|The Internet's Official BMX Magazine.|
Greg Hill's Home Camp: A Review
by Grant Hansen
Racing 19-27 expert class isn't easy. Nor is 10 novice or 15 inter for that matter. But the beauty of BMX is that you race against others with similar ability and speed. Those who excel move up the ranks; those who don't probably aren't putting forth the effort needed to win. Then there are people like me. I made it to expert class because of my speed, because of my dedication to training and practice. For the most part, I'm self-taught and understandably after racing for only 2 and a half years don't measure up in the skills department that my competitors possess. Sure, I can ride trails all day and get better, but with a foundation to build upon, I can take both my training AND my riding to new levels. This is where Greg Hill comes in.
Earlier last year Greg put me on a six-month training and diet program. Greg transformed me from a squirrly novice to a very fast intermediate in no time. In fact, I doubled at two nationals over the summer and was quickly heading into the land of expert. Because of my training and track time, I was getting faster and faster every day. Although now I'm one of the fastest racers at the local track, handling the competition on the national scene is a whole 'nother story.
I recently had the opportunity to fly out to Greg's house in beautiful Sunland, California, and spend 4 days with him and 3 other students. We rode, ate, rode some more, ate again...and LEARNED how to ride faster, more efficiently, more aggressively...and had fun doing it. And what's more…I now have a foundation to build my skills upon so I can continue to progress and hopefully pull into the winner's circle at an upcoming national.
Behind the Hill residence is a small, tight, and technical track with a bunch of different lines. (Note: keep the clips at home!) With each lap we all became more and more comfortable with the obstacles and tight turns. Greg's track provides the opportunity to work on manuals, jumps, carving turns, and building momentum. Greg really showed me how to use the backside of jumps and to dig my outside pedal into turns so that I could coaster lap the track for as long as I wanted, going faster each time around. There's even a two-man gate but we soon realized that you shouldn't use gates to practice your starts (more on that below).
THE REST OF CAMP HILL
Greg has a long driveway, perfect for sprints. He explained to us that the more we practice on a gate, the worse off we'll be. The reason? Each gate, although the cadence may be the same, has a slightly different timing. So, if you're used to snapping at a certain moment, it may be too early or too late depending on what gate you're on. We practiced using correct form to initiate our sprints, as if we were behind a gate. We also did time trials while wearing magnetic insoles and found that we were faster wearing them. (Contact me for more info on magnetic insoles.)
We also used the driveway for our foot down wars. Foot down is a game where you try to make the other riders lose their balance (and put their foot down) while inching up to them and not knocking into them. It's a great tool for balance, and a lot of fun!
Tucked between the track and the driveway is Greg's gym, complete with free weights, bench, and rollers: everything you need for the perfect BMX workout. Aside from showing us various weight training exercises, Greg demonstrated how to use rollers effectively, and not just to work up a sweat.
THE LOCAL TRACK
An NBL track opened just about 2 miles from Greg's house and he has full access to it for his camps and clinics. The track itself is totally 80s style--wide, downhill, tame obstacles--but has a really good rhythm section. The track is great for working on specific skills like jumping, manualing, and screaming through rhythm. After about an hour of riding, I was riding up to the rhythm section at full tilt and accelerated through it. The track operator is pretty cool and just loves to see anyone there riding. If you don't have an NBL membership, they'll give you a six-month membership for free!
Liz Hill is an incredible cook. Grilled turkey and cheese sandwiches, lasagna, pasta, enchiladas...the list goes on! Don't get the wrong idea from the word "camp." The Hill's invite you into the comfort of their home and family, treat you like family, and feed you like it's the last supper! They went out of their way to make sure we were very comfortable and made us feel at home.
Greg's home camp was worth every penny. I learned more in 4 days then I have in the past 2 years of just riding. I can now take what I have learned and use it to build myself into a serious racing machine, while having fun all the while. For more information on Greg's home camps, visit his web site or call Greg at 818-951-0051.
Copyright 1999. All rights reserved.