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Mastering Mountain Bike Skills Paperback – February 16, 2005

4.6 out of 5 stars 263 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

”Brian Lopes skills are on the highest level in all the different disciplines and niches of the mountain biking world, whether it's 4 X, downhill, or cross country. Everybody can learn something from him to improve skills and techniques—even I have!"

Hans Rey
Extreme biking pioneer
1999 Mountain Bike Hall of Fame inductee

“I have been racing against and riding with Brian Lopes for many years, and I can't think of anyone better to learn mountain bike skills from. He is the most competitive and well-calculated racer in the pack. You will definitely get faster doing what he says.”

Steve Peat
2004 World Cup champion
British mountain bike legend

About the Author

Brian Lopes has been a prevailing force on the professional mountain biking scene for more than a decade and is now recognized as the winningest professional mountain bike racer in the United States. He has earned nine National Off-Road Bicycle Association (NORBA) Championships, five World Cup Championships, and four World Championships.

Lopes started riding at age 4 and graduated to pro status at 17. Since then, he has dominated BMX, downhill, dual slalom, dual, and most recently bikercross racing. He is the most successful active racer on the NORBA circuit, regardless of discipline, and has held world records in bunny hopping and distance jumping. Lopes has appeared on the Outdoor Life Network, has graced the covers of every major mountain biking magazine, including Bike, Dirt, Bicycling, VeloNews, and Mountain Biking, and has received coverage in such mainstream media as Men's Health, Rolling Stone, and USA Today.

Featured in numerous riding videos, Lopes even has a signature tire—the Maxxis Brian Lopes Bling Bling Dual. He also stars in the mountain bike video game Downhill Domination for PlayStation. Other career highlights include being nominated as ESPYs Extreme Athlete of the Year and serving as a stunt rider for the USA Network show Pacific Blue.

Lopes resides in Laguna Beach, California, with his wife, Paula.

Lee McCormack is an experienced journalist who has written for Bike, Mountain Bike Action, Twentysix, Flow, and Mountain Biking. He also publishes www.leelikesbikes.com, a mountain biking Web site frequented by thousands of readers worldwide.

McCormack has won numerous writing and informational graphics awards at the state and regional levels and was part of the team that won the 1998 Pulitzer Prize for public service. He enjoys all riding disciplines from singletrack to road to dirt jumps. McCormack has been an expert-level downhill and slalom racer for several years, and his riding has dramatically improved since working with Lopes on this book. In 2004 McCormack won several major events and finished the year ranked No. 1 among expert downhillers within his age class. He is now positioned to turn semipro in 2005.

McCormack lives in Boulder, Colorado, with his wife, Tracy.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 216 pages
  • Publisher: Human Kinetics; 1 edition (February 16, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0736056246
  • ISBN-13: 978-0736056243
  • Product Dimensions: 8.5 x 0.5 x 11 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (263 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #558,447 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Randy Spotts on September 29, 2005
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I'm going on 53 and got my first mountain bike 1 year ago. After a rude introduction to single track, I decided to try and learn some skills. This book looked like a good source of info, so I ordered it. My first impression was that I'll never risk most of the moves shown by the pros in the book. It's definitely geared toward all-out riding. But I went back to the book and got more selective with the chapters. I then realized that all the basics are there. Not only are the techniques shown, but there's great explanations of why they work. It's almost like having a video. So what first looked like an intimidating how-to manual, now seems more like Pandorra's Box. I look forward to practicing whenever I can spare the time, then getting out and enjoying some terrain. The deer trails above my home have taken on new meaning.
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Bicycle training includes physical, psychological, and skills training. Although riders often ignore the latter, without skills training mountain bikers limit their potential enjoyment and development as competent cyclists.

This is one of the best books ever published on acquiring mountain biking skills, a book whose principles broadly apply to other forms of bicycling, including road cycling.

The book is well-organized and the topics flow well. The book begins with general bike set-up and pedaling, transitions to braking, cornering, hopping, dropping, and jumping, and puts the basics together in chapters about flowing, crazy (miscellaneous) conditions, and racing.

The book has more than 100 color photos and diagrams, which overall illustrate its points well. Diagrams, such as those on pages 64, 66, and 67 depicting zero, negative, and positive camber help the reader learn the meaning of familiar yet uncertain terms. Time-sequence photography, such as images on pages 106 and 107 illustrating the difference in jumping techniques of a dirt-jumper and cross-country racer are superb.

The book attempts to detail principles for beginners and experts alike, and overall does a great job.

As excellent as the book is, it could be improved.

A glossary would help. Authors and editors often forget that not everyone knows the meaning of the jargon words-such as rail and carve. Even if explained at first usage, a glossary of mountain biking terms would improve the book.

The language is hip, sometimes crude. Although attractive to many who practice downhill mountain biking, the lingo might not appeal to all.
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Learning anything proceeds along a continuum. Starting from where one isn't even aware how much one doesn't know, (unconscious incompetence), the first step is to become aware of just how much one doesn't know. This would be the stage of conscious incompetence. As one gains knowlege and practices a set of skills, they are in the phase of conscious competence. Elite atheletes, like Brian Lopes in mountain biking, have reached the stage of unconscious competence. They no longer even have to think about it, they "just do it." Lopes started riding at 4 years old, and turned pro at 17. Rising from the ranks of BMX, Brian has been successful in a vast range of off road biking activities. Not only has he been successful at many of the biking disciplines, he holds world records in bunny hopping and distance jumping, and he is even the star of a mountain bike video game "Downhill Domination" for PlayStation.

The problem is, people at Brian Lopes' level of unconscious competence are not necessarily any longer the best teachers for us mere mortals. The years of developing skills, motor memory, reflexes, and balance, mean folks at this level are no longer even aware of all that goes into their amazing performance. They aren't even necessarily able to say how they do certain things.

Enter Lee McCormack, a man who has been explaining things and writing about bicycling for years. Despite some pretty impressive biking acheivements of his own, he is still close enough to his conscious competence to break down and write about the basics and specific skills that go into excellent biking performance.

Mastering Mountain Bike Skills describes itself as for anyone who wants to ride better, faster, or more confidently.
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I think this is a great book for a visual perspective.

Things that are hard to describe in words are often given good visual treatment. I especially liked it when they showed multiple frames to illustrate a technique that might have changes across time.

For example, they illustrate performing a jump by showing you various frames including hen the rider enters the jump (showing body position, etc), while he's in the jump, and what he looks like when exiting.

This alone puts this book above others I have read on the same topic.

I also liked the treatment of many different topics. There's a really good cross-section of useful information covered, so it seems like just about anyone in the sport would benefit from the content.

There are a couple of things that I think need to be improved on to make this book better.

First and foremost, the book either needs to dispense with all the flowery, colorful jargon, and stick closer to simple English, or it needs to provide a glossary up front.

I am a beginning rider (supposedly one of the people this book is aimed at) and there were many times I did not understand a section perfectly clearly because of the specialized language they used.

Here's an example, taken from early on in the book:

"Pump backsides. Any time the trail turns downward, press down for some free speed".

That probably makes perfect sense to someone who understands these terms, but it did not help be as a beginner.

What does "pump" mean? Does it mean to "pedal hard"? Does it mean to quickly raise and then lower your body on the bike to "pump it"? And how about "press down" - press down on what? The pedals? The handlebars? The saddle?
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