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Old 06-01-05, 03:48 PM   #1
Phatman
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Roadie frustration

I am a cat 4 roadie who recently tried getting into mountain biking. I work at a shop, a after building up several neat mountain bikes, i decided that it would be cool to give mountainbiking a try. so I outfitted my "round campus" SS mountain bike with knobbies and went out on the trail with a few guys from work.

I quickly found out though that I am in far better shape than 90% of the guys that I ride with, and thus can keep up with the big boys so to speak. my problem is that I have almost no technical skills whatsoever except for the clipless-equipped bunnyhop.

I ended up falling and breaking my wrist monday while on a ride. I was up with the hard core mountainbikers, and they took a tricky line over this bridge. I had been following these fellas lines for the last hour and a half, so w/o hesitation I went on this bridge, my tire got stuck in a rut, and I fell off, into the stream below, maybe a 2 foot drop down. I slammed my head into a rock, my helmet did its job, and so the damages were limited to a broken scaphoid bone in my wrist and 17 stitches total on my face.

It was extremely frustrating to be in my situation. I am very fit, but I am lacking in skills. To ride with the people with no skills would probably be benificial, b/c we would ride less technical trails, but by god, they are sooooo slow.

so anyway, I've got 8-12 weeks of recovery time to look forward to, perhaps the slow guys will be able to keep up by then.

but has anyone ever really gone through this before with a roadie to mtn transition?
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Old 06-01-05, 04:24 PM   #2
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Hahaha, same thing man, only the injuries weren't quite as bad.

During my beginnings of MTBing a riding buddy once described me as 'like an old muscle car, really fast but doesn't handle worth a crap'. I'd brutalize guys I rode with on climbs, and then become the object of much gawking when I had a close encounter of the tree/rock/dirt kind. Stick with it man, you'll get it worked out. Sorry about the wrist though. When are you going to be back in the saddle?
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Old 06-01-05, 04:29 PM   #3
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Originally Posted by Snuffleupagus
Hahaha, same thing man, only the injuries weren't quite as bad.

During my beginnings of MTBing a riding buddy once described me as 'like an old muscle car, really fast but doesn't handle worth a crap'. I'd brutalize guys I rode with on climbs, and then become the object of much gawking when I had a close encounter of the tree/rock/dirt kind. Stick with it man, you'll get it worked out. Sorry about the wrist though. When are you going to be back in the saddle?
8-12 weeks for the mtn bike, 5-6 for the road (can ride w/ cast). the worst part is that I can only type w/ one hand, I'm getting pretty fast at that, though.
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Old 06-01-05, 04:38 PM   #4
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there's nothing like saddle time to make you better....

some suggestions:

find a technical but short trail, with a number of things at or above your limit. ride sections of the trail until you clear them or decide that it's not the day for clearing them.

ride in the front of the group and find your own line. when learning how to mtbike, i got into more trouble following other folks lines than by doing anything else. sometimes you'll pick a harder way, but you've really got to go with your own flow.

slap the ground with your hands - planting them into the ground breaks bones (as you're well aware, and maybe couldn't avoid anyhow). i don't know how to teach this besides falling more or working on some martial art where you learn to fall and are repeatedly thrown to the ground for practice.

ymmv
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Old 06-01-05, 04:39 PM   #5
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Im definitely considering a road bike for the coming off-season. I know alot of roadies that also mtb and are in kick ass shape. Thats what I need.
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Old 06-01-05, 05:00 PM   #6
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Awesome avatar.

I don't know if slapping the ground is the way I would describe a proper fall. I would say use your hands only help you roll. Planting is a definite no-no.

If you live in an urban area, practice your skills by riding on painted lines or on the edge of sidewalks to get used to riding slow and straight. Ride up onto and off of sidewalks smoothly to get used to small obstacles on the trails and use short sets of stairs to build your confidence. There's a wheelchair ramp in front of the building where I work that takes a sharp switchback in the middle. I think my balance has gotten a lot better just negotiating that corner when I ride my bike to work.
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Old 06-01-05, 05:04 PM   #7
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Yikes, hope you have a speedy recovery. I also have the clipless bunny hop down-pat, but no other skills at all.
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Old 06-01-05, 05:04 PM   #8
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Try riding on edges of sidewalks(where safe of course), down small flights of stairs( I started out at 4 stairs), off sidewalks. Practice doing bunnyhops in the grass where it won't hurt so much if you fall.

For sand/mud/trees, I would say you just have to go out and ride. If(or when) you fall, try to hold your hands in close to your body and land on a shoulder and roll. Thats what I do and it has worked fairly well. My shoulders get bruised and scarred, but I figure it's better than breaking my hand/wrist right?
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Old 06-01-05, 05:07 PM   #9
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Sorry to hear about your wrist but skill comes with time on the trail. It doesn't have to be about being fast all the time.Mtnbiking is more than strong legs and good lungs.
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Old 06-01-05, 06:05 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by troie
Im definitely considering a road bike for the coming off-season. I know alot of roadies that also mtb and are in kick ass shape. Thats what I need.
you definitly should. with mtb, it is necessary to coast in a lot of places, and absolutly pound away in others, so you dont get an even workout. I really think the two compliment each other, mtb for handling on slick surfaces , upper body and muscular strength, and road for cardiovascular strength and endurance. By restricting myself, I think that I was leaving holes in my fitness and riding ability. when I heal, I'll probably spend most of my offseason working w/ a mtb, then add in the road cycling a bit in late november.
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Old 06-01-05, 06:12 PM   #11
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Awesome avatar.

I don't know if slapping the ground is the way I would describe a proper fall. I would say use your hands only help you roll. Planting is a definite no-no.
I know..the avatar is pretty freakin cool

anyway, this crash happened so fast, I totally wasnt thinking about how to fall. I went up on the bridge, which was 4 logs layed parallel, my tire went into the gap, and before I knew it I was on the ground going "ohhhh...I'm bleeding...I'm in a creek" It seems like all of my road crashes happen in slow-mo, and the worst I've had is a scrape or two and a cracked helmet.

The two guys in front of me had gone over the bridge, I didn't even see the easier line that cut through a shallow spot in the water. walking back, they were all like, "yea man, thats the 'carnage bridge'"

and btw, If anyone knows central MD, this was at avalon...
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Old 06-01-05, 06:26 PM   #12
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One thing you can do, and I fell into this habit when I switched from road to mtn, is lower your saddle. Without even thinking, I'm sure you have it pretty high in order to get the correct amount of leg extension. This is great when your pounding on some easy single track or a fire road but when you get on technical downhills or just plan technical riding, you need to have the saddle down and out of the way a little bit so you can move your body weight around.
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Old 06-01-05, 06:47 PM   #13
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Originally Posted by HammerTheHill
One thing you can do, and I fell into this habit when I switched from road to mtn, is lower your saddle. Without even thinking, I'm sure you have it pretty high in order to get the correct amount of leg extension. This is great when your pounding on some easy single track or a fire road but when you get on technical downhills or just plan technical riding, you need to have the saddle down and out of the way a little bit so you can move your body weight around.
I think he'll feel a little more akward with the seat really low, coming from the road...maybe drop it a little, but going slammed seat right away is gonna throw his balance off a little (or at least it did for me in the beginning).
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Old 06-01-05, 06:57 PM   #14
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I recently made the transition in the opposite direction (MTB to road). For a roadie trying dirt for the first couple times, I would suggest finding a good, short technical loop that you can ride multiple times in one outting. In addition, riding on your own I think would be very helpful. You're not worried about keeping up with a group or showing your legs and lungs and can focus more in riding through various trail puzzles. I really like finding new ways through a tech section of a trail, whether new or old. Don't be afraid to bail on something, walk back through the section and try again. Even if you don't clean it in that ride, you still have seen it more than once for the next time you ride that particular trail.

Hope you have a speedy recovery and welcome to the dark side.
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Old 06-01-05, 07:44 PM   #15
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i do a little of both, but am much more serious about mtn bking. nonetheless, i have only been riding about 2yrs now.

i have to agree that riding alone is helpful. i rode alone about 70% of the time my first year. i would set the release on my clipless pedals as light as it would go, and just plow through. this way you can eject when you need to, but still have the advantage of clipless. just keep hitting stunts over and over until you learn the method to clear them. remember, though, (all macho bravado aside) this is not road biking - if you are riding aggressive trails, it is not uncommon to fall or have to clip out from time to time - no shame there. i ride with a mixed group of riders - some new and some experts who kick butt, but i have seen all of them fall on more than one occasion. no matter how good you are skinnies, log jams, jumps, drops, big roots, logs, etc. will always find a way to eat your lunch if you ride them enough.

don't give up

i feel your pain
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Old 06-01-05, 08:02 PM   #16
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Did you get an aerodynamic carbon cast.....you roadies and your light stuff........HAHAHAHA
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Old 06-01-05, 08:05 PM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Phatman
8-12 weeks for the mtn bike, 5-6 for the road (can ride w/ cast). the worst part is that I can only type w/ one hand, I'm getting pretty fast at that, though.
There are plenty of people that type with one hand while surfing the internet. LOL
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Old 06-01-05, 08:19 PM   #18
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If you really want to add to your workouts get a single speed.
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Old 06-01-05, 08:42 PM   #19
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My advice to roadies is to learn how your body position affects your handling. I know a lot of roadies that don't know how to "ride" a mountain bike. They are too stiff, too rigid. On a road bike, you get on and pedal and pedal, turn occasionally, stand to sprint. That's it.

On a mountain bike, you are all over the bike. Seated but leaned forward when climbing. Hanging your butt off the back of the saddle when descending. Leaning back over loose dirt. Dropping the ouside leg, pointing the inside knee when slamming through a turn.

You've got to be fluid on your bike. Learn to get off the saddle and dance on the bike.

Another tip. Learn to bunny hop without the clipless pedals. Platform pedals for the first 6 months of riding off-road would be my recommendation. Learn to use your bike and your body, then go back to the clipless for pedaling efficiency.

Go to your local BMX track and have some kid teach you the proper way to bunny hop (or J-Hop) w/o the clipless. You'll appreciate this when your skill gets to the point where you want to start jumping your bike.
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Old 06-01-05, 08:55 PM   #20
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I can't say much more than a2. Roadies typically have a stiffer body position with 0 flow. The bikes fit soo big that they aren't using their legs in the same manner as a mtbiker. Body position is the key in mountain biking. Check out even the best xc guys and they have some body english, the best 'flow' riders have tonnes of body english, their bodies are bikes move like seperate machines but both work together.

Another key is your upperbody. A real trail gets rough and technical and you really need lots of upper body strength to maintain speed and flow through rough stuff. That ability to use the bike, upper and lower body all while pedalling is what makes it a difficult thing to master IF you want to maintain speed.

I think for the winter I will be getting a roadie or maybe a cx, I am hoping my ability to move on a bike will help with the fact I have very poor endurance ( know it won't )

BTW I thought you had a mtbike? I could have sworn you used to spend time in the mtb forum
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Old 06-01-05, 09:01 PM   #21
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Oh and one more thing you will learn although painful.

Crashing hurts. Every ride I crash. I am always pushing myself and crash often. But by crashing often it becomes second nature and you become a better crasher. Your ability to climb obviously outweighs your other abilities/handling skills on a bike. Learn to crash and flow, and you will smoke most riders out there ...with your already kickass "up" endurance

[edit]
One other aspect that likely differs from roadies but mtbikers kind of stole from bmxers and skaters is the idea of sessioning. At least out here this is a very popular thing to do. Find a technical section on a trail and session it, ride the section (or walk) and turn around and do it again, until you get it. Its the best way to get good fast. Its also why some of us like lift assisted riding. I can hit a secion 20 times in 8 hours and really master it, where a xc guy (unless it is a small loop) would take 20 days to to the same thing. Sessioning really helps, it doesn't allow for a full ride for example, but it is fun and key to getting better.
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Old 06-02-05, 10:37 AM   #22
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Maelstrom's got it: nothing is better at making you better at coming out of crashes unscathed than practice! You don't want to think about falling, you want your body to do the right things. Sometimes, you'll have space and momentum for rolling. Sometimes, slapping out can really help (esp with padded gloves). And sometimes you get lucky and fly off your bike, land on your feet and watch your bike tumble by. But mostly it hurts a bit and you move on.
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Old 06-02-05, 01:38 PM   #23
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Somebody mentioned martial arts as a way to learn how to fall properly, and they may be right. I know I learned how to fall without getting seriously hurt by playing soccer. After a while, it gets instinctive and you don't even need to think about it. Heck, I remember a crash where I was focusing more on twisting my bike with my feet to land drivetrain side up as it was flying over my head than on how I was going to to land. I hit the ground, rolled to a stop, then jumped up to pick gravel out of my skin and look for damage.
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Old 06-03-05, 08:25 PM   #24
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Sometimes, no matter how much skill and practice you have, that rut will still suck.
I mean suck you into it, and spit you out with rocks embedded in your helment, plant life embedded in your flesh, and a long ride back down the mountain using your shirt for a tournaquet so that you don't pass out from loss of blood before the 60-mile car trip to the nearest hospital. Oh, wait. Maybe that's just me.
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Old 06-03-05, 08:31 PM   #25
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pfft dont land on your shoulders or you'll be going to the hospital for a broken collar bone (doesn't feel good, I know). There aint no correct way to fall just close your eyes and hope they open again
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