How do you know if you’re cornering properly? Or how do take that drop or that small jump safely? Are you self-taught like most mountain bikers? BMX and MTB champ Leigh Donovan thinks there is a better way. That’s why she has a skills camp for women and offers individual instruction for men as well. She’s even offered up a few of her videos available for free and we’ve embedded them here in this story. Check them out and take the next step by taking a skills camp. It is the only sure way to maximize your safety, fun and shredding potential.
In this video, Leigh shows us body position and balance on a bike.
Q&A with Leigh Donovan
Tell us about yourself and your coaching background.
Leigh Donovan: I fell in love with bikes in 1983 when my friend Brad taught me how to bunny hop the curb in front of my house. I started racing BMX after that and when I turned 20 I fell in love with Mountain bikes. I’ve always loved learning and teaching over the years. When I retired in 2001 I started focusing more on coaching, but that wasn’t the right time for me as I was pretty burned out on bikes…however, as it turns out that was a good thing, because it introduced me to beginner riders and the questions they’d have when riding trails I thought were SUPER easy. That peaked my interest on how could I help give riders feel more comfortable and confident while mountain biking. My coaching is focused on helping riders that don’t know what to do, helping them focus on what to do, rather than riding in fear.
Why coaching? Aren’t most good mountain bikers self-taught?
LD: Most sports have technical coaches (at every level), from baseball, to golf, to tennis, to swimming…so why not mountain biking? Sure, we can do a lot to teach ourselves but with proper instruction we avoid creating bad habits that can be avoided with just a little coaching. I personally learned how to ride from watching Brian Lopes, John Tomac and Dave Cullinan, even just the other day Brian taught me how to rail this corner I was sucking in…I don’t care what level you are, the right coaching will make you better!
Leigh shows us how to do front wheel lifts in this video.
Why women only? Is there a difference between how many and women learn or take instruction?
LD: After 30 years of riding and racing bikes I’ve learned that men and women do learn differently. My business is focused on women because I’d like to see a better balance in the bike industry and I believe women only clinics will help us eventually have a better balance across the board…however, I do work with men often in the private arena, so while I’ve focused my camps on “women only” I still do coach plenty of men.
What are some of your revelations while coaching?
LD: Over the years I’ve learned that people do not move around on the bike, and most don’t even move their arms and the legs at the same time, so basically riders are more like statues on a bike…which is why many tip over and sometimes break…on the other side, I’ve learned not to judge a book by it’s cover, don’t assume someone can ride something because they are on a killer bike, and never encourage a rider to ride something when they are scared!