How to start mountain biking

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This topic contains 8 replies, has 9 voices, and was last updated by Profile photo of Louis Harris Louis Harris 9 months ago.

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  • #235560

    Hey, so I am new to mountain biking.  I have a good bike and I have been hitting an easy local trail (https://www.mtbproject.com/trail/7009973/loop-trail).

    In order to get better, I thought that it would be good to set some goals.

    So, I came up with a long-term goal, to be able to go to the North Shore (https://www.mtbproject.com/directory/8011399/north-shore)  and ride some of those epic looking trails.  I have no clue how long it would take me in order to get good enough to ride, but I am okay with that.

    I came up with my first baby goal to be able to ride loop trail with all features in under 10 minutes. Right now I am going around the two features and it takes me about 12-15 minutes, though I am getting better.

    I suppose the next step would be harder trails, but that is as far as I have gotten in the breakdown.

    I know I am still missing some basic skills that will be required for harder rides and I am not really sure how to improve my riding beside well, riding.

    I found one article on here about drills in order to become better at singletrack, but I think even those steps are a little advanced for me.

    I am still clipping into my bike while holding on to my car because I haven’t figured out a better way to get on the bike without falling (I am really good at falling).  That is so sad, I feel bad even admitting that, but hey I am able to ride.

    Can anyone point me to some articles on here for beginner beginners?

  • #235561
  • #235576

    I’d recommend looking into fundamental skills like track standing, manuals, bunny hops, cornering, braking etc.. It will likely take some time and patience to master these skills but it will take your riding to the next level. There’s tons of content online that can help with skills. I regretted not working on MTB skills when I was a beginner.

    Also check if you have a local IMBA chapter or MTB club. Getting involved with your community is a great way to meet and ride with others, assist with trail building, and help advocate for and promote the sport.

  • #235595

    Excellent suggestions above.  Tons of information online both in written and video form.  But if you really want to progress I would highly recommend attending a MTB skills training program.  You can read and watch what you’re “supposed to do” but unless someone is filming/watching/correcting you as you ride it is very difficult to know how well you are applying the skills.  Falling is a hard – and sometimes painful – way to assess (lack of) execution of skills and can come with significant setbacks.  I came across the following as one example: https://susanhaywood.com/  Not sure if she is local to you or not.  Riding with a group can also be very helpful for newbies.  Check meetup.com for local groups in your area.

    • #235869

      Ride as many different trails as you can. Besides dedicated singletrack trails, also ride multi-use trails, fire access roads, rail-to-trails, street in front of your house, local neighborhood roads, nearby parking lots, etc. The reason I mention all these other places is because you do not have to wait for the trails to be open. Think of it as training/hot dogging/conditioning between trail rides. I also like to mix in long distance multi-use trail rides to build up my cardio and endurance.

      Without going to a trail, you can still practice your MTB skills: riding up on to sidewalk curbs, over parking lot bump curbs, riding them as skinnies, down short sets of stairs, doing full speed sprints up and down the local neighborhood streets (seated and unseated), leaning way behind seat, all the way over handlebars, and leaning far to the sides of the bike, hard braking drills, and a bunch of other skills.

      As your skills improve, you can then also practice more advanced skills like: manuals, wheelies, endos, bunny/j-hops hops, riding between obstacles, track stands,  wheelie/endo turns, etc. That way, you look forward to trying out your new skills the next time you hit the trails.

  • #235947

    In addition to what Blundar recommends, I also ride without hands a lot, sometimes through rough gravel etc just to improve my balance and feel for the bike. It’s amazing what a difference it’s made for me. Good luck and keep riding. With time, it all gets easier.

  • #236049

    Youtube is a good start, I like GMBN:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EhnIo21hi0g

    But nothing helps you like following an experienced MTBr.  Hook up with someone at the trail on a weekend or try to follow someone when it is busier.  You will try stuff you didn’t think possible and you will see how they position their body.

    I would use platform peddles while you are learning and getting more comfortable on the bike.  I have been riding since 1994 and currently teach police MTB at the academy for numerous police departments.  Start off learning the basics before trying difficult stuff.  Get good knee/shin guards and elbow/forearm pads, and gloves.  It will make your falls more forgiving and less scrapes and bumps.

    Best of luck and have fun with it.

  • #238896

    Just ride within your limits so you can gain confidence and don’t get hurt.  I’ve taken friends out on trails that were tough for them as first timers and they either got hurt or ended up wrecking their bike.  I am getting older so I like to ride a trail near me that is moderate to intermediate.  Remember it’s not a race.

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