanks for the tip
  • 3 0
 why is this getting downvoted?
this is a problem with mtnbikers... they'll sit around discussing bike geometry and how it suits them, but then ignore everything else. it's simple as f@ck - if you're feeling uncomfortable and creating tension and pain in the body, adjust your riding position. this can come from your body, or the equipment you use. you could shorten/lengthen your stem, ride wider/narrower bars, etc...
  • 1 2
 I'm enjoying this series. However, quality coaching seems to be making some double black components that are typically out of my bush league a little more reachable... Also, I hate punk kids cleaning double black components that are typically out of my bush league.
  • 1 0
 I saw Zoe up at 19th that day coming up, it was nasty wet weather. should be entertaining Wink
  • 1 0
  • 1 1
 Claire a dope bike
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