How do you help new people get into the sport?

Forums Mountain Bike Forum How do you help new people get into the sport?

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    • #124390

      I started mountain biking in 2010 because my college has an excellent trail system. I wouldn’t really consider myself a great biker but I have gotten into it enough that I can hold my own on many trails. My issue is that I am mostly self-taught. I began solo-riding and have never really linked up with other mountain bikers. However as I have been riding more, more of my friends are interested in getting into the sport. I try to be as supportive as possible by loaning bikes and taking them out riding. Many of them are getting pretty good but I feel as though I should do more to help them.

      My question is, How do you help new people enter the sport?

      Currently I have been loaning friends my Trek hardtail to let them experience a better bike than one from a box store. I also take them out to easier trails and have them follow me. I am pretty decent at recognizing their pace and then I attempt to exceed it just a little so that they are challenged to keep up with me. I criticize any issues I notice but riding behind me that can be difficult. I also throw out any helpful bits of information I can think of while riding and yell it back. Riding lead I can also give them a heads up about what obstacles are coming and things to remember while riding it.

      I have actually had pretty good success like this as I have introduced 5-6 people that now ride fairly regularly and have gone out and purchased their own bikes. I am just curious what others do so that I can be a better teacher to others. As I said I am pretty much self-taught and therefore never had a mentor like I am trying to be for these people.

    • #124391

      Great topic. I’m currently trying to figure out why there aren’t more seniors mountain biking.

      It seems to me that relatively few of my recreationally-active, age-related peers (AARP crowd, baby boomers, seniors) are mountain bikers. I just don’t see many out on the MORC trails in the Twin Cities area where I mostly ride.

      Skiing seems to be a close cousin to mountain biking, with elements from both cross country and downhill skiing. And when I’m XC skiing or snowboarding here in the Midwest, I see plenty of seniors.

      Is it fear? Cost? Areas to ride? Image?

    • #124392

      Rwmtb, first, relating your own personal experience is always a good way to start. One thing I have found that is important, as well, is to not talk to much about all of the great crashes and near misses you have had. While we find those funny stories, I’ve noticed it is a good way to get new bikers nervous, or scared off altogether.

      Also, check youtube. There are some good videos out there that will help with tips, like this one.

      Griffinjay, I see tons of 40 and 50 something bikers here in Northern California. This is, arguably and in my opinion, the fastest growing segment of our sport. I have ridden with a 65 year old, but I would have to say, from my unscientific view, that the number of riders 60 and older does drop off. It is a good conversation though, as you say. Is this because people are afraid of being hurt? I don’t believe it is the physical activity, as I see a lot of senior road cyclists.

      Another possible theory is that 40 and 50 somethings have more expendable income for pricey mountain bikes, whereas the older riders may not be able to afford it? Just a thought…

    • #124393

      Gar29, I hadn’t thought about the possibility of riders dropping out after 60, but it seems more likely that there just aren’t that many who got into the sport back in the 1980s or 1990s who would now be riding in their 60s. If you’re seeing of lots of those in their 40s and 50s now, I guess we’ll know in another decade or so if most keep it up.

      "gar29" wrote

      Griffinjay, I see tons of 40 and 50 something bikers here in Northern California. This is, arguably and in my opinion, the fastest growing segment of our sport. I have ridden with a 65 year old, but I would have to say, from my unscientific view, that the number of riders 60 and older does drop off. It is a good conversation though, as you say. Is this because people are afraid of being hurt? I don’t believe it is the physical activity, as I see a lot of senior road cyclists.

    • #124394

      A question for anyone who introduces mountain biking to newbies:

      What’s your thinking about protective gear like gloves, knee/shin pads, and elbow pads when introducing them to mountain biking?

      On the one hand, it could be argued that if people are wearing protective gear, they’re less worried about getting hurt if they fall and therefore they’re more relaxed, learn more quickly, and thus even LESS likely to fall.

      On the other hand, it could be argued that if a ride leader/instructor is wearing protective gear and/or urging that the new riders do likewise, it says that this sport is very dangerous even at the beginner level, and therefore they’re more anxious, learn less quickly, and thus even MORE likely to fall.

    • #124395

      When I take out a new rider, I am taking them on an easy trail, which means I would not be wearing padding. I always make sure the new rider has the basics-helmet, gloves and glasses. On an easy trail, I think this is fine, as you shouldn’t be pushing the new rider to hard (yet 😉 ). I always have a couple spare helmets and old gloves laying around to loan out for a ride or two.

      The rider is new, and most likely uncertain about the sport. If he thinks that just to take a ride he has to invest a ton in padding, on top of that expensive bike, the rider might lose interest. What I’ve noticed is that after a ride or two, the newbie usually falls in love (who wouldn’t!) and is more than willing to start looking into buying their own gear.

      I don’t worry about the knee/arm/chest padding until we get into downhill riding. This is a personal opinion, I know others that wear pads on every trail, but I think is a decision the newbie can make on their own after a ride or two.

      I took a newish rider out recently. When he showed up at my house, he had on his full moto-cross gear. He had actually ridden downhill before, once or twice, but never cross country. I’m pretty sure next time we ride, he won’t be sporting all of the padding!

    • #124396
      "rwmtb" wrote

      My question is, How do you help new people enter the sport?

      Good question, @rwmtb. It’s very generous that you land your bike to friends so they could experience better bike.
      I introduced a few people into mtb too. My personal opinion is that you don’t have to push new riders too much. Explain and show the basics of riding on singletrack (climbing, descending, cornering, braking etc) and let them lead the ride. This way you’ll be able to see their progress or mistakes from behind and politely suggest a better method to clean that gnarly rock garden or switchback. Novice rider won’t feel as if he/she racing against you and will learn to react quicker for any unexpected obstacles on the trail.
      A basic protection (helmet, gloves and sunglasses) are welcome yet not mandatory if you bring a new rider to EASY beginner-friendly trail. Once they will get REALY interested in MTB they’ll understand how important to ride safe and will buy that shiny helmet. But many people don’t like flying down black diamond rock garden or skinny and prefer to ride rail-to-trail, where all that protection is not necessary.
      Almost forgot, post-ride grilled bratwurst with beverage, for example, could turn great biking into memorable weekend.
      Again, this is my personal opinion, so correct me if I’m wrong.

    • #124397
      "griffinjay" wrote

      Gar29, I hadn’t thought about the possibility of riders dropping out after 60, but it seems more likely that there just aren’t that many who got into the sport back in the 1980s or 1990s who would now be riding in their 60s. If you’re seeing of lots of those in their 40s and 50s now, I guess we’ll know in another decade or so if most keep it up.

      47 myself and riding with people between 20 and 60. 60+ MTB-riders, I met only randomly, most of them prefer road bikes. It’s not that they drop out at this age, most of them riding road bikes ever since. For myself, I can’t imagne to ride anything other than a MTB….

    • #124398

      As a follow-up to my series of blog posts about how to get more seniors into mountain biking, I’ve got a new post up widening it to newbies of all types.

      5 ways to make mountain biking more attractive to beginners
      http://mountainbikegeezer.com/5-ways-to … beginners/

      Comments welcome, here or there.

    • #124399
      "griffinjay" wrote

      As a follow-up to my series of blog posts about how to get more seniors into mountain biking, I’ve got a new post up widening it to newbies of all types.

      5 ways to make mountain biking more attractive to beginners
      http://mountainbikegeezer.com/5-ways-to … beginners/

      Comments welcome, here or there.

      Your blog post is very well done!

      I think you emphasized a very important point in the marketing aspect of the sport. Too often the sport is emphasized for its extreme portion, which is only one part of the whole.

      I enjoy working with new riders to help them find the love of mountain biking I developed so long ago. One area I realized I was failing was by telling all of those "great" crash stories! While entertaining, they sure do not paint a very fun pastime to new riders.

      One area I have always enjoyed is the camaraderie. It is not always about being the fastest to the top or the bottom, or hitting the biggest jump. What made me love riding was getting out with friends, seeing new things and sharing experiences. The skills will come along as the new rider develops.

    • #124400

      This is obviously an in depth topic and books could be written on between the psychological aspects of adult education and the techniques and skills aspects of mountain biking.

      Perhaps one of the key things to remember is to make sure whoever you are introducing to the sport knows that it is 100% okay to walk anything they aren’t comfortable riding. Demonstrate how to ride it, explain it and offer pointers, but if they still aren’t up to it let them know that thats fine (and plan to come back after more experience).

      Also, some of the stuff we all take for common sense like keeping pedals at 9 and 3, braking before turns, not locking the front brake, etc. are all good first day stuff. Remember not to overload them with too much too fast.

    • #596123

      What is ur opinion about sports betting?

    • #596282

      Great topic. I’m currently trying to figure out why there are people who like betting here 1win. Unfortunately, I don’t understand how many people are betting on mountain biking competitions? Guys, is this a really popular niche on this service? How do you figure who to bet on? Do you have a strategy or something similar? Share your experience and tips, because I love this sport and would like to make bets. Thank you all in advance.

    • #596289

      fjoksls, you’re a total asshat spammer.  I think the REAL question is why Jeff hasn’t banned you and blocked your IP a long time ago? You post porn links, and they’re still there. Amazing that an idiot like you is still around.

    • #596423

      Great article. I am 68 and still riding. Here are a few of things I’ve done to get others interested in riding.

      For the record, I have 2 spare bikes (3 if you count my fat-bike).

      • When I see someone hiking on the trails, I pull off to the side – no exceptions. If they stop, I start a conversation and talk to them about the MTB world. If they show an interest I offer to help them get started. I will even set up a time and place to ride and introduce them to the sport.
      • I network about MTB everywhere I go. If there’s an interest, I do the same as the previous statement.
      • I work with a NICA team in MD and I speak to the middle/high school kids at my church about MTB. Even if they aren’t interested in joining a team, I usually get a few of them out on trails.
      • I do the same thing for the 20-30 somethings at my church – and now we have a small group of riders – who are asking their friends.

      In all of these experiences, I speak about tail etiquette, trail maintenance, and other things. Not just personal experience and “life stuff” which also comes into the conversations.

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