Girls Guide to Better Mountain Bike Riding

This guest post was written by Betty over at

My boyfriend and I got serious about riding at the same time, but we progressed at very different rates. While he was killing on the cross-country trails I was hike-and-biking. He ambled nimbly over rock gardens and I made spectacular falls. At the end of rides- he was smiling and I was swearing. Why is it that for some women the mountain biking learning curve can be so drastically different? As a girl rider, I get riding advice from everybody- even when I don’t ask for it. I’ve culled the things that have really helped me ride better here.

Riding by Myself

Sounds counter intuitive to everything you read and while riding with groups certainly has helped me progress; I’ve found riding by myself just as invaluable. With a group you have all the added pressures of keeping up and not looking like a fool gulp from your CamelBak as your heart tries to break free from your chest. At times I’ve found myself walking obstacles so the guy behind can ride it. Riding by yourself, the only thing between you and the rocks- is you and the rocks. You can take your time ride things again and really tune into the ride.

Strength Training

This is huge for female riders. I rode for four or five years without any real strength training and just never seemed to improve cardio or technically wise. Then one winter to help stall out the boredom- I picked up the weights. It was nothing too crazy- just a little whole body conditioning. I started the next riding season stronger than ever and found myself easily tackling hills that were far too daunting before. Since then, if I have a weak winter of strength training- I find that I just don’t have that kick.

It’s not just hills that benefit from strength training. It’s all obstacles. It takes a combination of leg, core, and arm power to balance as you ride a rock garden or jump over a log. It’s easier for guys to carry muscle mass over seasons and harder for the ladies. It’s just the way our bodies work.

Stop Thinking

Using your frontal lobe helps as you tackle work projects and prioritizes your day, but sometimes you need to lose that nagging inner voice and just ride. We’ve all heard that inner voice before trying to integrate all our previous riding with all that darned advice we get. Lean forward, pull back, turn left, and turn right. I over think everything and whenever I am on a girl ride- we all fall into the same trap. So how do you turn the switch to off?

Here are a few ideas: get yourself good and tired or get a catchy song stuck in your head (Honkey Tonk Badonkadonk anyone?). Needless to say- it’s not easy, but letting go and just letting muscle memory handle the riding is another way to progress.

About Betty Mountain Girl

Woman Riding Mountain BikeBetty first fell in love with biking chasing her brothers around their city block in tights and a skirt. Since then she’s taken to the trails more than the road, but continues to ride in a skirt. She likes: racing people on the trail who don’t know that they’re in a race, wind in her hair, mud on her legs. She dislikes: the feeling of wet grass when wearing sandles, slugs on the tent in the morning and wearing panty hose.

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