Ryan ‘R-Dog’ Howard is a professional freerider and slopestyler who hails from Aptos, California. The Trek factory rider is known for his aggressive yet smooth style and being a general steeze master. I’ve put links to three videos showcasing his riding.
I’ve included the first video link, 3 Bikes, 3 Minutes, because it shows how he manipulates the laws of physics, destabilising his bike prior to his trademark whips (0:52 seconds in). I’ve written in a previous post about the role of Newton’s laws in mountain biking. With R-Dog carrying so much speed along the trail inertia wants to keep him and his bike travelling in a straight line so what he has to do is weave a bit before the jump. Destabilising the bike to allows him to get him and his bike at 90 degrees to the direction they’re travelling and pull a whip that’s dripping with style.
The second link is series 2, episode 2 of Brandon Semenuk’s ‘Life Behind Bars’. I chose this because this it gives us an insight into what makes R-Dog the rider he is – purposeful practice. The episode shows Ryan, Brandon and friends practicing basic skills eg bunny hopping, jumping, manualing but pushing one another to their limits. These guys don’t just see who can bunny hop the highest, they set the bar until they can’t clear it then try and clear it anyway. In the same way, they don’t just see who can do the biggest or most stylish jump, they shorten their run up to a point where they can’t make the jump then try and jump it anyway. It’s this kind of purposeful practice that you’ll see all elite athletes engaging in and what ultimately makes them different from everyone else.
The final link I’ve put in purely because I like it but this doesn’t mean there’s nothing to be gained from it. During the film R-Dog showcases his trademark riding style and sitting back and marvelling at it will have your mirror neurones firing and neurotags lighting…….if you want to know what that’s all about there’s a post on its way to explain.
If you’re going to take the time to practice, practice like the elite.