Riding the right way: James Wilson hosts clinic to help individuals improve form, skills

James Wilson leads a pack of riders on a single-track trail at the Lunch Loop trails off Monument Road.

Photo by William Woody —James Wilson, of MTB Strength Training Systems, holds his bike up Friday at the Lunch Loop trails near Monument Road. Wilson focuses on specific exercises that can help mountain bikers improve their approach on the trail. Wilson held a clinic Tuesday to help riders advance their skills.

James Wilson is teaching what he knows and loves.

Wilson hosted an informational clinic Tuesday about improving mountain biking skills at MTB Strength Training Systems, 573 S. Commercial Dr., Suite 5.

“You can learn how to apply your fitness to get better on your bike,” Wilson said. “It’s all geared toward helping riders get fitter and better skilled.”

Wilson owns MTB, but also is the strength and conditioning coach for the Yeti Cycles World Cup team, which includes Aaron Gwin, one of the top-rated American downhill mountain bike racers.

Wilson puts together strength programs for riders like Gwin and is constantly updating his blog, http://www.bikejames.com, with different content regarding mountain biking.

The California native is helping train top riders, but said he really enjoys providing fitness programs for people like himself.

“I like helping the pros, but for me, I just want to go out and ride Lunch Loop and Mary’s Loop and be able to ride it hard and have fun,” Wilson said. ” I designed my programs to help your average trail rider increase their skills and fitness.”

During Tuesday’s clinic, Wilson went over a few areas that riders can work on to help improve their performance on the trail.

Near the top of that list is proper body positioning on the bike.

“There is a basic body position where you have your butt back, your spine straight and you are ready to move,” Wilson said. “A lot of riders can’t flex at the hips properly, so they end up rounding their lower back, and this does two things: it puts extra stress on the low back which leads to pain, and puts them out of balance on the bike.”

After explaining this approach Wilson had the riders try it out. Garrett Guthrie, 15, said he felt a difference immediately.

“I didn’t know how much the standard position and being flexible helps,” said Guthrie, who’s been mountain biking seriously for less than a year. “I noticed when I concentrated on keeping my back straight it felt a lot better.”

The key to successful mountain biking is all in the hips, he said, and there are certain exercises in the gym that will improve a rider’s hip strength.

“The dead lift teaches that hip hinge,” Wilson said. “Something like cornering requires a lot of hip mobility and control, so that’s why a lot of mountain bikers can’t corner and don’t feel confident in corners, because they don’t know how to keep their hips right to keep themselves balanced in the corners.”

Wilson, 34, moved to Fruita after falling in love with the local mountain biking scene. He said his passion for teaching fitness for mountain biking comes from his own experience on the trail.

“I’m a mountain biker and this is what I do, so I’m not a road rider or triathlete, or body builder/personal trainer at the gym,” he said. “I am a mountain biker, so everything I do, I view through that prism. That’s what I like about training and getting better.

“Plus mountain biking is fun. If it feels like work, you’re probably trying too hard.”


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