Learning how to wheelie is one of the quickest ways to up your mountain biking game. But a lot of riders, some of whom have been riding for decades, can’t perform this basic maneuver that lets you ride solely on your rear wheel. Veteran mountain biker, professional trials rider, and coach Ryan Leech knows this. He’s tried to teach riders the nuanced move in a day and found that a few hours just wasn’t long enough. So, he created the 30-Day Wheelie Challenge, a one-month program designed to get you comfortable with your front wheel in the air like you just don’t care.
But it won’t be a walk in the park.
“This course has the word ‘challenge’ in the name for a reason: You’ll be tested physically and mentally,” says Leech. “You’ll feel old at times, and other times like a kid. You may want to quit at times, and others you’ll face your fears. The program supports you step by step.”
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Leech introduced the program, which costs $30, in early April, and more than 300 people have already started.
Most lessons include a video that is approximately four minutes long, accompanied by written instructions. Leech, who learned to wheelie when he was 14, recommends that riders practice about 15 minutes per day.
Before offering the 30-Day Wheelie Challenge to the public, a group of more than two dozen beta testers pedaled through the program. Results varied due to the cycling experience of each rider as well how diligently the program was followed, but the success rate couldn’t be higher.
"Based on all those who have completed the program, there is one thing in common: their ability to confidently pop into a wheelie and stay in the float zone long enough to enjoy the wheelie feeling," says Leech.
Students taking the course run the gamut of cycling newbies to a former pro BMXer who now races mountain bikes professionally: Jill Kintner.
Believe or not, Kintner had wanted to wheelie her whole life, but found more frustration than front-wheel-floating freedom. To ensure she stuck to the task at hand, she even enlisted a few friends to embark on the 30-Day Wheelie Challenge with her.
"Ryan has such a supportive and comprehensive way of teaching that it was easy to understand,” explains Kintner. "[He] guided me through each day and it was incredibly satisfying to go from front wheel off the ground to controlled wheelies for almost 30 pedal strokes."
For student Steve Sheldon, a mountain biker with more than two decades of experience, the challenge was all about overcoming his fears. "I could never wheelie—was always afraid of trying and hurting myself—but the course breaks down all the steps and introduces them at a steady, comfortable rate," he says.
Sheldon kept at it because slow and steady wins the
race 30-Day Wheelie Challenge. Once he got the wheel off the ground, Sheldon became hooked on a feeling that became more and more attainable.
"Chasing that elusive float became easier each and every day," Sheldon says.
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