Michael Hanslip Coaching

If you want to go faster, you have to pedal harder

The Potential Pitfalls of YouTube Skills

This entry comes out of a conversation I had at work recently. We were discussing how you can get so much contradictory advice from different YouTube presenters on any skill you care to investigate. That can be anything, but in this case we were discussing jumping a mountain bike.
Some presenters offer partial advice, which might seem in conflict with other partial advice - when the reality is they might both be offering advice with limited utility. To put it another way, they can both be right and seemingly in conflict. My favourite example of conflicting advice comes from the very professional and "they should know better" people at GMBN (Global Mountain Bike Network). There are several videos where the advice offered is to "make sure you get back sufficiently" and then in the demonstration they remain nicely centred on their bike throughout. I've not been able to figure out if they feel like they are moving back relative to their usual position, or if they believe they move back when they don't (and you shouldn't!). As former pro cyclists and obviously more-than-competent riders they know better than to get so far back that they unweight their front wheel and lose steering control, yet there are numerous videos where they offer this advice. I just don't get it.
Back to jumping. One guy (I think he is The Loam Ranger) offers "stand up to the jump" which is advice that is really good, if you can follow it. What does that mean? First it means don't let the jump push you around and make you into a passenger. Always be the driver, never be the passenger. Second it also means literally, stand up when you jump. Pushing down through your feet is the single most essential part of jumping and it naturally leads one to be standing up straight in mid jump. How do you "stand up to the jump"? By standing up when you jump. The hard part of this advice is how do you follow it if you can't follow it? He gives some examples of standing up and not standing up, but not a lot of advice for fixing problems preventing you from standing up straight.
Lee McCormack (
leelikesbikes - author and YouTube guy as well as in-person teacher to many pros) is so invested in his rowing methodology that he developed and sells a device called the RipRow that not only teaches you to hip hinge properly, but strengthens the move through adjustable resistance while doing it. (It is a set of handlebars on a vertical bar hinged to a base plate that you stand on and connected by a hydraulic strut that resists your push and pull motions - if that makes no sense then look it up for video.) For me, all the years of working with PMBI and doing jumps trails finally worked much better (no one would accuse me of being an amazing jumper, but at least now I can do most of the ones I ride on at trail speed without fear) when I tried Lee's rowing motion. It allowed me to coordinate everything I was doing with better timing for the lip of the jump, regardless of jump size or slope. So thanks Lee. But that rowing analogy doesn't work for everyone.
Some people talk about bunnyhopping off the face of the jump, and certainly that is what some people do - particularly to get extra height - but accentuating a bunnyhop involves moving hips backwards to get more pop and I'd heavily discourage anyone from trying this out on a jump face until first they are really good at jumping and bunnyhopping separately. It is a recipe for making it onto Friday Fails (a
Pinkbike recurring video of people crashing).

The short of it is, be very wary of whose advice you pick on YouTube because there are no credentials to be a presenter there. All you need is a camera and an opinion. At least with an in-real-life teacher you can form an opinion of their teaching skills as you work with them. The good ones will make your riding easier, flowier and more confident very quickly.