September 2004: As the current US national Cat 1 downhill mountain bike champion, I was racing the perfect run at the masters downhill worlds. It was exquisite! I heard I was on a winning pace, went too fast, hit a tree and — tick tock — finnished up 8th. Pretty good! But I felt like an imposter, and my lack of confidence made me lose flow. That’s been bugging me since.
[Here’s where the montage shows two decades of trials and triumphs. Two failed marriages. Two failed shoulders. Make myself into a mountain bike guru. Write 11 books. Coach thousands of riders. Personal problems almost destroy me. I fix my soul, get my shoulders replaced, and rise like a mountain bike phoenix from the ashy loam.]
May 2024: I’m going back to masters downhill worlds! This time I know I belong there. When I hear I’m on pace to win I’ll be like, “Of course I am.” I will prepare for the win I know I’m capable of, but it’s no longer me against the rest of the world. It’s me with the world — with the entire mountain bike community. Oh yeah, and this will be one year after my second shoulder replacement; the surgeon said I would never ride again.
This is a story of purpose and passion and pain and rebirth and love and joy. And shredding bikes too. Oh yeah, we shall shred!
I appreciate you supporting this journey by being a member of this site.
What will your support pay for?
Your support will help pay for my training, equipment and travel, as well as filming, editing and posting.
In addition to racing, I’m writing the book “Joyride: A Nerd’s Guide to a Joyful Life.” This book uses mountain biking as the great teacher.
What do you get?
A warm feeling. You are supporting a beautiful mission that will inform and inspire thousands of riders including you.
An amazing story. Follow as I dial in my equipment and train my body and mind for the biggest race of my life.
The best riding season of your life. Right now I’m nervous about riding fast on gnarly terrain (like many of you are). I’ll be showing you how I train and practice. If you follow along and do the same build I do, your riding will improve dramatically.
Joyride the film
Human Productions in Boulder is planning to tell this story as a documentary film. This will be amazing! If you or your company wants to sponsor the film, please email me at [email protected] and I’ll send you the tasty details.
More about what I will be sharing
See how I use the Pump Up the Base protocols to build solid base fitness, then I slide into the Prepare to Pin It program for peak racing fitness.
Join me for my RipRow workouts. I’ll be building overall strength and riding skills, plus RipRowing to POV footage of the course. By the time I get to Cairns I’ll have raced the track dozens of times at the same effort level. Oh and yes: You can join me for group Zoom workouts.
Marvel as I pack massive slabs of meat onto my new shoulders. Ha! I need to get these shoulders as strong as I can, so there will be lifting and bandwork — but not in the traditional ways. Join me!
Coming off the dual shoulder replacements, I’m pain free and getting stronger. But things are different now. Not only are my arms almost three inches longer than stock, but I’m afraid of impacts and mistakes. If I take a big crash, that’s it. No more arm.
I’m going to start over from the base up, just like I do with my students. Yeah, the master teacher is now his own student. Over the coming months I’ll be taking myself through the same skills progressions I take my hardcore riders through. Follow along and I’ll teach you what I’m teaching myself. We can expect:
- Body position and the hinge continuum.
- Extremely emphatic, heavy braking.
- Pumping. This is the biggie. I’m already pretty darn good, but I need to be even more powerful and rounder in my movements. I will lead you all the way to the ultimate level of pumping skill and, as we know, pumping forms the base for every handling skill there is. If you can do what I’m showing you, you will be in elite territory.
- Next-level cornering. Both berms and flat turns with a huge emphasis on pumping everything. Few riders can out-corner me, and I will make sure I take full advantage of that fact.
- Jumping. Technique wise it’s just pumping without the top of the roller, but I have to admit I’m a bit afraid now. The course will have jumps. I need to regain confidence one step at a time, just like I teach my students, and you will be there with me.
- Natural gnar. Rocks, roots and such. This scares me more than anything else right now. I think it’s because of the white hot pain that used to shoot through me every time I hit a square edged bump. and the times my shoulders just turned off and sent me over the bars. First, I will get so good at pumping, hopping and jumping that everything I do is round and easy on my body. Second, we will session rocks over and over and over on the DH bike to regain confidence and speed. Back in the day I had KOMs on local rock gnar. Let’s see how fast we can get!
- Sprinting during the run. I am a gifted sprinter. We will practice pedaling out of turns and between other features. This is one major difference between riding and racing. We will pick up every millisecond we can.
- Race pacing. I haven’t raced real downhill in 20 years. I need to find my pace again, which will require a delicate mix of pedaling power, pumping intensity and general aggression. BRAAAP!
When I was a young broken bro trying to make myself feel semil OK by winning races, it was me against the world. Every other racer threatened my wins, which threatened my very OKness as a person.
Now that I’ve earned my first level black belt in being a man, it’s me with the world. The other racers and I are doing the same thing: riding bikes and having fun in a rad place. This is a beautiful thing we get to do!
Thanks to significant life challenges and a dedication to the craft of teaching, I’ve learned a ton about how minds work, and I’ve developed simple ways to help my students master their minds and have real fun (fun leads directly to wins). I will be using these techniques on myself, and you can join me. This will have a huge impact on your life — both on and off the bike.
What is my biggest challenge in all of this?
It’s my ego.
I know what it feels like to need a win, and to do everything it takes to win — ruining my body, reinforcing dysfunctions and detonating relationships. We’re not doing that any more.
I also know how not to care, like when I race long XC events; I know I won’t win, so it’s easy just to be out there. In contrast, downhill is my event. I was national Cat 1 champion and a solid semipro racer when I decided it was time to teach. I know I’m capable of a win. I can be the World Champion! Just imagine. Wow. I want this. I deserve this.
But: I will not do anything to harm myself physically or mentally. No matter what happens, I will ride with transcendent flow and joy.
This is the trickiest part: To go there to win, to commit to the win, and also be happy no matter what happens. That right there is a useful skill.
This race is a part of my life path as a rider, teacher and human.
E is my best friend and life partner. We are doing this together. She will be feeding me, driving the shuttle truck, kicking my ass on training runs, and making sure I get adequate rest. I will show you a way to realize your athletic dreams not despite your primary relationship, but because of it. Guys: It turns out your success in sport is built on your success in your primary relationships. It doesn’t hurt that she’s an elite bodyworker!
I’ve been dreaming about this for years, before I knew exactly what it was. I’ve seen myself racing a huge event in some unique way. I’ve seen myself after a Worlds run, safe and joyful, with people congratulating me. I see E across the crowd, blow her a kiss, run over there, embrace her in tears and say “We did it! It is done.”
What exactly did we do? What exactly is done?
Let’s find out together!