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Over the past 14 years, we’ve coached & taught hundreds, maybe thousands, of folks on how to ride their mountain bike better. But we continue to see the alarming trend of riders picking up hindering habits & techniques due to friends giving tips or a mountain bike coach that didn’t fully grasp the concepts. It’s a lot harder to unlearn something versus starting with a good foundation. The easiest way to make sure you push your mountain biking skills to the next level is by finding the best mountain bike coach out there. Here’s 6 things to look for in a mountain bike coach that most people don’t even consider.

#1 Certification

Things to look for in a mountain bike coachLife isn’t stagnant so continuing education is important to make sure you keep up to date on what’s happening in the industry. The constant evolution of gear & bikes along with new techniques on teaching is key. The Bike Instructor Certification Program (BICP) has three levels of instruction. While the first level is good, Dylan has received the highest Level 3 BICP training… which puts him on a short list across the world! In addition, he continues to expand on his training to include other certifications like USA Cycling, NICA,  BETTERRIDE, NASM-Mental Skills, and much more! School IS cool, especially in mountain biking!

#2 Practice What They Preach

Things to look for in a mountain bike coachIt’s great to have a list of certifications but let’s be honest… experience matters. Or better yet, results matter! You need to find a mountain bike coach that has garnered the results you desire on a consistent basis. For example, someone offering a race prep course but never raced professionally in their life isn’t a good choice. Or, a coach that’s putting on a jump clinic and isn’t into jumping won’t fit the bill. At a minimum, how many hours of actual instructor time do they have under their belt? So, what about Dylan at A Singletrack Mind? Well, he’s mountain biked professionally for over 20 years, has 7,000+ hours of coaching on his resume, AND was the head mountain bike coach for several youth mountain bike teams. As Matt Damon said in Good Will Hunting… “How bout ‘dem apples!”

#3 Reading Testimonials

Things to look for in a mountain bike coachOn paper, the mountain bike coach looks awesome. They have the skills & the experience but are they approachable? If truth be told, in the alternative sports scene there’s a lot of passionate people but they exude a super “bro-bra” vibe that’s off putting. To make sure that you get the most out of the clinic, read through their testimonials to see if they’re welcoming & make you feel comfortable. There’s nothing worse than to spend your hard-earned dollars on a course that leaves you feeling “meh.”

#4 Wilderness First Responder

Things to look for in a mountain bike coach Mt Shasta

Photo credit: Pinkbike

As the old saying goes “Hope for the best but prepare for the worst.” You’re pushing the envelope in improving so sometimes things happen. When a fun outing does become a serious situation, it’s good to know that your instructor is prepared. The definitive wilderness course for leaders in remote areas including outdoor educators, guides, military, professional search and rescue teams, researchers, and those involved in disaster relief is the Wilderness First Responder program.

#5 Class Size

Things to look for in a mountain bike coach Fairfax California Marin CountyResearch has shown class size matters. The concept is simple. The smaller the group, the more attention you’re given by the instructor. Small class size allows an instructor greater proximity to the students and more opportunities for one-on-one & small-group instruction while on the trails. We at A Singletrack Mind do our best to keep the ratio of our classes down to the MAXIMUM of 8 riders per instructor.

#6 Obtain Permits

Things to look for in a mountain bike coachPermits, as the name implies, offer permission for an individual or group to occupy and/or use a specific location for a specific amount of time for a specific purpose. So, why is it important that mountain bike coaches get a permit? Well, the application process helps the US Forest Service & other organizations like state park system understand who is using their lands, how they’re using them, and when they’re using them. This allows them to better manage these places for the enjoyment of all. When bike clinics don’t get a permit, we’re all losing in the end.

If you’re feeling stuck, confused, and unsure of your next steps on how to bring your mountain biking to the next level, then a coach is key. If you keep these things in mind when picking a great mountain bike coach, you’ll ride away with more clarity & confidence  — not to mention an action plan for the future. Happy riding & we look forward to seeing you out on the trails!