Mad March Racing

Mountain Biking UK Magazine 'Ride Like A Pro' with Shaums March and Danny Hart

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Thursday, September 15, 2011

Cite: Mountain Biking UK Magazine
Words: Pete Drew Pics: Steve Behr

Printout: Page 1, Page 2, Page 3, Page 4, Page 5, Page 6

Ride Like A PRO

Shaums & Danny Hart Mountain Biking UK - Page 1

What is it that gives pro riders their edge?

We arrange for 14-year-old pocket rocket Danny Hart to be coached by seasoned Pro Shaums March to try to discover the X factorů

Shaums & Danny Hart Mountain Biking UK - Page 2

Tutor: Shaums March

Age: 32
Weight: 14 Stone 4lb
Height: 6ft

Career highlights: 06 DH Masters World Champ, fastest American at the O4 World Champs, fourth Red Bull Rampage, third Red Bull Bike Battle, winning a NORBA race in 98, father of Isaac and Asia March.

Goals for 2007: "Find and coach two new National Champs and one or two World Cup riders"

Riding style: "All - l love street and downhill but when l feel like S#*f l know l need to pedal a bit"

Pupil: Danny Hart

Age: 14
Weight: 7.5 stone
Height: 5ft 3in

Career highlights: 1st overall Cadet class Maxxis Cup 06, Juvenile DH National Champ 05, Juvenile NPS DH Champ 05, Juvenile 4X National Champ 05, Juvenile NPS 4X Champion O5

Goals for 2007: "NPS DH, National DH and National 4X Youth titles. Also Maxxis Cup title"

Riding style: "Fast and smooth"

Shaums & Danny Hart Mountain Biking UK - Page 3-1

What do riders like Steve Peat know that the rest of us don't?

There's nothing better than the feeling of riding your bike near the edge, when you're not sure if it's luck or skill that got you through a tricky section of trail. But this feeling can be shattered faster than you can say "slow coach" when another rider blazes past you, looking like he or she's only putting in a quarter of the effort you are. And how in the name of Sam Hill are they going so fast?

One rider who needn't worry about being overtaken is pro downhiller and freerider Shaums March. Shaums was born in Haines - Alaska, but now spends his time in British Columbia, Canada. With a racing career of over 10 years and a lifetime of riding experience under his belt, he is a professional rider in every sense of the word and a true ambassador for his sport and his sponsors. He has graced the top step of many NORBA podiums and 2006 saw him reach new heights when he took gold at the DH Masters World Championships.

In recent years Shaums has trimmed down his racing schedule and set up his Mad March Racing Camps ( ) with the simple idea of passing on his vast knowledge of riding and racing to open and eager riders.

Double Drop

First off, Shaums gets Danny to ride a short piece of trail with a small double drop.

Straight away Danny's off the lip like he's going into orbit.

This looks impressive and shows his skills, but because it's a double drop with a gap between, Shaums wants him to focus on compressing off the drop and keeping his tyres in contact with the ground as much as possible.

Danny doesn't have the weight advantage to keep him on terra Firma, so Shaums shows him how to squash his body down as he leaves the lip of the drop to push the bike down and maintain as much contact with the track as possible.

This will keep him smooth, fluid and, most importantly, fast.

The movement is broken down so Danny can clearly see each section of it.

Training Day "The Assessment"

Shaums & Danny Hart Mountain Biking UK - Page 3-2

Danny is an easy-going young chap who enjoyed his day with Shaums. He listens well and Shaums gave him some techniques to try out when he's practicing on the trail. Danny is a fast learner but, most of all, he loves to ride.

During the whole session he never put his bike down and he was always ready for the more riding and techniques. It would have been easy for Danny to dismiss the advice he was given due to the size of his already bursting trophy cabinet, but you could see him taking every point onboard and trying to apply it to his riding.

"Shaums is a top bloke and he had loads of time for me," said's Danny, "He taught me how to prepare for races and conduct myself in front of sponsors. I'm already using some of the times he gave me in my racing and practice."

Shaums said: "I really enjoyed working with Danny and his dad, which was good because they got to see what else they could improve. You just have a few hours with a coach is something they both understand can make or break a ride who has talent. Danny just needs to practice some of the basic skills to keep his riding progressing rather than keeping it at plateau."

Rocky Chute

Next Shaums spots a small rocky chute. Again he stands at the side of the track while watching Danny ride.

Shaums & Danny Hart Mountain Biking UK - Page 4

Shaums does not lead without example and shows the young gun how to tackle the rocky ground. Danny uses his BMX background and lighter weight to his advantage by skipping over the rocks like a stone over water. This technique works well and is fast but Danny is not able to make his bike take the exact line Shaums wants; However, if Danny wants to take riskier lines he needs to work with the trail.

Shaums demonstrates by riding the ideal line. Within a couple of runs Danny is looking faster down the short rocky chute and you can see his confidence growing as he pumps the ground's natural bumps and pedals down the line.


Shaums calls Danny over for a demonstration of one of his best techniques, hard braking. Shaums rides down the trail at running speed and pulls on the anchors, using his body weight to load up his Marin's suspension and in turn drive the wheels and tyres into the ground. This makes him stop faster than a stick in the spokes, and we are all suitably impressed by his human ABS braking.

He talks Danny through the stages of his braking trick and lets Danny try it out for himself. his low weight means he can jump higher than most but stopping is a little harder. By loading up his suspension and pushing the bike into the ground while braking he is able to stop quicker from speed - a trick he can use the scrub off speed when entering technical sections in races.

Danny quickly has it nailed and is stopping on the spot.

His international reputation has ensured that his course are very well attended, and he is know as one of the best coaches in mountain biking, thanks to his experience and natural ability to communicate and teach.

Shaums has been running his training camps for four seasons now and he has the experience to back up his advice. If you want to ride a little faster, jump a little higher or just be smoother than butter on a bike, Shaums can help you. He's just been appointed junior national team coach for Canada too.

Coaching Danny

We were lucky enough to go riding with Shaums and though it would be a great opportunity to tap into his skills and knowledge by asking him to coach a young British downhill hopeful. To give Shaums a true test we picked a rider who is already climbing the UK race rankings: Danny Hart.

Danny can ride a bike and he has the results to back it up: he has taken more podiums than I have had beer and kebabs (quite a lot then) - and he's still a couple of years off the legal drinking age! He was even given special consent by British Cycling to race in the Juvenile category two years early (yes, he was 10 years old). And he lists our very own Will Longden (MBUK/Santa Cruz team captain) as a personal mentor. Could Mr. March teach this already gifted young rider a few techniques to make him even faster, as well as give him some tips on how to be a true professional rider? We put the two riders together and laid out some Fort William hillside as their chalkboard.

Words of Wisdom "How to Behave Like a Pro"

Being a professional rider is not just about being able to ride faster than everyone else, although that helps, of course. A true pro is professional in every aspect, not just their riding. Shaums takes Danny to meet Duncan Riffle, US Downhill National Champion and a rider who Shaums has been mentoring for a number of years. Duncan and Shaums sit with Danny and discuss every aspect of his riding career, from dealing with the media right though to not bringing a dirty, broken bike to races. Duncan is further up the same ladder Danny wants to climb so his advice is valuable and Danny takes it onboard.

Photoshots - As Danny has just experienced, photo shoots are not glamorous affairs and it takes time to get the best shot and angle. |t's important to maintain your composure and work to get the best shots; that way the photographer will want to work with you again.

Image and Attitude They also inform Danny about working on his image and how he comes across to other people in the mountain bike industry. Be friendly and treat people well, and they're more likely to treat you with respect too.

Sponsors - Your sponsors won't be at every race so drop them an email to keep them up to date with your results and riding. That way they know you're doing a good job representing them at races every weekend

Shaums & Danny Hart Mountain Biking UK - Page 5

Corners and Berms

ln corners Danny tends to rush in, brake and then sprint out.

This technique has taken the top of both national podiums and the Maxxis Cup, but as Danny progresses his riding and grows bigger he may find this technique limiting, says Shaums. He wants to see Danny carving a smoother line around berms and bends, really using his body shape and pedal position to maintain speed.

Shaums rides both his line and Danny's line around the A berm. He tells Danny to keep his pedals level so he can carve the turn with maximum traction, Danny had been putting his pedal at the bottom of the stroke. This meant his weight was on the down pedal and it was making the bike standup through turns, which reduces traction.

The difference is clear and Danny tries it himself. He's soon looking smoother and faster. He learns that he can l use his pedal position to drive then edge of the tyre into the track and carry more speed into and out of the turn.

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The first thing Shaums does is chat with Danny to see what areas he feels he has problems with or finds hard on the trail. What Danny lacks in stature he makes up for in raw talent and Shaums picks up on this right away. After a quick chat about Danny's riding you can see the cogs in Shaums head turning. He doesn't need to check the NPS results to see that Danny is a high-level rider.

By the time we arrive at the start of the trail Shaums is already setting out sections for Danny to ride. He chooses four areas of the trail, each presenting different obstacles which he thinks he'll be able to help Danny improve on.

Check out the rest of this article to see how Danny fared and find out how to improve your downhilling.

Coaching "Take it to the Next Level"

If you want to find yourself a coach, your first stop should be the British Cycling Federation ( ). They have a national structure and plan for training plus recognised qualifications for coaches. They will be able to point you in the direction of a qualified coach. Or check BeIMIC for certified guides, Instructors and coaches all trained by Shaums and his staff.

Shaums & Danny Hart Mountain Biking UK - Page 6-2

Closer to home, take a trip to your local cycling club or bike shop, where you will find a wealth of riding experience and a British Cycling qualified coach or two. Or you can Simply watch other riders at races and see what works best or ask people for advice and opinions. Everyone started somewhere and most people will be happy to help you out with some advice.

Post by Shaums March.