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Row/Anti-Row : introduction

In the old days, gifted riders somehow “got it” and the rest of us sucked.

When I finally quit my “real” job to pursue this dream, I started writing books and teaching the Light Hands/Heavy Feet approach to riding. Basically, as long as your weight is driving into your feet, you’re safe and your bike works well. This has helped hundreds of thousands of people ride and live better.

For more than 14 years I’ve been gradually working my way toward the Grand Unified Theory of Shred (GUTS). There have been moments of brilliant clarity, but the process has mostly been a slow burn.

As my shoulders deteriorated I’ve had to learn to ride perfectly, and from my core.

As my ideas about bike setup have evolved, I’ve created the RideLogic™ Bike Setup System: a logical, practical way to position handlebars for power and control.

As my study of human movement has deepened, it’s led me to invent the RipRow™ : an off-bike training device that develops endurance, strength, speed, power and, most profoundly, a deep sense of great movement, of perfect integration between bike and body.

For the past few years I’ve been training with various stages of RipRow™ prototypes. I’m learning a lot, and I’m learning fast. The magical things I’ve seen great riders do: They finally make sense. I can see in myself, my skills clients and in pro riders the subtle differences in technique that elevate riders from sucking to being good to being great to being the best.

Pro enduro racer Curtis Keene tests a RipRow™ prototype in his garage gym. He currently has a proto to aid his Enduro World Series training, and he’ll be getting a production unit as soon as it’s ready. “Dude, I need one of these. I’ll pay for it.” 

These movement patterns are simple. I said simple, not easy.

So far, everyone I’ve taught has “gotten it” at some level. You might learn faster or slower, but you can definitely start your journey to ultimate shred. This process has huge benefits including:

  • Riding with true power and engagement.
  • Staying balanced and safe in crazy situations.
  • Being kind to your joints so you ride with less pain and for more decades.
  • Having tons of fun!

So here we go. Right now, right here, I’m going to share with you the secrets of the best riders. Most of them don’t know they ride this way, but that’s OK; it’s not their job to know or teach (that’s my job). If you don’t “get this” naturally, you can learn it. You can practice it. And, some day, you’ll do it by instinct. Around then, riding will feel magical.

The old way was called Light Hands/Heavy Feet. That still works, but now we add the new model:


The limitation of light hands, heavy feet

Light hands/heavy feet has been a fantastic model for riding technique, which is why it’s become gospel for most MTB instructors. Basically:

  • Your bike is designed to be ridden with your weight on your feet.
  • As long as your weight is on your feet, you cannot be thrown over the handlebars, and your front tire is unlikely to catastrophically wash out.
  • When you’re balanced on your feet, you have the ability to control your bike and do cool things.

Here’s one of my classic attack position infographics, taken from some other MTB coach’s website. Funny: In a class today, I’d correct at least three things.

Light hands/heavy feet works. But there are limitations:

  • In this model, you are a mass that’s above your bike.
  • You control your balance using your arms.
  • This is a somewhat reactive method of balance. You hit a bump, you make the adjustment.
  • This works well for beginning through expert riders. But as your riding gets even faster and more aggressive, you start to feel like you’re not connected to the bike.

That’s because you’re not connected to the bike! You might be balanced on top of it, but you’re not locked inside it.

Next: Make your bike match your body