The Importance of Positive Self Talk in Mountain Biking.

I think Henry Ford said it best “Whether you think you can, or think you can’t.  You’re right.”.

self-talkSelf talk has a positive or negative effect on your cycling performance and your ability to handle technical aspects of a trail or race course.

If you roll up to every obstacle on the trail and think, “Holy $&@# — I’m gonna crash,”  guess what? You’re probably going to crash.  Replacing these negative statements with positive self talk can go a long way for helping you take your riding (and training) to the next level.

I’m not proposing that you should go launch off a 20’ drop with a “I’m gonna land this thing perfect.” statement unless, of course, you’ve had the training and progressions required to prepare you for that drop. **Positive self talk is not a replacement for skills training; it allows you to use your skill set effectively. **

It is also a way to allow you to have more success and avoid self sabotage, or self fulfilling prophecies.  If you believe in yourself (really, really believe), and trust the training and experience you’ve obtained to prepare you for this moment in your ride, you’ll have much better odds at success.

Here are some other tips to help you get the best results when dealing with technical aspects of a trail.

1. Get in your ready position.  Head up, knees out, off the saddle, etc.  Feel strong, breath deep, look fierce.    This will have a dramatic influence on your ability to handle the task at hand.

2. Use positive self talk. Get passionate about it, say it like you mean it!  Saying things like, “I’m ready for this”, “I can handle this” sends messages to your brain and body to get your ready for success.

3. Visualize yourself doing the skills successfully.  Before hitting that jump, get off your bike and look at the jump. Visualize your take off, time the air and smooth landing.  Once you’ve got it in your head, go for it!

4. Think back to time when you had previous success with the same or similar skill.  Embrace the feelings of success you felt in the past.   Allow the feelings associated with your previous success to prepare you for the task or obstacle your about to tackle.

a1fd6-self-talkReplacing, “I can’t” with “I’ve got this” does a lot for your confidence.  When things get stressful, replace “F this, I hate my mountain bike” with “Relax, breathe, ready position, let it roll.”.

Positive self-talk isn’t just effective with technical aspects of the trail, it can also have a great effect on fitness performance. A recent study showed that positive self-talk can reduce time taken to complete a 10km time trial.

This study is nicely summarized here by Yann Le Meur.

Another study showed that positive self-talk can increase time to exhaustion, summarized again by Yann Le Meur here.

Rate of perceived exertion (RPE, how hard you think you’re working) is important in endurance sports. Reducing it through positive self-talk is a great way to improve performance. Swapping in a few phrases such as “I’m killing it today” “I feel powerful” and “My legs feel great” at key moments can be an easy way to add a more miles or and/or more watts.

Here’s a great example form Ian Sharman, winner of the 2013 Leadville Trail 100 Mile Run and holder of the fastest 100-mile trail time in the U.S. (12 hours, 44 minutes):

“If someone is on my heels or just ahead, then I keep repeating in my head, ‘Just keep pushing.’ It stops me from easing off even a little bit so that if I slow or if the terrain gets easier, I kick it up a notch. Having someone close in a race like that is the biggest motivator for me near the end of a race like Western States.”

“When I feel exhausted and there’s still so far to go, I remind myself that this is what all the hard training is for–to be able to close out races and not fade. I repeat to myself that this is where the memories will be made and that I can either look back on it and know I gave up or look back and know I gave it everything.”

I often use the statement, “Bike is ready, I’m ready”.  Other famous positive self talk statements you may have heard from accomplished athletes are “Be brave!” and “Shut up legs!”.  Before your next ride, sit down and think about 10 or so positive statements you can incorporate in your self-talk.   If you have one you really like, perhaps print it out and stick it to your handle bars, or write it on your hand before your event!

2014-07-08 03.29.10 pmYou know that feeling when you score a really good deal on something? The good ole I-bargained-that-price-down-to-half-its-MSRP?  Or the I-found-the-last-one-in-the-sale-bin feeling?  You get all giddy from the excitement because it feels like you won something. And who doesn’t like winning?  Well, get warmed up to do your best happy dance because we have a really good deal for you …

For a limited time, Ninja Mountain Bike Skills is offering a package deal for our coveted One-on-One sessions: when you buy 3, you get one free!  That’s a $150 savings!  To put that in perspective, that’s about 60 Double-Doubles at In-n-Out, 15 two-liter growlers at Stone Brewery, or 5 all-day passes to the bike park at Snow Summit. Woah.

limitedtimeoffer-greenIn addition to the cash money savings, this package deal will also give you the peace of mind knowing that you have 4 sessions on lockdown with one of our amazing instructors. This eliminates the anxiety of trying to cover everything in one session and allows for building skill level as appropriate rather than as time dictates. If you want more frequent and intensive instruction you can schedule them on consecutive days, or if you just want some tune-ups, you can schedule them once a week or even once a month.  You have 6 months to use your sessions, so how you schedule them is all up to you!

Click here to purchase your one-on-one session package — we’ll be in touch with you right after you purchase is complete to get you first session on the schedule …

leadville_trail_100_mtb_logo The Leadville 100 is known as a “fire road” course that even includes some paved sections. Sure, it may be at 10,000 feet, but it doesn’t sound too technical, right? It’s not like the twisty single track of BC or Bend, so pre-rides aren’t really necessary, right? Wrong. Like, SO WRONG.

Whether it’s your first time at Leadville and your goal is just to finish, or it’s your third time and you’re trying to get the big buckle, pre-riding and strategy planning are necessary.  On those fire road climbs and descents, there are good lines—and bad— and when your legs are wobbly like Jell-o from riding for 7+ hours and your lungs are burning up from the altitude, you’ll be glad you know where they are. Also, having your fueling, hydration, and pacing strategies all planned out will allow you to focus on your most important  task of race day: keeping those pedals moving.

IMG_3308_2So, how do you do this? Well, this is where I come in. I’m like a LT 100 tutor: you can either ask me to help you with a specific thing, or you can ask me to help you with it all. I plan of being out at Leadville by July 29, and will be available for pre-rides, race strategies discussions, fueling and hydration planning, where to put your support tent, what your support crew should be doing, where on-course congestion is and how to deal with it, and more.

For pricing information and to get on the schedule, contact Coach Richard here.

jumping_2Are you ready to take your mountain biking to the the next level, literally?

Learn the fundamentals of jumping your mountain bike in a safe setting with pro rider / mountain bike coach Coach Richard La China.

Class is limited to 10 riders and will take you through a series of progressions that will have you flying high in just a couple hours.

We’ll start with basic wheel lifts, flat hops, bunny hops, tail whips and work our way up to weighting and un-weighting over a jump, practice on small gap jumps, jumps in succession and landing on descents, flat and more.  (All training is done in a controlled grass area on manufactured ramps).

Goal: To have you successfully clear a 4-5 foot gap jump (approximately 2 feet in the air) and land safely and predictably.


  • Thursday evening, 5:30pm on August 20. SOLD OUT
  • Thursday evening, 5:30pm on September 3. SOLD OUT
  • Thursday evening, 5:30pm on September 24.

*limited to 10 riders per clinic

Where: The mini-clinic will be held in San Diego at Morley Field in the grass area just north of the tennis courts.   You must register in advance in order to participate.mtb_skills_jump

Cost: $59

Prerequisite:  You must have two years minimum riding experience or have attended any Ninja fundamentals, intermediate/advanced skills clinic or a mountain bike skills camp in the last year in order to attend this mini-clinic.

What to Bring: Your mountain bike, helmet, full finger gloves, and knee/elbow pads (if you have them).


Gift Certificates are now available for all Mountain Bike Skills Courses and Camps. This truly life changing gift will be greatly appreciated by the recipient and is the perfect choice for birthdays, holidays, or any other gift-giving occasion!

Order your Gift Cards today..


on Square Market

There are a few techniques you can use to go faster on your mountain bike that won’t have you out busting your butt on intervals or hard workouts. Although those would help, too! Using just what you have now–your bike, your mind, and your body—you can unlock secret speed when you’re out riding with your friends, or even on a race course. Here are some tips from these three areas of focus to help you get going.

8084354755_c0ebce209e_z Your Bike
Of course, a working bike is a must. Make sure you don’t get stalled shifting by keeping your drive train clean. Keep your bearings all running smooth and eliminate friction wherever you can. Double check you’re not wasting energy on suspension that hasn’t been set up for you, or on a dragging brake.

Your Mind
A dragging brake due to misalignment is one thing, but it’s another to drag it voluntarily using “confidence braking.” Your mental game is important when it comes to going fast on a bike. When we get nervous, our brains instinctively reach for the brake. But do you really need it? Try calling out “brake” every time you touch it to see just how often you’re pulling the lever. If you don’t need it, don’t touch it. Conversely, a focused mind that doesn’t get distracted is less likely to make mistakes, and better equipped to help you stay on the gas.   Visualize what you need to do and then execute.

405206986_ab551973d0Positive self talk is also a key component to riding smother and faster. Self-limiting statements like “I can’t handle this!” or “This is impossible!” are particularly damaging because they increase your stress in a given situation and they stop you from searching for solutions. The next time you find yourself thinking something that limits the possibilities of a given situation, turn it into a question. Doesn’t “How can I handle this?” or “How is this possible?” sound more hopeful and open up your imagination to new possibilities?

Your Body
Confidence braking slows you down of course, but it also wears you down. If you are over braking, or braking unnecessarily, to get back up to speed you need to throw down some watts. Instead, go easy on your body by carrying speed whenever you can. If there’s an option to go around or over something, sometimes braking to steer is more costly to your energy than simply lifting your front wheel over it. In turns, proper bike-body separation can help you whip through a high speed corner. And at the top of your body are your eyes—looking far down the trail with your head up will help you ride smoother, and faster.

mb001To sum all of this up, you could just remember “Smooth is Fast.” A smooth-running bike is a fast bike. A smooth flow through the trails—aided of course by your zen-like mental state—will take less time than both rushing and dawdling. And if you ride smoothy, your body will likely stay on top of the bike and out of the bushes. If you’re not sure about a section, sometimes the smoothest and fastest way is to get off and run, and try it again next time.

Fire Road 100 Course Pre-view | Cedar City, UtahEndurance races seem to take on an almost mythical appeal. They become larger than life, something people dream about doing and place on their bucket list.

Fire Road 100 Course Pre-view | Cedar City, UtahFor triathletes, it’s Ironman events. For runners, it’s Ultras like Badwater. And for mountain bikers, its the Leadville Race Series with events like the Fire Road 100k in Cedar City, Utah.

These events are incredibly fun and rewarding, but they are grueling, and not even veterans takes them lightly: in addition to their regular training, they do an in-depth review of the course, make sure their nutrition is planned out, and make sure their bike set-up is dialed.

HomeSlider_4If you’re one of the endorphin junkies that’s signed up for Fire Road, but find yourself suddenly feeling like there is so much to do and so little time, fear not! This is where we come in….

Ninja Mountain Bike Skills is excited to announce that we’re going to Cedar City! The week of the event we are offering a 2-day camp that includes only the essentials you’ll need to conquer this race. Instead of finishing a traditional camp feeling exhausted and overwhelmed, you’ll leave this one excited, empowered, and still have your legs feeling fresh. We consider this camp to be “Fire Road: The ‘Cliff’s Notes’ Version”, and we’ll prepare you to rock that test, er,… we mean… race!

Fire Road 100 Course Pre-view | Cedar City, UtahCoach Richard, a Cat 1 XC racer, IMBA Certified Skills Instructor, USAC Coach, AND a Gold Buckle winner from Fire Road 100 in 2013 and 2014, is like Cliff—he has done all the hard work and research for you (by the way, did you know there really was a Cliff?). He’s taken all of the wisdom accumulated throughout his long racing career, as well as insights from his skills and coaching certifications, combined that with his knowledge of the course, organized it, condensed it, and voila! You have Fire Road: The Cliff’s Notes Version.

The camp includes a mini seminar with important topics like a course breakdown, hydration, nutrition, etc, followed by some skill work needed specifically for fire road racing, and will wrap up with targeted pre-rides of the most important sections of the course. Don’t worry, SAG will be provided for us to get around so you can save your legs for the race.

Fire Road 100 Course Pre-view | Cedar City, UtahWith only about 4-5 hours of camp time per day, it leaves you with plenty of time to do whatever else you need to do on a race week/ race-cation. Elevate your legs. Take a dip in the hotel pool. Grab some grub with the fam. Watch a movie…. Cedar City is your oyster!

Camp Schedule and Details:
(Day 1) Tuesday, June 23:
– 7:30am – Camp check in
– 8:00am- 9:30am – Mini seminar (Course breakdown, hydration, nutrition, bike set-up, what to expect with altitude and heat)
– 10:00am – 11:00am – Mini skill session (Ready position, bike-body separation, cornering)
– 11:00am – 1:00pm – Targeted pre-rides on first part of course

(Day 2) Wednesday, June 24:
– 7:30am – Regroup
– 8:00am – 12:30pm – Targeted pre-rides on rest of course

Payment Info / Cost: $199

Mini seminar
Skills training
SAG support
PowerBar nutrition and hydration during pre-rides

Recap of how our 2014 camp went HERE.

Secure your spot today here





While lodging is not included in the cost of the camp, the organizers of Fire Road have negotiated a pretty sweet deal with Best Western Town & Country, which happens to be within walking distance of the start/finish line, restaurants, and coffee. There is a discounted rate for camp particpants. Contact the hotel directly and ask for their “Fire Road Rate.” Toll free: (800) 493.0062

richard_singletrackIt’s time to increase your mountain bike confidence!

Our next Mountain Bike Camp is just around the corner and we are getting a TON of questions about these three-day adventures. We figure that if some of you have questions, then all (ok, at least most) of you have questions. So, to answer them, we’ve put together this handy-dandy, easy-to-read guide, which starts with listing all of our camp locations for 2015. Read on to find enlightenment!

Mountain Bike Camp Locations

What To Expect At Mountain Bike Camp

The camps are designed for the enthusiast rider or avid racer that is looking to build up and clean up their “toolbox” of mountain bike skills in order to handle a variety of terrain at speed.

We blend an in-depth version of our traditional Intermediate – Advanced skills training with coached riding sessions and several mini-seminars on hot topics like nutrition, altitude acclimatization, and the perfect bike set-up.

After camp, you will see an immediate improvement in your riding and will have a boost in confidence on technical trails. You will be able to tackle rougher terrain and trickier corners with greater control and flow through single track, switchbacks, and berms with far more speed and efficiency.

You can think of our camps as an awesome opportunity for what we like to call a “traincation”a fun-filled vacation in which you get to spend most of your time doing what you like to do most, ride your mtb.  You can find the detailed camp schedule here.

What’s Included

  • Ninja Mountain Bike Skills Jersey (when you sign up before 04/30/15)
  • Swag Bag
  • Discount at Host Bike Shop
  • Lift Tickets (Big Bear and Park City)
  • Skills Training
  • Mini-Seminars (Nutrition, Acclimatization, Bike Setup/Fit)
  • Lunch Provided for All 3 days
  • Post-Camp Snacks on Saturday Evening

Skills Covered

Who’s Teaching?

Richard La China (Big Bear, Bend, Fruita, Park City)

  • Professional XC Endurance Racer
  • IMBA Certified Skills Coach (Level II)
  • USAC Certified Cycling Coach

Aaron Lucy (Big Bear, Fruita)

  • Expert Downhill Racer
  • IMBA Certified Skills Instructor

Kris Gross | Pro Rider (Big Bear, Park City, Bend)

  • IMBA Certified Skills Instructor
  • USAC Certified Cycling Coach

Regina Jefferies (Big Bear, Park City, Sedona)

  • Expert DH/Enduro Racer
  • IMBA Certified Skills Instructor
  • National DH Championship Winner 2014

Rachel Throop | Pro Rider (Big Bear)

  • 2014 4th Overall NAET
  • 2014 2nd Kamikaze Games Mammoth – Enduro
  • 2014 5th BME Keystone, CO
  • 2006 3rd Pan American Games
  • 2006 Junior Expert XC National Champion


Off-The-Bike At Mountain Bike Camp

After camp each day you can enjoy all the scenery, shopping, and dining that your destination has to offer. Our camp locations are known as prime real estate not only for their awesome mountain bike trails, but also for their leisure activities. Any non-mountain bikers accompanying you for the long weekend will have more than enough to do to keep them happy and busy.  Learn more about our camp locations here.


How Much Do Camps Cost?

Camps range in price according to location and prices increase the closer you get to the camp date.  It’s always best to sign up sooner than later to ensure you get a spot before the clinics fills at the lowest possible price.  Check the complete camp schedule and prices here.

Where To Stay?

While lodging is not included in the cost of the camp there are plenty of affordable hotels near our camps that can be booked for the weekend.   Inquire with us for information about the host hotel for each location.

Here’s What People Are Saying About Us …

Best. Investment. Ever. Ninja Mountain Bike Skills will definitely bring up your riding level a notch or two. Being able to get instant feedback from the instructor (s) in this case Richard La China and his assistant is invaluable. From getting the correct riding position to improving the skills necessary to have a fast flow through the trails builds confidence and is the key to having more fun when mountain bike riding. Also I’ve taken one-on-one lessons (with Richard La China) and it really speeds up the learning (in my case it was basic jumping) in any area where you deem to be weak in or just need improvement. ~ Thad G.  



powerbar_logoPowerBar is our official camp nutrition sponsor.  Nutrition provided to camp participants includes PowerBar Gel, Energy Blasts Chews and more.


Stephane Roch | Pro Rider, Team Ninja

The wheelie is really a useful riding skill, particularly for getting over trail obstacles, as well as a great way to practice balance and bike control. But maybe even more importantly than that (for all the attention-seekers out there) it looks cool. Wanna be YouTube-famous?  You gotta learn to do a wheelie.

This skill is often confused with the Manual which is similar in the fact that the front wheel is in the air in both skills. The primary difference is that in a wheelie the front end stays up from pedaling, and in a manual it stays up from just shifting your weight back.  Also, a manual is a standing maneuver and a wheelie done is seated.

Ok, so know you know what it is — here’s how to do it:

1. Lower your saddle, you’ll need to be seated for this skill and the lower your saddle, the lower your center of mass will be and the more stable you’ll be.

2. Select an easy gear, but not the easiest gear.  Usually 2 or 3 from the easiest is a good place to start.  Begin your wheelie at about 5–10 mph.  Using a gear that’s too easy will result in too fast of a cadence which will result in you loosing your wheelie because of excessive pedaling.

wheelie33. If you have rear suspension on your mountain bike, lock it out.  A bouncing rear shock will negatively effect your balance.

4. While keeping your head up and looking forward, lower your torso and crouch down over the handlebars to prepare to initiate the wheelie.

5. With your most powerful foot at the top of the pedal stroke, simultaneously pull up on the handlebars while pedaling down hard.  You’ll have to start with a hard, steady pedal stoke to get the wheel up.  Once it’s up, keep pedaling, but not quite as forcefully.

6. Quickly lean your weight back and allow your arms to straighten as the front wheel comes up.

7. Keep pedaling and keep a finger over the rear brake lever.  If the bike comes up too far, you can tap the brake to bring it back down.

8. Continue to feather your rear brake as needed in order to prevent the bike from flipping over backwards. (Some people drag their rear brake the entire time, just to have some resistance to pedal against.)

wheelie19. Mange the balance of the bike.  If the front starts coming down, lean back more.  If the bike leans right, stick your knee out, or turn the bars to regain balance.   Make these corrections as soon as needed, if you wait to long, your balance will be unrecoverable.

10. Make sure the front wheel is straight as you bring the front wheel back down to the ground.


Absa Cape Epic 2014 Stage 3 Robertson to Greyton1. It’s easier to learn this skill with flat pedals vs. clipped in.

2. The wheelie is never really perfectly balanced, you need to constantly add balance corrections to keep the bike in the wheelie and going in the direction you are intending.

3. It’s easier to learn this skill on a slight slope, preferable on grass.

4. Practice dismounting off the back of the bike so you know what to do in the event you go over backwards.

This is another one of those skill where you’ve got to put the time in in order to really master it.  Keep at it and over time, you’ll see your hang-time increase to the point where you can wheelie across, over down and up anything you choose.

Have fun!

landis_cyclery_arizona_mountain_bike_skillsWe’re heading back for another taste of the region’s distinct singletrack. Join us we partner with local shop Landis Cyclery to offer skills clinics at every level.

We’ll be riding at the famous Papago Park — home to beautiful sandstone buttes and listed on the National Register of Historic Places. This venue has features that make it perfect for practicing skills, and you’ll have plenty of photo opportunities too.

Join us and learn to Ride Like a Ninja. You’ll soon conquer your fears on the drops and switchbacks, unlock free speed in the corners and boogie up any climb the trail throws at you. We’ll teach you how to brake effectively, how to perfect your footwork and demonstrate just how much your body position can affect your ride.

Following your clinic, you will see an immediate improvement in your riding and a boost in confidence. You’ll understand how changes in your body position, footwork and where you are looking affect the way your bike behaves. You’ll be able to tackle steeper terrain, corner with control and negotiate trail obstacles with ease. And Landis Cyclery will be ready to help with any mechanical support, accessories, parts or anything else you may need for your mountain bike.

A bike rider at Papago Park, Phoenix, Arizona. (model released)Here’s what you need to know:

  • Clinics will be held on January 31 and February 1, 2015
  • We’ll be meeting at
    • Papago Park
    • 625 Galvin Bikeway,
    • Phoenix, AZ 85008
  • Clinics range from $149 to $289 (depending on which class and how soon your register)
  • Registration is open now!

We’re also going to be doing our Saturday Night Social at Landis Cyclery!  It’s free, very educationing and a ton of fun.  Snacks and drinks provided by Landis Cyclery.  Find out all about it here.

Click HERE to register for this or any other upcoming clinic, or to find out more. The crews at Landis Cyclery and Ninja Mountain Bike Skills can’t wait to see you there!