Whistler locals launch mountain bike app

Trail Tips delivers mobile, step-by-step instruction for riders of all levels

Trail Tips, a new mountain bike instructional app created by two Whistler locals, launched last Tuesday (June 28) with the aim of helping everyone from beginner to advanced riders perfect their skills.  

Sebastian Johnson, a long-time mountain bike instructor and Whistler resident, was inspired to create an online instructional service after noticing a lack of quality and availability in mobile mountain bike instruction, particularly when compared to other sports.

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“Last year I was talking to one of my clients who was a fanatic golfer, and there’s tons and tons of instructional apps for that, but nothing really for mountain biking,” he said. “I thought I could really increase the quality of online instruction for the sport.”

Johnson set out to develop the app a year ago, with the help of his girlfriend, Anna Sobieniak, who works as a graphic designer. “I never really knew how much effort goes into an app,” he said. “We started more on the visual idea for the app and the web page, and then I started writing down all the skills I wanted to include.”

This full year of work culminated last week, when Tips and Trails officially launched on both iOS and Android. “It’s been really, really cool, to see a project all the way through from having an idea to finishing the app and getting it published,” said Johnson.

The app includes over 20 slow-motion videos, each about 45 seconds long, that provide users with the proper instruction needed to master everything from beginner skills like basic stance, braking and cornering to advanced maneuvers like lunge drops and tricks, and even includes some pedaling techniques. “There’s something for everyone,” said Johnson.

Johnson said his goal is to improve the overall quality of mountain biking and access to proper instruction worldwide, regardless of riders’ experience level or location. “So many people don’t live in Whistler, or in a resort town, and they don’t have access to high quality mountain bike instruction,” he said. “We believe everyone should have access to trail advice, whether you’re new to riding, looking to scrub seconds off your race time or just wanting to fine-tune your technique.”

“There’s a lot of instruction online, if you go on YouTube, I personally don’t think it’s high quality, and they’re often a few minutes long,” he added. “Even if you don’t mind the quality of the instruction, it’s hard to remember three hours later, or a day later, when you’re out on the trails.”

Johnson said the idea behind Trail Tips’ videos is to provide higher-quality instruction, in less time: “It’s quick little tips that break down the skill into key components.”

Making it even more useful to riders, the app is not WiFi-dependent. “That’s one of the biggest draws,” said Johnson. “You can pull it out of your pocket and have it with you on the trails, and be able to watch it and try it out, and re-watch it and try it again.”

The app is now available for purchase and costs $3.99. “We really wanted to make something competitive,” said Johnson, adding that a typical mountain bike lesson can cost riders anywhere from $200 to $600, depending on the length. “Everything I teach in my lessons, I have on this app.”

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