Night lights for scurrying cats.

I recently picked up the new Piko light from Lupine to illuminate my night rides. It's a diminutive little bugger. I was pretty surprised by its waifs figure. My last light I got from Lupine in 2006, the Wilma, was quite the beast of it's time. The head unit alone weighs as much as the Piko does with a battery.

In 2006 the Wilma had 380 lumens. Over time I upgraded that light to 700 lumens and it was a great light. It has held up for six years and probably has many more left.

Recently I wanted to upgrade again and when I got in touch with the distributer at Gretna Bikes about getting a smaller battery he pretty much told me I had no choice but to take the Piko. Not one to refuse commands from one of the best light makers in the world I accepted and can't believe what I have in my possession now.

It's light (as in weighs nothing)! And has 900 lumens. That's not a chart topper lumen, but for me it's all I need to ride some trail and have a blast. I think the only reason to go higher than 1000 lumens is only to avoid having a shadow created by the guy with a 2600 lumen light behind me.

Don't let the seasonal effective disorder catch up to you. Get a light and go ride!


MeetUp Skills clinics

So I've been organizing skills rides on the website MeetUp. It's been a way to start introducing people to skills. Mostly the rides have been casual where we ride and I am sure to give instructions as we go, but we avoid doing official drills and skills like I'd do for a more formal setting.

I've decided to expand on the MeetUps and start adding skills clinics. These have a modest charge of $30 per person and the clinic sizes are limited to 5 people. This keeps it small and manageable. If you are interested in joining and seeing what I can offer come out! There will be one this Saturday at 1:30 in the Belmont Plateau and next Saturday at the same time.

There is also a free ride session next Saturday the 8th at 9:30am in the Wissahickon. This one will concentrate on log hopping and cornering.

Come join us!


New things to play with!

I just got a Cardo Bluetooth communications system to play with. It will allow two way communications with clients so I can give instant clear feedback as we ride and do skills. It's for one on one interaction so no groups yet, but the possibilities are exciting!
I'll be in your ear like all coaches should be!


Taking it to Michaux!

TakeAim Cycling is going to be a coach at Fast Forward Racing's Michaux Mountain Bike Camp.
The line-up of instructors is going to great.
Checkout the schedule and see if it's something for you!



Drain the face! Get slack-jawed!

Here is a little technique I like to use to help myself relax on the bike. Often when we're riding or even just living, we don't realize the little muscle engagements that are going on.

A perfect example are the muscles in your face. As we stress under hard loads, or squint into the sun for to long you may not realize that that squinting, or that slight grimace actually uses extra muscles. Those muscles aren't actually doing any work for you so engaging them means your body is working more than it needs too. The goal is to put all your energy into the work that needs to be done. Letting a little energy disappear though unproductive muscles is like leaving a window cracked open in the winter when trying to heat the house. At the risk of exposing my true identity these two pictures show what I mean..

Next time you are working hard on the bike for an extended amount of time remember to try and let the stress drain out of your face. That means relaxing the muscles around your forehead, eyes, cheeks, and mouth. I sometimes like to use my hand as a cue to do this by wiping from the widow's peak down. You can help relieve stress on the face by wearing those shades too. They're not just for safety. Reducing glare and eye stress helps the body stay relaxed... 

Also, relaxing the jaw and letting it slack a little can improve breathing by removing constriction from the airway. 

Try this and let me know your experience! 


TAC racers at Iron Hill!

Congrats to Nathalie and Jesse on their spectacular rides in some sloppy conditions. Even though the rain held off the course was still wet and sloppy. The mud was sticky and energy tapping while the wet made every corner and rock an opportunity to use some body english to hold a line.

Since I've been back I've given a few lessons and am currently in the middle of a two day clinic with the Whiskey Springs Junior MTB Team. A rider who took a lesson last week sent me this very nice email soon after our first session. Dan has been riding for years...

"I went for my first ride since the lesson today (round the Wiss) and so it was my first opportunity to put into practice the different points we covered. I noticed a significant difference in how confident and relaxed I felt, not just on the downhill sections but generally. Pretty cool.

The adjustment to my tire pressure also made a noticeable difference, allowing me to get up rocky sections with less slipping of the back tire than usual, and, not sure if it was my imagination but I felt more stable when cornering in what were fairly slippery conditions."

That kind of feedback makes me feel great teaching skills to people.


Two Day's of Sessions!

The past couple days have been great! I had two new clients that really saw some areas for improvement and we made some good progress in that direction.

I just want to point out a quick exercise for understanding handlebar control and what finger to brake with. This was demonstrated to me in class at Endless Biking!

1. Stand on your non-drive side and hold the grips with 4 fingers and a thumb, then pull up on the bars a couple times toward your chest.
2. Now do it without your index finger a couple times.
3. Then try it without just your middle finger.
4. How about without your index or your middle finger around the bars?

Most people will find that the index finger braking gives them more handlebar control than middle finger braking. And if you are two finger braking you really need to make the switch to one finger!

Which finger do you brake with?


Officially North Shore Trained

Exciting news for Take Aim Cycling! I spent the last 10 days in North Vancouver taking classes from Darren Butler at Endless Biking. What kind of classes?..Coaching classes! You might think that just because I have a ton of riding experience and coaching as well, I'd be fine doing what I do. Well, I'll say that there is nothing like getting educated by someone who has been doing it as long and as well as Darren.
I'll elaborate later, but now I have  a  client I have to meet. Just know, that I invested in me so I can invest in you!


Why is their a "G" in diaphragm?

I was out with a client this week and he was looking for some help on climbing trail. Before we met, I asked him what his specific concerns were and his response was about how he gets tired and stalls out.

His description was pretty vague and left me worrying about how I would approach this problem. Add to the fact that here was a person on a budget and he worried about return on investment. Of course I want to be sure I can offer a quality product and his worry kind of had me a little nervous about being able to provide something tangible. Plus he could only afford an hour. Talk about a challenge!

I'm happy to say I feel like we made great progress within that hour! What we ended up working on were a few important techniques that many people don't think about, which will improve their riding and performance immensely.

1. After talking more extensively about the issues, it became apparent that the real issue was planning for the upcoming climbs. Specifically choosing a good gear going into the climb and shifting in a controlled, gradual manner that allowed him to find a good rhythm.

As you come into a climb it's important to anticipate gear choice, otherwise you'll find yourself trying to shift too many gears at once or suddenly trying to push a gear that is too big. The second scenario leads to stalling out on the steep climbs. If you're in too easy of a gear going too fast into a steep climb you loose balance and control.

You can practice good technique by approaching a steep hill at different speeds and effort levels then trying to match the effort you were putting out on the flats to the one going up the hill. The important distinction is to match effort levels, not speed. This might mean you feel like you are going very slow at first, but the goal is to have greater awareness of pedal feel and the balance you gain by having just the right amount of pressure on the pedals.

When it comes to shifting, think of it as the opposite of when you are transitioning to the the flats from a climb. As you come over the top, you don't generally dump a lot of gears and sprint. As you pick up speed, you start shifting one gear at a time as you go faster to match a comfortable cadence. Now reverse that when going up a hill. As you slow down you shift up one gear at a time. The initial "prediction" shift might be a couple gears, but the remaining shifting is best done one at a time. If you shift to too easy of a gear, click down one at a time while soft pedaling at a comfortable cadence until the gear catches up to your feet. It's always easier to click down while soft pedaling then shifting up while under load.

Practice this for a week and you'll notice you're finding the right gear more often and climbing smoother than ever.

2. One of the other important elements we worked on was breathing and pace. Specifically keeping the diaphragm from being closed off. I can demonstrate to you right now how this works. Try to touch your chin to your belly button. Of course you can't do this, but it demonstrates that as you arch your back you close off your diaphragm and make breathing more difficult. A lot of time, when people are on the bike they have an arch in their bike. Your mother would tell you this is bad posture when standing in church, and I assure you it's bad posture on the bike.

If you bend more from the hips, keep your chin pointing forward and let the shoulders relax, it will be easier to breath when riding your bike up big climbs. You can still get a low center of gravity without reducing the oxygen to your body!

Those are just a couple of the things we were able to improve in the hour that we had together. Over-all I felt very good about the session, as did my client.

Originally when he was a little unsure about the value of an hour lesson (I'm cheaper than most), I realized the best argument for investing in a lesson was that unlike buying a new lighter bike part, a lesson doesn't wear out. It only gets better with use. It's worth being more comfortable and happier on the bike, which leaders to better performance.

I still don't know why there is a "G" in diaphragm.


Delayed Reactions

Lately as I've been taking more and more people out for lessons I've been getting responses about how what we went over is kicking in a couple days later.
I got this message after having a session with a local bike shop employee.

"I want to thank you so much for the training session. It really wasn't a good day for personal log-related bravery - which is a huge and frustrating obstacle for me right now - BUT!!!! I went to Fair Hill yesterday and all your tips and tricks about handling and cornering really really came into play and I felt like everything in that realm suddenly made so much more sense! That was a great day on a bike! I feel like I am walking on air."

I'm the one who is walking on air after hearing things like that.  Her experience, highlights the fact that sometimes it may not feel like you are getting something that someone is trying to explain but chances are high that it will make sense later. 

I don't mind if there is a delayed reaction to what I teach. When your body is used to doing one thing, asking it to change patterns might seem hard to do. If it feels right when you get it then keep trying. This is where practice comes in! Always go out soon after a lesson and practice what we went over! You're fun meter will thank you later!


I guess it's getting real official.. Business cards, a company kit, and Wilderness First Aid Training!
Expect to see some major site changes and actual updates soon!