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where to start learning and exploring MTB

Old 07-17-17, 09:00 PM
  #1  
moogyboy
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where to start learning and exploring MTB

hey folks

I've posted mostly in other forums here so far as my interest has been in fixing up cheapies for fun and convenience. (I successfully upgraded a thrift store Huffy MTBSO into a passable neighborhood commuter, don't laugh.) Now, though, I'm starting to return to a longtime latent curiosity and wondering about taking a stab at some basic mountain biking, ie on an actual off-road trail with scary stuff to go around or over.

I've been doing a lot of reading up and watching YouTube tutorials and such and it's all such an overwhelming rush of information--good information--that I don't know where to start as far as basic skills, training as in who to teach me vs. going it alone, whether I have the fitness and body type for it, etc. I'm not particularly interested in racing or mega-technical riding, at least not yet; I just want to be skilled enough to get through a moderately challenging circuit without panicking and breaking my neck, and take it from there. I'm not a former BMXer or trick rider or roadie, if anything I suppose I'm a just a very modestly experienced urban-commuter type who loves bikes, learning, and challenges.

Enough back-story. I'd be grateful for any insights on basic skills I should concentrate on before I try to hit a trail, who/where to look for mentoring, fitness, any other prerequisite type stuff I should be thinking about. The question about which bike to learn on is a whole other topic, but I gather that my Huffy isn't it, nor is the Hyper Havoc FS that will probably be my next fixer-upper. Probably I will hunt on Craigslist for a used "real MTB" when I find work again.

Physically, I'm 5'9", 260 lb (again, don't laugh, I'm more stocky than fat), 43 years old, not really much in upper body strength but fairly strong legs, and my sciatica and middle-back act up sometimes (sucks getting old).

I will now shut up. Over to you guys. Thanks so much for your help.

cheers

Billy S.
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Old 07-17-17, 09:16 PM
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The best way to get started is to join a club. A good club will accept you as a newb. The best way to learn mtn biking is to go mtn biking. It's a whole new world and has its beauties. It's not like roading, it's more all out, then nothing, then all out again. The better equipment you can afford the more you'll enjoy it. And no, a walmart bike won't last long on moderate trails. It depends on how serious you get, but a dual suspension bike is nearly required if you're going to tackle technical trails. You can get a decent duallie for around $1,000, less for a used bike.
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Old 07-18-17, 01:07 PM
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I'm 62 and still shred some serious trails so don't hide behind age. I'm also faster uphill than a lot of guys half my age. Your weight will make it difficult to ride much uphill until you gradually shed some of it. In other words, your technical skills may exceed your physical ability for awhile. Make this venture part of a shaping up program.

I don't know anything about mountain biking in Ohio. Get any mtb but preferably a good hard tail ($1500+) or, if you can afford it, a decent FSR ($2500+). Scope out some old forestry roads. Try green circle trails. Try and meet someone at a fairly similar skill level so you have a partner and can 'cross-motivate' (or a club if one exists). Main thing is: get out and do it - 2 hours (min.) 3Xs a week (min.). Your skills will build and you can check YouTube for some good pointers geared to your level.
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Old 07-19-17, 05:35 AM
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Originally Posted by moogyboy View Post
Physically, I'm 5'9", 260 lb (again, don't laugh, I'm more stocky than fat), 43 years old, not really much in upper body strength but fairly strong legs, and my sciatica and middle-back act up sometimes (sucks getting old).
You have some back trouble, so it'll be helpful to learn to take the bumps with your legs. Visit a BMX park and watch how the people ride, and note their body position on their bikes. They are out of their seats and in the attack position whenever the terrain gets rough.
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Old 07-19-17, 12:58 PM
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One of the first things I did w hen I was new was to get on Youtube and Searched "Mountain biking tips". There are several really good channels with entire series of information. It's a good way to get some basic principals in your head. You'll need practice on the trail to realize it, but it certainly helps.
Bike groups, meetups, and stuff like that is a great way to get out with others too.

Your first few rides, just take it slow and easy, but try to get out at least two or three easy rides per week. The amount of time you put in, with rest in between, will greatly affect how fast you learn. Once a month and you'll loose confidence and familiarity in between sessions.
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Old 07-19-17, 04:15 PM
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Rays indoor bike park is a modest drive away in Cleveland -- you can have all the fun you can stand there and learn a lot
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Old 07-21-17, 09:26 AM
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It's a great sport. Started in my late early 40's, and still going strong more than 10 years later.

Looking at youtube videos can be helpful, as it at least gives you a basic idea of what to work up to, but you really just need to ride. When you start a lot of things are going to be too hard/overwhelming (that is if you're anything like I was), and you'll walk some parts of the trail. But if you keep on riding a couple of times a week you'll be amazed at how quickly you develop the skills needed to ride at an intermediate level. Also, putting on road/rail trail miles can really help get those legs toned up.

I'd suggest heading up to Alum Creek, where they have a nice mtb trail system. Phase 1 is the easier, with Phase 2 being for more advanced riders. Here is the state park brochure with the trails:

https://parks.ohiodnr.gov/Portals/par...ektrailmap.pdf

But these days there are better places to get your mtb maps if you use a smart phone. Here's the link to the mtbproject page for Alum Creek:

https://www.mtbproject.com/trail/4080717

You can also use trailforks.com:

https://www.singletracks.com/bike-tr...k-phase-i.html

Or singletracks (requires membership, but you can get a free one by submitting useful data).

Check out your local club - COMBO. They may have group rides focusing on new riders.

Good luck.

Steve Z
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Old 07-22-17, 12:36 AM
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Learn the Attack Position--look up Lee McCormick/Lee Loves Bikes. It's the foundational position that all mountain biking is based upon--going over bumps, cornering, braking, climbing, and more. It's what we teach all our NICA student-athletes. Have fun!
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Old 07-22-17, 05:58 AM
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moogyboy
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Originally Posted by swampboy62 View Post
It's a great sport. Started in my late early 40's, and still going strong more than 10 years later.
...
I'd suggest heading up to Alum Creek, where they have a nice mtb trail system. Phase 1 is the easier, with Phase 2 being for more advanced riders. Here is the state park brochure with the trails
...
Check out your local club - COMBO. They may have group rides focusing on new riders.

Good luck.

Steve Z
Great info, Steve, thanks! I definitely am aware of Alum Creek although I've only ever driven past (a very few times) and never visited. When I'm ready I will definitely go there and check the two Phases out. I believe COMBO maintains the trails, I will look into joining them for classes or rides when I have a suitable bike.

Overall I don't know that I need or want to progress past Blue trails; the whole freeride and DH stuff doesn't appeal to me much as a potential rider although it is kinda fun to watch on YouTube. (Or not...I think I ran across too many nasty crash videos involving badass jumps gone wrong.) Seems like there is a lot of suitable trail in beautiful (and largely flat) Ohio according to mtbproject.com, although Alum Creek Phase 1 will probably be plenty for me to chew on for a good long while. I don't mind keeping all my rubber on the rocks all the time, or as close to it as I can.
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Old 07-22-17, 06:06 AM
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Originally Posted by DMC707 View Post
Rays indoor bike park is a modest drive away in Cleveland -- you can have all the fun you can stand there and learn a lot
I looked up a couple of YT videos filmed at Ray's...my jaw just dropped. Absolutely brilliant! Looks like a converted former auto factory or something. But man, how am I gonna get through that? What's the word...gnarly? If they have an easier section or two for wimp newbies like me then put me down for an afternoon there. :-)
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Old 07-22-17, 06:21 AM
  #11  
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I know I said that bike selection would be for another thread, but I just had to briefly give my thoughts. At the moment, shelling out any amount of money for a competent bike is out of the question, seeing as I'm currently between jobs, so this mountain bike experiment will likely have to wait at least until next spring. The Huffy is definitely not suitable. The Hyper FS I rescued from the garbage probably isn't either. I will most likely either search Craigslist for a used hardtail--I'm seeing lots of used Specialized's and Treks in the $150-350 range-- or go with an entry level BikesDirect offering. I might check out the LBS's in my neighborhood but I expect even the entry level bikes there to be beyond my expected budget assuming I actually find work by next spring. (For one thing, part of that newfound income will need to go towards an operational automobile to get me to the trail...yes, I'm that bad off.) Since I'm not planning to go the heavy duty 10 foot drops and 20 foot somersaults route, I'm hoping my choice of bike won't have to be quite so demanding or expensive. We shall see.
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Old 07-24-17, 12:31 PM
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Originally Posted by moogyboy View Post
I know I said that bike selection would be for another thread, but I just had to briefly give my thoughts. At the moment, shelling out any amount of money for a competent bike is out of the question, seeing as I'm currently between jobs, so this mountain bike experiment will likely have to wait at least until next spring. The Huffy is definitely not suitable. The Hyper FS I rescued from the garbage probably isn't either. I will most likely either search Craigslist for a used hardtail--I'm seeing lots of used Specialized's and Treks in the $150-350 range-- or go with an entry level BikesDirect offering. I might check out the LBS's in my neighborhood but I expect even the entry level bikes there to be beyond my expected budget assuming I actually find work by next spring. (For one thing, part of that newfound income will need to go towards an operational automobile to get me to the trail...yes, I'm that bad off.) Since I'm not planning to go the heavy duty 10 foot drops and 20 foot somersaults route, I'm hoping my choice of bike won't have to be quite so demanding or expensive. We shall see.
That is definitely a workable plan. Keep your eyes out for an entry level brand name bike a couple of years old, take it out, and ride the heck out of it while you're learning the basic skills. If you get into it, then look to upgrade. I started with a Trek 820 steel frame way back when, and that heavy, basic bike was perfect for me to bash around and learn to ride.

Also check out the trails east of C'bus at Heath - I think it's called Star Hill Trails. Never been there myself, but have heard some good things about it. I think there is a facebook page for the trails.

Steve Z
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