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.

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 …


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!

At the beginning of every Ninja Mountain Bike Skills clinic, we talk about ways to improve your riding by improving the positioning and adjustment of your shifters, brakes, suspension, saddle and more.   To really dial in your cockpit, with your rider specific settings, can easily require more time then is available during the clinics.

JRA Bike and Brew with Ninja Mountain Bike SkillsThat’s why we’re excited to announce that for our upcoming clinic weekend in Arizona, we’re adding a Saturday night social at Landis Cyclery. Join us after class (or evening before class if you’re taking a Sunday clinic) for some yummy refreshments and we’ll educate you as to where your brake levers should be for the best reach and control, how to set up your shifters optimally, how set your your suspension correctly for your riding style and weight and other important fit components to make sure everything is running smoothly so that all you have to do is Ride Like A Ninja.

brake-setup2This is a free event for everyone that participates in one of our clinics.  It’s a great chance to get really comfortable in your cockpit but also to meet other riders from your area, check out these amazing local shops and swap some stories from the trail.

We’d love to see you there!

PS – if you have a friend or family member you think might also benefit from some cockpit tune-age, bring them by.  Food, drinks and socializing are free for everyone.

 Phoenix Clinics – Hosted by Landis Cyclery

Where: Landis Cyclery (2180 E Southern Ave, AZ 85282)
When: January 31, 2015 at 6:00pm
Cost:  FREE for clinic participants

white_jersey_2015Our ‘Official’ 2015 Ninja Mountain Bike Skills jersey is now in stock!

We worked with Zoca to create a super sweet and super comfy jersey for all your trail needs. The white background, airy cut, and 3/4 length zipper will keep you cool as you explore a new trail or throw down the hammer on a group ride. And, most importantly, you’ll look good doing it! The front of the jersey has a watermarked “Ninja Guy” that makes it look clean and stealthy, and the back of the jersey showcases our favorite sponsors while reminding everyone to “Ride Like A Ninja.”

You can get one of these gems for free when you sign up for any of our Mountain Bike Camps or purchase one (or more) in our online store.

Slope_Saviour-92The manual is a useful skill for lofting  your front wheel over an obstacle. (Yes, lofting as opposed to lifting. See “Note” below.)    Once you know how to manual you will start to see the trail completely differently. You’ll no longer have to ride over small trail obstacles, you’ll be able to effortlessly loft the front end at will and avoid losing momentum. Getting up small ledges will also become much easier as you learn how to use your hips instead of your arms to pick your front end up.

Ride at jogging pace, or a bit faster.  You want to go fast enough to provide momentum, but not so fast that you can not control yourself. Start in neutral position. Then, just before you get to the obstacle, pre-load your front suspension by lowering your center of mass (bending your elbows).  Make sure you have even weight on the pedals (this will results in pedal being level for this skill).

Explode up and back while driving your feet down, pushing the pedals forward and away from you.  Allow your weight to shift back with your arms straight.  Your center of gravity should be right over the rear axle. Make sure to have your legs strait so its easier to stay up.

Note: Shifting your weight back is what brings the front of the bike up (“lofting”), not ‘pulling’ the bars up (“lifting”).  If you just pull the bars up without shifting your weight back, the front will quickly go back down.

Keep a finger over your rear brake at all times.  If at any point in this move you feel you are going to flip off the back of the bike, applying the back brake will bring the front wheel back down.

Once you’ve cleared the obstacle, bring your weight back to the neutral or ready position.  This will bring the front of the bike back down.   Practice this skill by placing a stick on a slight downward (smooth) path and see how long / far you can hold the wheel lift.

After some focused practice on this still you’ll be manually all over the place!


10690234_10152499916792358_7606546168961039480_nThe Ninja Mountain Bike Skills team was thrilled to lead women from the Girlz Gone Riding (GGR) club through a weekend of clinics at Malibu Creek State Park. According to GGR’s website, they’re a “positive, supportive group for all levels of riding,” and after spending a couple days laughing, joking, and smiling with these gals, we couldn’t agree more!

On Saturday, Coach Kris Gross took the lead for our fundamentals session. We enjoyed breakthroughs, teaching moments and “ah-ha” light bulbs while covering skills like the “ready” position, how to corner, and our best tips for how to climb and descend.

On Sunday, Coach Richard led the GGR ladies through a full day of advanced skills including wheel lifts, bunny hops, and switchbacks, as well as a refresher on our fundamentals.

10734178_10152499918227358_773943900824046032_n“I think the more members we have taking clinics, the better it will be for our members’ safety, confidence, and to help them overcome obstacles—whether on the trail, or coming back from an injury,” said Wendy Engelberg, Director of Girlz Gone Riding. “That’s why we’re trying to schedule as many of these opportunities as possible.”

Girlz Gone Riding is a club of female riders (and the occasional male volunteer an supporter) based in the LA area, and now with a chapter in the Inland Empire. They organize group mountain bike rides, special events (like BMX night), skills clinics and the annual riding gala, Rocktober.

Coach Kris and Coach Richard will be back in the LA Area to help Girlz Gone Riding continue to promote fun and safety on the trails with another weekend of skills clinics this February. To find a Ninja Mountain Bike Skills clinic near your, please see our schedule. And to learn more about GGR or join in on their events, please check out their website.

FEB 7 Women’s Basics (8:45am – 12:00pm) Calabasas [GIRLZ GONE RIDING Edition – Morning Session] Los Angeles, CA $149 Special GGR // Register Now!
FEB 7 Women’s Basics (1:00pm – 4:15pm) Calabasas [GIRLZ GONE RIDING Ed. – Afternoon Session] Los Angeles, CA $149 Special GGR // Register Now!
FEB 8 Women’s Intermadiate/ Advanced (8:45am – 4:00pm) Calabasas [GIRLZ GONE RIDING Ed. – Full Day Session] Los Angeles, CA $199 Special GGR // Register Now!