Skill Practice Jam - Canmore, AB - Q&A with Ryan

What the heck is a practice jam?! On June 3rd, 2018, I'll be offering one in Canmore, AB, and here's a short interview where I share the philosophy behind it. 

How does the Practice Jam differ from a Skills Clinic?

In this new jam format you choose what you want to practice based on your skill level and goals and my coaching will be personalized based on where you’re needing assistance or are stuck. A standard skill clinic typically moves everyone through the same drill sequence. The only group coaching I’ll be doing at the jam will be centered around the philosophy of practice and progression. The social aspect is a fun addition - usually a clinic is coach to student, but in a jam format I’m encouraging student to student interaction for sharing tips, guidance and encouragement.

Will we be going on a trail ride?

No trail riding as that usually takes a lot of time with a low amount of coaching opportunity whereas it’s amazing how much practice, progression and focus can be had with flat ground and a few simple props. As a long time pro rider I can still get a good practice and workout in with no trail, stunts or challenges - just put me on a bike, anywhere, and I’m good to go!  

I am not good at Yoga.  Can I still participate?

Everyone can participate in the Yoga segment. Jeff will be teaching simple movements to help with recovery and to ward off injury. If you need a yoga mat, no problem, we have those too!

What defines an experienced/intermediate level rider?

This is always a very subjective question based on where you ride, what you ride, and who you ride with. As long as you have some experience as a mountain biker and aren’t a complete beginner, you’ll be able to benefit from this practice jam, in fact that’s one of the cool things about this format, we can have a beginner and advanced rider together in the same space both benefiting in their own unique ways.

Will the Mental Fitness Conversation be a Q&A or will Ryan be speaking about a specific related topic?

I’ll be offering a few very tricky tropics related to our sport, such as risk and ego, and then open it up to a Q&A style format so it becomes more of a conversation. If we run out of time, I’m planning to continue the conversation more casually over beers at another venue!

I cannot bunny hop.  Can I still participate?

Absolutely, most riders CAN’T bunny hop actually, and that may be a great skill to focus on for the jam!

I’m not totally sure what a “high jump bar” is.  Will I have to jump it?

Good question! It’s an adjustable bar that goes from a couple inches high to 4’ feet high, it’s a great prop for practicing your bunny hops if that’s what you’re interested in. There will also be some platforms and cones available for getting creative with. I’ll provide some ideas at the beginning, and once everyone starts playing on their bikes you’ll quickly be overwhelmed with the number of things you could be practicing even without any props.

Will I need to provide tips to fellow Riders?  What if I don’t feel qualified enough to do so?

It’s totally up to you! You can observe others and gain ideas and inspiration, and if you notice someone who could benefit from your experience, then you’re invited to offer it up. I’ll set up some etiquette around this topic when the jam begins, but the idea is for some friendly, social and constructive interaction, though you may choose to go off to the side and practice on your own, but as the head coach I will still find you and provide some personalized advice.

Will Ryan be the only coach?

I’ll be the head coach, and will spend individual time with every rider throughout the jam, however I have also invited some local Canmore coaches to join the event, I’ll be introducing them at the beginning, so you know when you’re receiving advice from another qualified coach verses tips from another participant. The coaches however will also be doing some of their own practice too!

What type of bike should I bring?

Whatever bike you ride and love the most. However, I would avoid bringing a downhill bike! This clinic is suited best for all-mountain and trail style bikes. Hardtails are also useful for skills practices if you have one and are comfortable with it, but make sure it has front and rear brakes and a good array of gears (some street or dirt jump style hard tails don’t have a front brake and only heavy gearing).

What pedals and shoes are best?

Flat pedal are much safer and generally more beneficial for skill development, however you can ride with whatever you have and are most comfortable with. If you do choose clipless, I’ll ask you not to practice wheelies or manuals unless you’re already confident you won’t flip over backwards!  If you’re using flat pedals, make sure they have good pins and that you’re using a flat pedal specific shoe with a flat sticky rubber sole, for example shoes by Five-ten, Shimano, Giro, etc).


The Canmore Skills Practice Jam runs from 12:30 to 4:30 on June 3rd. Click here for event details and registration.

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