Posts Tagged ‘Chris Ball’
August 13th, 2010
The biggest names in mountain biking reveal the secrets of their success in a new MTB skills book out next week. Mountain Biking The Manual is a skills and technique guide drawing insight from over a dozen of the world’s best mountain bikers, including world champions Steve Peat, Greg Minnaar and Gee Atherton.
The book has been written by professional MTB coach Chris Ball, a former Scottish champion, who competed in over 30 world cup events. The Edinburgh-born 28 year old owns and runs Dirt School, a dedicated training school for mountain bikers, and also works with the UCI as technical delegate for Word Cup downhill and 4X events.
Chris’s work on the World Cup circuit has given him access to an inspiring pool of contributors and their insight on what it takes to make it at the highest level. The result is a book which can inspire developing riders and give recreational mountain bikers skills and tips to try out on their next rides.
Steve Peat, regarded by many within the MTB world as a living legend, gave his endorsement by writing the foreword to the book.
Peat said, “From the first timer on a mountain bike to a fully-fledged racing snake, there is knowledge here for all. The Manual will show you the fundamentals, the in-between bits and the moves to make your family proud of you. You will all be better riders for it.”
Editor Huw Williams believes that hearing the lessons from the mouths of the professionals sets Mountain Biking The Manual apart from others. Williams said, “Chris Ball has drawn together an amazing team of top riders. It’s their insight, their enthusiasm to teach, and their generosity to share their hard-earned knowledge that gives the book its edge. But this is not simply a collection of quotes hung together with pretty pictures. It’s a good, strong read in its own right. The lessons here are delivered through the clear, intelligent voice of one of the best coaches in the business.”
We agree! Mountain Biking The Manual is available now and here’s our little launch video:
August 6th, 2010
As a former UCI World Cup competitor Chris Ball knows all about the cutting edge of downhill racing. As well as coaching the Scottish national downhill team, Chris runs his own MTB tuition company Dirt School. He has drawn on his knowledge of the sport and contacts with leading riders to author a new MTB skills and technique guide: Mountain Biking: The Manual
How did writing the book come about?
It was 2008 and I was standing in the rain under a tree next to a dirt jump when Wavefinder phoned me up and asked me to do it as part of their manual series. I’d been working in the industry for a while and developed a lot of training programs up in Scotland. I also work closely with the UCI (Union Cycliste Internationale, mountain biking’s governing body) so I think it was a combination of things which got me the job.
This was your first attempt at writing a book. Did enjoy it?
I did actually, yeah. I holed myself way in the Scottish borders at a desk for six weeks. I learnt a lot and it was great to see it all come together.
Before you started coaching you were also a world-class racer. What made you stop racing and start coaching?
I was competing for a long time and then continued racing alongside studying for a degree in sports science and then fell into coaching really. I got a knee injury and it sidelined me so then I started working with Ruaridh Cunningham. He went on to be junior world champion and I went from there.
Is there a part of you that wishes you were lining up at the start line rather than watching or coaching from the sides?
With the coaching I get a different thing out of it. I get enjoyment from seeing the guys I work with do well, so it’s different. I’m not competing, but I don’t feel the need to compete anymore. I’m still heavily involved in the sport.
What does your role as a technical delegate with the UCI involve?
I’m like a liaison between the event organisers and the UCI – I make sure the tracks run well for the riders at all the World Cup events and also use my technical expertise to make sure that the course is safe.
This must give you great access to the riders – that must have been incredibly useful when writing the book?
Yeah, it’s a big help. Obviously I know all the guys, I’m working trackside with them when they are competing. Being able to go back stage and behind the scenes and see how the guys warm up and what they need before they race gives me a very thorough understanding – much deeper than what you would receive from working in the media and the restraints they have on them. I’ve also coached guys at the highest level and that gives me an all round understanding of the sport which offered a great insight when it came to writing the manual.
There are sections in the book on nutrition and psychology. How important are these factors to a modern rider?
I think a lot of normal riders could learn a lot of really basic things to make their riding more enjoyable. There’s a lot of knowledge out there – some of which I picked up during my sport and exercise degree – which is involved in cross country, and is starting to come into downhill. These are techniques which are already being used in rugbv and most major sports. Really simple things like psychology, nutrition, making sure you eat the right amount of the right food. The basic riders don’t have to be measuring amounts of food and drink like the top riders and it’s not meant to be an academic text book, but I tried to write the book to get the message across that the basic rider who’s just out and about can get a really good overview of the things they should be doing health wise to increase the level of their riding.
What would you say you enjoy the most: riding, coaching or your role with the UCI?
I really like being outside and active. I like having an active role in trying to develop the sport and seeing it change and instigating and facilitating change within mountain biking is what I enjoy the most. Whether that’s an athlete going faster, or making them happier riders or more comfortable – that’s what I enjoy the most.
Over 20,000 spectators watched the recent UCI event at Fort William. Would you say that mountain biking is more popular than ever?
Yeah, I’m always amazed at how popular it’s getting. Every week at the different events there’s a larger range of people: guys with there sons, wives and mums. It’s a wide ranging sport with a range of abilities and backgrounds. One guy said to me that he loves it because it’s the only sport he can do with his son and I think that sums it up why it is increasingly popular.
Your history and expertise is in downhill racing but all types of mountain biking are featured in the book. Do you have a favourite trick?
Not so much. I really enjoy making things flow. I love the feeling of effortless riding – that’s the most enjoyable part for me. Something I always try and teach people to do is carry the speed and flow through the route.
Have you got a top tip for somebody who’s a complete novice?
Read the book!
Some the photos in the manual are quite breathtaking particularly the images of the back flips. Can you do a back flip on a bike?
(Laughs) No, I’m afraid I can’t! I had to rely quite heavily on the guys who can. To be honest, if you want to do a back flip you’re going to try and do one whether or not you’ve read the book. I’m not sure a book can teach you the bravery needed! I want the book to be inspirational so people could look at that stuff and maybe if they’re only using the manual to find out tips on what energy bars to eat or how to go round a corner properly but at least they are getting a bit of an insight into what the guys at the top do. The book gives people an insight into how to pull off the amazing tricks which people see on the internet and then at least they can look them up in the manual, understand the moves a bit more, and then maybe give them a go once they’ve got some more confidence in their ability.
Mountain Biking the Manual is published by Wavefinder and is available now.
July 23rd, 2010
All the top MTB downhill riders are in Champery, Switzerland this weekend for the latest round of the UCI World Cup. Back in 2007 this was the scene of Sam Hill’s epic run in the wet. Here’s how Chris Ball describes it in an excerpt from his new MTB skills book:
“It looks like the finals of the 2007 World Cup in Champery will be on dry trails in mountain sunshine. Mid afternoon rolls in and all hell breaks loose. Torrential rain and storms smash into the mountain and the course goes from tough but dry to a near impossible river-cut run down the sheer mountainside. That day, the young Australian Sam Hill rode as though it was dry. His attack mode found grip where there shouldn’t have been any and he placed a time that beat most of the guys who’d come down in the dry. That moment changed many people’s perspectives on what can actually be done with a modern mountain bike. A lot of the younger guys, riding similar set-ups to Hill, suddenly found out just how far it can be pushed.”
Hill is currently 4th in the UCI rankings closely followed by current World & British National Champion Steve Peat. Greg Minnaar is leading the way and will be looking to stretch his lead from 2nd placed Gee Atherton.
Here’s a look at the course from Thursday practice from the guys at Dirt TV: