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  1. #1
    Newbie Girl Binda's Avatar
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    Wow - my technical skills are lacking, bigtime!

    I just bought a mtn. bike this spring (about a month and a half ago?). I've been doing riding on local paved bike trails, and the occasional snowmobile trail, just trying to get my legs and lungs in a little bit of shape for the summer.

    I'm taking a mtn. biking course through school, and today was the first time i've gone out on singletrack. What an eye opener! I didn't take any diggers, but it wasn't pretty....at all. We hit some pretty rocky areas, and lots of roots - with short climbs that have both of those scattered throughout. lots of beach sand also.

    How do you guys work on your skills on roots, rocks, and going over/around stuff you come across? What about beach sand? Just practice? Any tips?

    One thing though - I think I'm seriously addicted, cuz I had a blast. So much better than riding on pavement!

    - belinda
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  2. #2
    Banned. Jason222's Avatar
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    Bigger tires helps a lot. Learn to bunny hop over small obstacles as well.

  3. #3
    Canon fiend MadMan2k's Avatar
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    Roots, if they aren't too tall, you should be able to just pick the front up and ride right over. Rocks are pretty tricky, but it's mostly practice there. Just get used to riding a lot of different terrain, and get used to skidding with your back wheel (I think that helps handling on loose terrain somehow). You might also try 'trackstanding', balancing while standing up on the pedals and holding still.

  4. #4
    Ride it, don't fondle it! Wheel Doctor's Avatar
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    The more you ride the better you get, the more you ride the better you get. If your afraid to crash n' burn you will be too tentative and lack momentum when you need it. Attack hills and approach technical sections fearlessly. I often say to myself "What the hell you only live once"

  5. #5
    bac
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    Quote Originally Posted by Binda
    How do you guys work on your skills on roots, rocks, and going over/around stuff you come across? What about beach sand? Just practice? Any tips?
    Time in the saddle will help the most. However, one good way to practice is to do the same technical section several times, and only then move on to the next tricky section. Your ride won't be as fast, but you will learn, so future rides will be much faster.

    Also, try to stay loose, and use your arms, and legs to take some of the shock. Also - don't look where you don't want to go! Look @ where you WANT to go, and your bike, and body will follow. Stare @ that tree, or sharp rock for just a second, and you're already into it.

    Good luck. It is very addicting!

  6. #6
    Newbie erhan's Avatar
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    First, practice your skills on easier trails. Always look where you want to go (not where you don't want to), balance your weight, relax, learn how to control braking, always choose correct gears, learn bunny hopping... Don't let a few obstacles scare, or frustrate you. Always keep some reasonable speed to attack them. Your bike can handle much more than you think. And finally, practice, practice, practice...

    Have fun!

  7. #7
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    Get Ned Overend's book. They can be had for about $7.00 plus shipping from Amazon. His book is the very readable. His video is good too, but not as detailed in the descriptions as the book.

    If you're going to practice, practice,------- it's best to practice the correct technique. Otherwise, you'll have to unlearn bad habits.

    Al

  8. #8
    Ride it, don't fondle it! Wheel Doctor's Avatar
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    Another suggestion, Ride with someone with handling skills and experience, if you can. I'm a bit more skilled than my riding mates and I help them by pointing out stuff in a non critical way. I rode some with a guy who was way better than me. I asked a lot of questions and he rode in a way as to allow me to stay in site of him. He also watched me take some hills, log piles and technical sections. He then pointed out what I was doing correctly and made suggestions to improve what was causing me problems. I have found over the years, wether riding road, MTB, Cyclocross or fixed, riding with the more seasoned and skilled improved my ability.

  9. #9
    Gravity Is Yer Friend dirtbikedude's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Binda
    ...I'm taking a mtn. biking course through school, and today was the first time i've gone out on singletrack. What an eye opener! I didn't take any diggers, but it wasn't pretty....at all. We hit some pretty rocky areas, and lots of roots - with short climbs that have both of those scattered throughout. lots of beach sand also...- belinda

    All the advice so far is good stuff and as stated, practice. Since no one else asked, if you are taking a mtb course why not ask the instructor to show you how? It would not only benifit you but the other riders in the course as well. If he/she is taking you on rides with obstacals as you mentioned I would think part of the course would be an explination and demonstration of how to properly clear said obstacals. Just my thoughts.


  10. #10
    Senior Member GreyGoat's Avatar
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    another book I like even better than Ned's is "Mastering Mountain Bike Skills: techniques to excell in all riding styles " by Brian Lopes and Lee McCormack.
    This book rocks! Shows great illustrations and is much more current(ie 2005 vs Ned's 1999).. Great book! You want it, check it out at a book store and you will agree.. .
    I have bunches of different books and this one stands alone..

  11. #11
    I Am Online Now! G-Unit's Avatar
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    That's great that you have a class that you can take. My big fear is doing a faceplant right over the handlebars.
    I rock peas on my head but don’t call me a pea head.
    Bees on my head but don’t call me a bee head.
    Bruce Lee’s on my head but don’t call me a Lee head.
    Now please excuse me, I gots to get my tree fed.

  12. #12
    Old School Rad mtnbiker66's Avatar
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    Time in the saddle and riding with better riders will get you where you want to be.Don't forget to have fun while your learning.
    Like a circus monkey on a stolen Harley......

  13. #13
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    Spend any spare time you have riding tiny circles around your yard/apartment/block, etc. Ride over every curb, stick, or any obstacle as often as you can.

    Even if you just have one small curb near you, ride up and down it any time you get the chance.

    When I was just starting to ride, I set up a tiny obstacle course in my yard that helped a lot. It was ridiculously simple; something like:
    - Down driveway to sidewalk
    - Drop off curb
    - Very tight u-turn in the street (switchback practice!)
    - Wheelie up and over curb
    - Across grass through narrow side gate (tree practice!)
    - Up onto patio (6" high concrete slab)
    - Try to stop completely for a second on patio without putting feet down.
    - Drop off patio back onto the grass
    - Up and over brick divider between grass and pine straw
    - Tight u-turn in pinestraw
    - Back over brick divider
    - Out gate and onto driveway
    - Repeat a bazillion times, in the dark.

  14. #14
    pnj
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    Akak has good suggestions. you don't need to be in the woods to practice.

    I just wanted to add, stay loose. when you come to bumpy stuff, stand up. get your butt out of the saddle and let the bike move over the bumps.

    for a lot of stuff, roots, logs, etc, speed helps. not mach 1 type speed but enough to keep your momentum up.

    stand up and lean back on desents.

    ride with people that are better then you.

    have fun!
    4130

  15. #15
    Newbie Girl Binda's Avatar
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    Thanks for all the suggestions guys!

    One thing I noticed today when I went out and road is how much I lean on my handlebars, and I think it might be hindering me a lot. I tried to focus on it, and put more weight in my legs, and it seemed like the bike was easier to manuver - should that be true?

    I've been downloading videos like a fiend, and just ordered Overend's book. Summer may just be too short this year.

    And Re: flipping over the handlebars - I'm sure it'll happen eventually. Not a matter of if, but when, you'll fall, I would imagine.

    - belinda
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  16. #16
    Senior Member sarsparilla's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Binda
    And Re: flipping over the handlebars - I'm sure it'll happen eventually. Not a matter of if, but when, you'll fall, I would imagine.
    Sooo true.

    As others have stated, saddle time is the best way to learn. It's hard for me to take something that I read in a book and apply it when there's a rock garden right in front of me. The more you ride the more comfortable you will become in the technical situations.

    Also, sand's the worst! I hate it. Just stay seated so you have weight over our rear wheel so it doesn't slip out on you when you go to pedal.

  17. #17
    THIS BIKE'S 4 U !!!! Killer B's Avatar
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    Leaning on the bars is a definite No-No.... You'll learn real fast NOT to do that as soon as you get on a couple of DH's.
    Life's Short, Enjoy it !!!! ‹^› ‹(•¿•)› ‹^›
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  18. #18
    Gravity Is Yer Friend dirtbikedude's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Binda
    One thing I noticed today when I went out and road is how much I lean on my handlebars, and I think it might be hindering me a lot. I tried to focus on it, and put more weight in my legs, and it seemed like the bike was easier to manuver - should that be true?

    - belinda
    What bike do you have? If it has a steep head angle (more race oriented) it will set you over the bars more. Also, is the seat at the right hight? If you have it adjusted as you would on a road bike (legs almost stright when the pedal is at the 6 O'clock position), then you will want to lower it a bit. On a mtb the seat is run a little lower so you have more control over obstacls and technical terrain. Hopefully this is all that is needed other wise you are looking at getting some new parts to get you in a comfortable/proper position.


  19. #19
    Newbie Girl Binda's Avatar
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    I did orinally have my saddle set at roading length - I fixed that the day after I went out w/the class. I didn't realize how much more control I would have with it lowered. I lowered it a little, and may lower it more. right now it already feels like its super-low, but I'm sure I'll get used to it.

    I have a fisher Wahoo - don't know what it's 'oriented' to other than my budget.

    - belinda
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    Never underestimate the predictibility of stupidity...
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  20. #20
    Mad bike riding scientist cyccommute's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by sarsparilla
    Sooo true.

    As others have stated, saddle time is the best way to learn. It's hard for me to take something that I read in a book and apply it when there's a rock garden right in front of me. The more you ride the more comfortable you will become in the technical situations.

    Also, sand's the worst! I hate it. Just stay seated so you have weight over our rear wheel so it doesn't slip out on you when you go to pedal.
    And even with saddle time face plants happen.

    I looked at the hole and said to my self, "Don't go there! You'll crash!", just as my front wheel eased into it. My momentum was low so as the front wheel came to a complete halt, the back of the bike rose up in the air in a perfect nose wheelie. The only problem is that I don't know the first thing about nose wheelies!

    As I stood in that nose wheelie, I remembered reading something in a magazine once about how to do them so I started to review the back issues. Ah, there it is the article on … Paola Pezzo. What a woman! Great looks. Rides a bike like someone possessed. Wears wonderfully outrageous clothes … Wait you moron! YOU are in a nose wheelie and about to crash and you are fantasizing about some Italian chick! Focus!

    Oh, yeah. The nose wheelie. Okay, here it is: The recipe for So Good Skillet. It's a family camping favorite. It's easy to do and taste so good. All you need is some hamburger, some beef vegetable soup, carrots… Hey dip! You're starting to list to the port side. You are going to hit the ground and hard if you don't do something to save this ship! All you can think about is your stomach.

    Oh, right. My stomach. Boy I could really go for some pizza right about now. Homemade and hot from the oven. Ever since we solved the failure to rise problem that pizza has been getting better and better...

    By now the list had become too pronounced to save me from turning turtle so my feet decide to take over and save us all by jumping overboard. Unfortunately, they were securely clamped to the pedals and could not rescue us. Suddenly, my brain decided it had had enough with trying to figure out how to push the back of the bike down and decide to abandon ship with the feet but the feet were still trapped. Finally, after what seemed an eternity (only about a second), still tied to the masthead, I sank to the ground with a mighty thump!

    That's what I love about bicycling: The time to contemplate the world around you, the grace of the sport, and learning new skills - like first aid.
    Stuart Black
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  21. #21
    Canon fiend MadMan2k's Avatar
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    Great story, sure made me smile.

  22. #22
    Newbie Girl Binda's Avatar
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    Well, my first superman impersonation came earlier than I thought it would. I bit the dirt today, over the handlebars.

    Only a few little scratches though, as I was going slow when it happened.

    we were coming down a sorta steep trail that was mostly sand, and they had just graded the road, so there were mounds of sand on the end of the trail. I failed to pick my front tire up at all, so when I rolled over said hill of sand (I was too worried about sliding in all the loose stuff) my front tire came to a halt in that soft edge, and the rest of my body didn't.

    Oh well. Still was fun.

    Fall #1 since I was about 10. I'm sure I'll lose count by the end of the summer......

    - b
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  23. #23
    pnj
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    remember to stay loose! I fall everytime I ride my bike but learned long ago the 'correct' way to fall so it helps to eliminate injurys. sure, I may get a bruise or scrap but that is much better then a torn ligament or broken bone..

    don't forget that you can wear pads too. they allow you to fall over and over and over again.
    4130

  24. #24
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    Congratulations on your first Superman! Since you were able to get up (as evidenced by your most recent post) you now know that falling isnt so bad.
    Just remember...momentum is a big key to XC riding. The slower you go the harder it will be to recover from all the rocks and roots.
    Keep your elbows up, shift your weight and keep your eyes scanning for the best line. Your bike is designed to cruise right over the majority of the obstacles you'll encounter, so don't try to dodge everything...you'll just end up getting yourself way off line.

    Have fun! The more you ride the more addictive it gets.

  25. #25
    Light Makes Right GV27's Avatar
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    There ya go! That's one of the most important things. Not being afraid.

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