Welcome to Part 1 of the 6 part series on “How To Become A Better Mountain Biker”. These are tips and tricks that I have used over the years to become a better rider. You may find all or some of these useful, but I can guarantee you that every single one of these tips worked and still work to this day. These should help every rider…from the beginner to the seasoned veteran. If your goal is to become a better rider…read on and keep the rubber side down!
Ride Different Trails
In case you missed it…take a look at the other articles in the series.
- Part 1 – Ride Different Trails
- Part 2 – Sessioning
- Part 3 – Diversify
- Part 4 – Miles…Miles…and More Miles…
- Part 5 – Cross Training
- Part 6 – Heavy Bike Training
Ride Different Trails
Everyone has their local trail that they have grown to love and know like the back of their hand. Here in lies the major flaw with becoming a better rider on your local trails…YOU KNOW IT LIKE THE BACK OF YOUR HAND! This is great when you are looking for a quick ride or one where you don’t have to think. You can put it on autopilot and go through the same routine you are used to doing every Tuesday.
Becoming a better rider is best accomplished by going outside of your comfort zone and away from the norm. Many times, riders will even ride the same trails on the same trail system over and over again.
It is time to step out of that comfort zone…but the real question is why? When you encounter a new trail for the first time, you do not know what to expect. You are on your “A Game” to anticipate your next move. If this trail has different soil conditions, features, elevation, etc…you compensate for these differences. This requires you to use different muscles, techniques and thought patterns to get through and enjoy the ride.
After trying new trails, you will notice that you not only ride your favorite local trail better, but you ride it differently. Without knowing it…you apply the techniques and new found talent to the trail that you know like the back of your hand. You have become a better rider by expanding what your body and mind are comfortable accomplishing.
How Do I Do This?
- Never Ride A New Trail Alone - If you are riding a completely new trail system for the first time…never ride it alone. If something happens, you have no idea where you are or how long it takes to get back. More importantly, it is hard to enjoy a ride when you are constantly looking for your next turn. Ride with someone who knows the trail so you can actually enjoy the ride and hit it at speed.
- Ride Different Trails Within Your Favorite Trail System – As I said before, sometimes this is as simple as riding new trails within your favorite system. The added advantage to this technique is that you may already know where this trail starts, ends and how long it will take to finish. This allows you to take more liberties than if it was a completely new trail system. It also gives you a completely new view of the trail you know and love.
- Join Group Rides – Check your local forum boards or talk to other riding friends. Riding in group rides can get you on trails that you never even knew existed. Add the community aspect and you will get advice and help from fellow riders regarding that trail and your abilities. I have yet to come across a rider that is the best at every aspect of mountain biking. There are pros that can leave you in the dust but are not “pros” at downhilling. There are pro downhillers that learn skills every ride with experienced cross country racers. There are also beginners that learn loads from experienced veterans. Just remember…there is never a best or a worst in group rides…only riders with different talents.
- Keep An Open Mind – This is the most important thing to remember. Your misconceptions or fears can hold you back from accomplishing something great. Try to keep an open mind and try new trails that you didn’t think you would ever ride. The amount of knowledge and confidence that you can pick up by doing this is fantastic.
Homework For This Week
Get out and ride something new. It doesn’t have to be a long epic. Start small and see how you do, or you can really push yourself and try something long over the weekend. Either way…get out there and ride a new trail.
After you ride that trail, go back to your local trail head and see if you feel a difference. The results are going to surprise you.
Next tip on the board…SESSIONING.