Bill & Jubal's XC-llent Adventure: Steve Hatch & 2,000 Miles

Discussion in 'The Perfect Line and Other Riding Myths' started by Exit Tours, Jan 17, 2013.

  1. Exit Tours

    Exit Tours UYS

    Mar 17, 2012
    Heart of the Rockies, Salida, CO.

    Read the first installment of Bill & Jubal's XC-llent Adventure below as they make the 2,000+ mile road trip from Idaho to Montana to Arizona. The boys learn a few things as they attempt to Chisel into Champions with Steve Hatch and make it back to work by Monday. Be sure to watch the documentary of their journey at the end.

    Bill and Jubal want to start this off by wishing all of you a Happy New Year! The coming of the New Year is always
    a good time to start fresh, and most of us make New Year’s resolutions every year. We are no exception. In years past, we have both set out on January 1st to eat better, go to the gym more, go to more races, etc. But what happens to most resolutions? Not much – literally!

    Although we start out with the best intentions, our efforts usually fizzle out pretty quickly, and we soon find ourselves back in our old habits. Since the world didn’t end on Dec. 21 like it was supposed to, Bill and I wanted to start 2013 off right!

    Gassing up the Cherry Bomb

    2013 is going to be a huge season for both of us. Bill and I sat down last fall and talked about the upcoming race season and we wanted to give it hell. I wanted to really focus on racing and give it my full attention for the first time. Throughout high school and college, riding and racing was just a hobby for me; my parents made it clear that school came first. Now out of school, I have a great job in the motorcycle industry with a steady income, and the time has come where I can focus more seriously on my racing.

    Bill’s motivation was different; he has focused on racing and done well at highest level before. His motivation was to push through the plateau he was stuck on, and really take things to the next level. Although our motivations were different, our goal was the same, and we knew we were going to need some help to get there. Instead of making some weak New Year’s resolutions as in years past, Bill and I decided to jump in with both feet and called Steve Hatch Racing (SHR).

    Why did we choose Steve Hatch? That’s a good question, as our preliminary research provided plenty of school, coaches, etc. that were much closer and much less expensive. We figured that since Bill is already plenty fast, and since I can even beat him on occasion (undisputed practice champion, look it up), we needed more than just riding tips. Of course we knew we could ride faster with some coaching, but we wanted to fine tune all the aspects of our race program.

    We needed help with the training, diet, and mental aspects of racing that set the top guys apart from the rest. This is something that is harder to find. It seems like the top pros just inherently know this, and these “secrets” are cryptic to the average rider. After making some calls and doing some research, we decided that SHR would best fit our needs.

    Cherry Bomb loaded up at the West Yellowstone F.D.

    What sets Hatch and his crew apart from other schools is that they are much more than just a riding school. Steve’s “Chiseled into a Champion” program was the ticket we were looking for, so we took a deep breath, got out the check books, and signed up. I don’t know if either of us had any idea of what we were really getting into!

    We spent the Christmas Holiday making the final preparations for the trip. There was a LOT of last minute work to do on the bikes and my van, as this was going to be the first REAL trip the Cherry Bomb had been on. As such, I left Saturday, Dec. 29th, about 5 hours later than I was planning. Fitting the mini front wheel on to my 125 and getting a week’s worth of gear and equipment was no small task. Once on the road, the 4.5 hour trip to West Yellowstone was a walk in the park. I had the music cranked loud the whole way, as I wanted to get my last taste of decent music before we had to listen to Bill’s crap for the next week!

    As I drove into West Yellowstone Saturday night, it became apparent why the area is known as the Snowmobile Capital of the World; there was snow EVERYWHERE!! Snowmobiles in West Yellowstone are like belly buttons – everyone has one! The city streets were more like groomed snowmobile trails, and I could not help but laugh, thinking, “We are in sled mecca, and we are the only two dudes with dirt bikes in town!” Bill was still on shift at the fire station, so when I got there, he pulled an ambulance outside so we could load the van where it was warm, dry and light. After playing a game that could be best described as a cross between Operation and Jenga, we managed to get two motorcycles, two mountain bikes, 2 gear bags, and all of our other gear arranged in the van. I kept insisting that we had plenty of room, but Bill kept grumbling something about 30 pounds of **** in a 20lb bag.

    Bill did not get off shift until 9:30 the next morning, so after our usual screwing around and a pleasant breakfast brunch, we hit the road under snowy skies at the crack of noon. We were certain that the snow would subside pretty quickly as we headed south, and that our 1000-mile drive would be a walk in the park. The only catch was we had to make the drive in one day, as our Chiseled program was slated to start at 9 am on Monday. After about 4 hours, we crossed the Utah state line, but the funny thing about Utah is that it goes on FOREVER! Between the wind, dark, and icy roads, it felt like it was never going to end.

    We somehow managed to get caught in a continuous 600 mile snow storm, and at times, we had to slow to 45mph on the freeway. We kept pressing on, though, and the Four Cylinders of Fury delivered us safely to Vegas and dry roads around 11pm. For the next 6 hours, we continued to solve the world’s problems. At 4:47am, we reached the hotel and settled into take a restful 3 hour nap before starting our first day.

    Strange training in the early morning desert light

    The next morning (i.e., pretty much immediately), we meet Steve and Mitch at the Ihop by the hotel. I had met Steve before, and he has always struck me as a guy who has a true passion for the sport. His right-hand-man, Mitch is also a solid dude, and after the meet-n-greet, we knew we had come to the right place. The first thing we did was fill out an initial evaluation. This was way more than a simple one page questionnaire; this thing was a full-on college midterm! We had to fill out seven pages of questions that analyzed our strengths, weaknesses, goals, hopes, dreams, astrological sign, mother’s maiden name, shoe size, etc.

    This is not something Bill and I were expecting, but part of what makes the Chiseled into a Champion Program so unique is that it is completely individualized for each student. Steve wanted to get into our heads right away and custom tailor EVERYTHING so we could get the most out of our experience. Once this was complete, we headed out to the desert for to get started on the bike.

    We followed Steve and Mitch out to Canyon Off-road Park just north of Phoenix and were impressed to find a section all set up just for us. SHR had everything set up, including rut tracks, circle ruts, a trials/extreme course, starting lines, etc. We could tell they had done this before. Mitch and Steve’s jaws dropped as Bill and I unloaded enough gear for a small dealership out of the Cherry Bomb, but we were soon geared up and ready to go....

    We spent a few minutes warming up and playing follow the leader as Steve gave us a quick tour of the facility, then it was off to work! Bill and I took turns over the next couple of hours, hitting the rut tracks at close to race pace so Mitch and Steve could watch us and see what we were doing wrong and what we were doing right. After that, Steve started to explain the basics.

    Jubal Brown, Steve Hatch and Bill Radecky training on Mtn bikes

    Steve started at the beginning and reminded us about keeping our elbows up, looking ahead, griping the bike with our legs, yada, yada, yada. We all do that…right? Of course Bill and I do, totally! We do that all the time - that goes without saying. Next Steve told us that 90% of what you do on a dirt bike is the ABCs – Acceleration, Braking, and Cornering. Of course Steve, DUH! What else are you going to tell us?! THE SKY IS BLUE?! FIRE IS HOT?! What’s the deal here? We already know this stuff; we just came here to learn how to do it faster! But that is when it hit us; what must we do to do this stuff faster? When most of us practice, we go out and just ride, and when we are really putting some work in, we WORK HARD on going faster. But what specifically do you do to go faster? Try harder? Hmmmm. You might be onto something here Steve…

    Over the course of the next few days, we worked on really getting to know the ins and outs of the ABCs. And as we found out, there really is a lot more to accelerating, braking, and cornering than meets the eye. Tuesday we worked on acceleration and breaking. Bill and I each did at least 75 moto starts in a row! This is where we learned there really is more to accelerating than pinning it! Mitch taught us how to really feel the traction threshold, and how subtle differences really did make a difference in how the bike reacted and hooked up. It was the same for braking. We did a couple test runs, where we would do a moto start, pin it to a line in the dirt, and then stop as quickly as we could. Mitch put a marker where our front wheel stopped, and then it was time again to soak up some more moto-knowledge.

    Mitch taught us some fine points that most of us would consider miniscule differences. The variance between the right way and the wrong way was so small it was really difficult to feel the difference. We found ourselves wondering why such small differences would even matter! Sure enough, trying the correct technique yielded a stopping distance that was 3-5 feet shorter that our previous attempts! Big deal right?! What is 3 measly feet?!

    Sounds pretty trivial until Steve added it up:

    “Okay, so say that you stop three feet sooner. What does this mean? You can be on the gas three feet longer, which saves you a half-second of time, then you can get on the brakes 3 feet later, which saves you another half-second. Then you hit the corner, and accelerate more effectively like we showed you. There is another half-second. One corner, 1.5 seconds faster. How many corners are in ONE enduro special test? 100? Good, you saved yourself 2.5 minutes in one test! How many in a 3 hour GNCC? 1000 turns? You just beat second place by 25 minutes! Adds up pretty quick!”

    Bill Radecky railing a turn at SHR outside Phoenix

    This is when we realized that we were really just splitting hairs. Steve told us at the end of day one, “We have worked with tons of riders, including Taylor Robert and Ryan Sipes. Coming into this week, you guys are in the top 5-8% of anyone we have ever worked with. That’s the good news. The extra 3% that separates you from the top guys is what is the hardest to work on. It’s the precision that makes the difference.” Precision really is the name of the game. Most people ride the bike within a 1-3 foot window, meaning that they are aiming their front tire into the width of the trail in most cases.

    This is not precise enough; one should focus on a path of earth that is only the width of a front tire. Aim small, miss small. The same goes for braking, and cornering, and EVERYTHING else. Steve also showed us how a degree or two difference in body position will affect what the bike does. Sounds easy, but do you have any idea how hard it is to change your body position by TWO degrees? Way harder than I imagined! This is something I struggled with all week! Feeling the difference in my body position, how the bike reacted, and the results there in was frustrating and at time mind-boggling! Focusing enough to actually feel the difference was also a hefty task! As Steve taught us over the course of the week, the difference between the best and the rest all comes down to focus and precision.

    Even though we could have spent a month perfecting our focus and precision, there was still more work to do! We still had to work on training, nutrition, and mental conditioning! We spent time on mountain bikes, in the Yoga studio, and at the gym learning how to better make use of our training hours. Steve knows we have full time jobs and relationships, so he did a great job showing us how to effectively manage our training time to get the most out of it. He also showed us workouts that really translate to better results on the bike, which really eliminated the guess work in deciding on what actually works and what just builds “looks.”

    The same can be said for nutrition. Searching the internet provides a myriad of conflicting information that left us more confused than when we started! Should we go organic? All natural? What about gluten? Can we eat bread?! Steve took us to normal-people restaurants like Subway and Chipotle for lunch each day and explained what to get and what not to. Turns out, it is not so bad! We were also really skeptical of that organic hippy crap, swearing we would not swap our DCs for Birkenstocks, or our vans for Priuses. Steve explained the pluses and minuses of each, and allowed us to weight the options for ourselves. As a result, I timidly admit there is now some overpriced, long-haired organic food in my refrigerator now… Peace, man.

    Bill Radecky on the KTM and Jubal Brown on the TM in the Early Morning desert light

    The final component we covered with Hatch was the mental game. This is almost always the weakest part of most amateur athletes, yet it is always the first to be overlooked and the last to be worked on. Coming into the week with Steve, I felt like a B-class mind with A-class speed and AA-class aspirations. On the starting line of the ISDE qualifiers last year, I sat next to Fred Hoess (15 ISDE Gold Medals) and Ian Blythe (Enduro World Championship racer), who were riding LOI just like me, thinking, “I don’t even deserve to be here with these guys! This is crazy! Look at their bikes! Look what they have accomplished! They have ridden for Factory Husqvarna and HM Honda, and I am a desk jockey! WTF?!” I was defeating myself before the race even started! This is a bad habit that I wanted to fix. Hatch helped me realize that just because I have not accomplished what Fred or Ian has doesn’t mean that I don’t put in the same hard work, that I don’t have the same desire and that I haven’t earned it!

    Bill’s mental struggles were different than mine, but were just as debilitating. While confidence was not his issue, he felt as though his riding had plateaued. Even though he had been trying harder and harder to get better over the last 5 years, he was stuck and not getting any faster. He had tried everything he could think of, but it wasn’t until we got with Steve and Mitch that he made some major steps forward.

    Friday was our last day with Steve and Mitch, and it was then that we got the opportunity to put together everything that we had learned. We headed out to a secret desert location and cut in a rad rut track! After a week of doing drill after drill and going slow to really learn the techniques, we were both excited to put the plan in motion. We started out the day at half speed and slowly worked our way up. Steve explained that they key to doing drills is to work at 50-75% to build muscle memory. Repetition is the name of the game, and one quote Steve said that really stuck with me was “Practice doesn’t make perfect – PERFECT practice makes perfect!

    As the day went on, we kept increasing our speed little by little, making sure to focus 100% on the correct technique! By the end of the day, we were killing it, and I am happy to say Bill and I were both getting flat nasty! I couldn’t believe the difference in speed! I knew I was going so much faster, as was evidenced by the constant use of the throttle stop, but I felt more in control, more fluid, and more comfortable than ever before. Watching Bill was just a uplifting, as I could see a HUGE difference in his riding from where he was at the beginning of the week. So much for that plateau!

    Jubal Brown setting up for a turn at the Steve Hatch Racing 'Chiseled into a Champion' training school

    After a whirlwind of a week, we surgically packed our stuff back into the Cherry Bomb Saturday morning headed back towards the Great White North. The drive back was just as long, but we were more numb to it, as weariness of both the mind and body welcomed the time in the car to just take a break and let it all soak in. Saturday night we made it into Mesquite, where we found a little sports pub just in time to catch both A1 SX main events. It really was a treat to get to eat some killer pizza and critique someone else’s riding instead of our own! After staying the night in a casino room that had definitely seen better days, we completed the rest of the drive. Bill’s wife Ashley met us with their van in Idaho Falls, and after what had to be a record for van-swap-in-15-degree-weather, we went our separate ways. At 9pm, with almost 2600 more miles on the van that the week before, I was home.

    What did we get out of this experience? Well, if we told you that, you would be reading an encyclopedia compared to the small novel you have just read! It was a week of incredible highs and lows, “ah-ha!” and “doh!” moments, and some inner soul searching. It was definitely more than just some riding lessons! We came away with a new box of tools, filled with all sorts of new utensils for going faster on the bike, managing our time more efficiently, and winning the mental game. Not only do we have a general idea of how to do better, we have instructions, almost an itemized-checklist of exactly what to do to go faster and perform better. Was it an overnight transformation? Absolutely not, we are only at the beginning, but we now know exactly what it will take to get to that next level. We are well on our way.

    We cannot thank Steve and Denise Hatch, Eric Bailey, and Mitch Carvolth enough for what they did for us that week. If you are interested in taking your riding and life to the next level, check out

    You can follow Bill, Jubal and their adventure throughout the season on Facebook

    Bill & Jubal's XC-llent Facebook and on

    Episode 1 on Youtube
  2. DAKEZ

    DAKEZ Long timer

    Mar 18, 2007
    Begin Op Zoom

    This belongs in Ride Reports or Day Tripping.
  3. wrk2surf

    wrk2surf on the gas or brakes

    Dec 16, 2007
    THE exact center of California/Bass lake/Yosemite
    Cant wait to watch this unfold...

    You boys always have a place here

    You have my email Jubal ...