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But... where did you go to learn all this stuff? Noob

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But... where did you go to learn all this stuff? Noob

Old 10-22-13, 10:26 AM
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MillieKY
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But... where did you go to learn all this stuff? Noob

So I commute to work on my hybrid bike and I ride the MUP for fun. Last summer a friend and I thought we'd try the local "easy" mtb trail. Because we were told it was super easy we didn't worry too much about being prepared. Turns out it was an intermediate kinda trail. Maybe easy for anyone with experience, but we spent the whole time terrified. We both crashed. Twice.

It's taken this long to want to try again (I'm thinking I'll by a decent used mtb on craigslist to start) but I don't know WHERE to start. I can read the beginner tip thread as much as I want but once I'm rolling downhill into a hairpin turn on dirt I'm not sure how much I'll be able to think, ha. So where did you learn? Parking lot? Gravel road? Did you learn on your way down Whistler??

Thanks!
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Old 10-22-13, 10:31 AM
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Practice riding wheelies, bunnyhops, trackstands, etc. on a soccer/football field, or other flat patch of grass.

Out on the trail, keep your speed in check, then gradually increase speed each time you ride the trail.
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Old 10-22-13, 12:19 PM
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We all we noobs at one point. My advantage is growing up in the desert SW and spent as much time riding through the desert as on the roads. Some of the crew have backgrounds in BMX and Motocross. But they had to start somewhere. A Hardtail is often a good first bike. You can get a lighter frame and better components on a hardtail (front suspension fork only) vs a fully suspended bike.

As Lester says, watch your speed and get some practice in. Mountain biking is a riot.

Did we learn on our way down Whistler? That would be like jumping to the NFL from Junior High! I hurt all over just thinking about that!
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Old 10-22-13, 07:11 PM
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Trial by fire, over here. I had the same experience, where my friends brought me on a beginner trail that was...well, easy once I had some riding experience under my belt. Did so miserably that I think they were convinced that that was my first and last mountain bike ride. So I went out a bunch on my own, just found a couple trails and sessioned the tech parts on my own over and over again (of the trails I was going to, that first beginner trail was the easiest, but solo, I had the option to ride slower and to session stuff). I'd go with my friends to learn new trails, then hit them on my own when I had time. Then sometimes I'd mess around in the parking lot when I got back to my car after a ride (still do, actually). When I was confident enough that I didn't feel like I'd be wasting my money, I took one of Lee McCormack's classes.
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Old 10-22-13, 09:05 PM
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Never really stopped riding from when I was young and raced BMX so that helped a lot. One thing that helps with a lot of friends I get into the sport is take them around the city and start with little things like getting comfortable riding off of curbs, then graduate to a couple stairs, etc. Do not be discouraged, mountain biking has a very steep learning curve but once you get it, it is an absolute blast!
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Old 10-22-13, 09:14 PM
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Got my first bike when I lived on a farm. (7y.o.) Watched "Rad"...had to learn to bunnyhop. Moved to city@ age 12. Ride around town...acid drops off ledges, etc... Switched to skateboarding. Ollie off staircases and gaps kickflips, heelflips, popshuvits, body varials, yada.

Switched back to bikes in my early 20's due to many ankle sprains. Ride my first singletrack in 1998. Kicked my butt...went back to urban. Got back on singletrack in 2004 and haven't stopped.

All of the skateboarding and urban riding fueled my hunger for riding technical trails.
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Old 10-22-13, 11:10 PM
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Originally Posted by Daspydyr View Post
Some of the crew have backgrounds in BMX and Motocross.
Haha, yup. Grew up in the golden era of the Stingray (pre-BMX) bike, so wheelies were the first thing we taught ourselves to do. Then my dad bought an 80cc trailbike for hunting and I pretty much took it over when I learned to ride. By age 12 I'd done my first race and was hooked. Spent my youth chasing any race I could get Dad to pay an entry fee for - - short track, flat track, scrambles, rough-scrambles, desert hare-and-hounds and finally motocross. Didn't get into mountain biking until I was in my mid-40s and that sucked me in too. Allowed me to make use of those dormant dirt-biking skillz but allowed me to go more places . . . quietly.

It all comes down to honing skills and being willing to step it up occasionally and progress. I like what Zephyr said about sessioning sections to learn them. That has worked well for me too. That's how I learned to boost gap jumps. I even spent one whole afternoon's practice at Sea Otter one year sessioning one jump section until I could do it - - because it scared the crap out of me and because the 'wuss-out' line was so sketchy. Paid off in the race run and felt oh-so-good when a stuck it.
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Old 10-23-13, 12:12 AM
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I'm kind of in the same boat as you, I'm getting back into biking after about 15 years of no riding, Bikes have got better and trails harder. the sport has gone a long way in that time, for the better.

One ride with a group on "intermediate" trails and well, same experience as you, Hang on for dear life, couple of bits I had to walk down and some, If I could have stopped in time, I would have walked down.

What came out of it all is the longer steam I'd put on the bike because I felt it was more comfortable was well wrong, would have never learned that by myself.
Ride with a group and learn from them, and it's a whole lot of fun.

PLAY, spend the time playing, bunny hopping, up and down curbs etc. do what's fun for you and enjoy it!
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Old 10-23-13, 03:58 AM
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Walk things you don't feel up to doing for awhile. Buy some knee and or elbow pads to gain some confidence if you like. The more you ride the more confident you will get and the more likely you will be to try things you were scared to do before. I've been doing it for a long time but I still walked a section called "Face Plant" at a new to me place a couple weeks ago.
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Old 10-23-13, 06:19 AM
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I'm no expert having just started MTB'ing this year, but I've seen very tangible improvements in my riding since I started.

I think there are some things you can only learn by actual experience hitting the trails such as how you'll react to unexpected situations or riding banked switchbacks. However, there are individual techniques you can practice off the trails. My best example would be my first time hitting a trail I completely wiped out trying to bunny hop (which I'd learned how to do in my driveway as a kid and later re-learned on my MTB) over the first log. So I youtube'd log hops and I found parallels in everyday environments and practiced on them. Parking blocks are conveniently similar to logs, curbs are handy for learning short manual drop offs, etc. Hill climbs with roots and obstacles were another I went through the same progression with and have seen great improvement.

Use prior experiences to pick out individual techniques you think you should improve on and emphatically research and practice them so they're muscle memory on the trails. Then, ride that part of the trail over and over (just don't kill yourself ). I must've hit that same log 10 times the next time I hit the same trail after practicing on parking blocks.

Finally, let yourself fail! Don't beat yourself up for it. Falling off the bike beats you up enough without the mental bashing you'll be tempted to give yourself. That's my noob2noob advice!

Edit: Oh yeah, like Lester and Daspydyr said, there is no substitute for good speed control, especially on downhill descents! Find a hill to practice on, I've found this to be one of the most important self-preservation MTB skills.

Last edited by joyota; 10-23-13 at 06:28 AM.
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Old 10-23-13, 08:02 AM
  #11  
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I started riding in my late 40's, and hadn't had any mtb experience before, so I was in a situation comparable to yours.

Looking back, I think that the biggest factor in improving is to just spend a lot of time on the bike. You want to ride a trail that has at least some features that you can't ride yet - as your skills and confidence improve they will act as a sort of 'gauge' of your progress, until you've got the skills to clean each one. I also got a lot of pointers for specific riding challenges by watching mtb skills videos on youtube, and then trying to figure out/learn how to apply them to the features that gave me trouble.

As suggested above, get some pads to protect yourself as you learn. Progress in an even curve - don't let early progress convince you to take on more difficult trails than you're ready for. You'll notice that roots and rocks that seemed impossible when you started become possible, but tough - then not so tough - and then they're easy enough that you take them in stride without worry and focus on the more difficult features that still challenge you.

Riding around town can help too - just go at it with the mindset of a mtbr. Go up and down curbs, hit as many rough spots (landscaping rocks anyone??) as you can find, ride off loading ramps - all these things are comparable to singletrack features and will help you develop/practice skills that will help you when you're on the dirt.

Have fun with it, and try not to push it so hard that you hurt yourself. I can tell you from sad experience that it can happen even if you're careful - and we don't heal as easily as we did when we were younger.

Steve Z
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Old 10-23-13, 08:48 AM
  #12  
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ride, practice, ride, practice, repeat.

riding with faster and more skilled people than yourself is a huge help - more than just riding the bike alone all the time.
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Old 10-23-13, 09:31 AM
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Don't freeze up if a fall is unavoidable. Stay loose and try to roll with the fall. Scar tissue comes with the sport. But hey, every scar usually has a good story to go with it. It happens, an often it happens at the stupidest times. But stay loose. Avoid the clipless movement for a few months.
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Old 10-24-13, 04:06 PM
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OOOOooo thanks for all the replies, guys. Lots of helpful stuff. I think it makes a difference just knowing that the "learning curve is steep" for everyone. I do love riding for utility but I'm looking forward to having some more outright fun with it. Whoo!
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Old 10-24-13, 06:07 PM
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Originally Posted by MillieKY View Post
OOOOooo thanks for all the replies, guys. Lots of helpful stuff. I think it makes a difference just knowing that the "learning curve is steep" for everyone. I do love riding for utility but I'm looking forward to having some more outright fun with it. Whoo!
There's definitely no shortage of fun to be had when it comes to mountain biking!
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Old 10-24-13, 06:42 PM
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Originally Posted by dminor View Post
Haha, yup. Grew up in the golden era of the Stingray (pre-BMX) Didn't get into mountain biking until I was in my mid-40s and that sucked me in too. Allowed me to make use of those dormant dirt-biking skillz but allowed me to go more places . . . quietly.

it scared the crap out of me and because the 'wuss-out' line was so sketchy. Paid off in the race run and felt oh-so-good when a stuck it.

You are a dangerous dude, dminor, dangerous. OR, should we call you Manuel Beastly?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Dq0-drRmvNM

YES, I do know, but the legend is more fun!
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Old 10-28-13, 11:27 AM
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I'm new to this section of the forum, just picked up a '98 Cannondale F1000 in near pristine condition (for now)

Seems like @Zyphyr11's post is perfect. This is exactly what I planned on doing. I'm not new to mountain biking, but the riding i've done has been sporadic at best, some easy trails in Connecticut, some downhill at Killington VT, nothing too consistent. The plan is to ride with friends who are much stronger riders than myself, see what I need to improve, spend my own time doing exactly that.
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Old 10-30-13, 01:09 AM
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I learned all my technique from the "Taken for granted...techniques for new riders" sticky.
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Old 10-31-13, 04:14 PM
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Originally Posted by MillieKY View Post
So I commute to work on my hybrid bike and I ride the MUP for fun. Last summer a friend and I thought we'd try the local "easy" mtb trail.
So you tried the hybrid on the trail? Fat tires help alot.

As the others say, just ease into it. Since it looks like you're coming back for more, just have fun.
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Old 10-31-13, 06:46 PM
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You only fell twice on your first ride? Not bad. But you've got a way to go to reach my 5 crashes on a 5 mile ride.
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Old 11-07-13, 08:32 PM
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Originally Posted by dbc View Post
So you tried the hybrid on the trail? Fat tires help a lot.
Yes. Yes I did. Stupid, but not so stupid that I won't try again once I'm better equipped.
To be honest, I had no idea at the time that my bike wasn't built for it. It's got 2" tires but they are not very knobby. The poor little bike had some strange creaking sounds that took a while to work out of its system.
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Old 11-19-13, 10:41 PM
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There are guys who take cyclecross bikes on trails so a hybrid's not "stupid". A proper bike for trails is a good idea though. I learned by riding and talking to more experienced riders (I've still got a way to go). The book "Mastering MTB Skills" is helpful. My #1 advice: keep the pedals level in turns and over obstacles. Take it easy at first and build up to it. Have fun!
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Old 11-20-13, 07:18 AM
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When I started mountain biking I suppose it would have been pretty scary to be in the forest near me. There such an amount of screaming, swearing, beating stuff and general grumpiness that I think my near vicinity could have been considered quite unsafe. But after one year of suffering I'm starting to get it and starting to really enjoy technical stuff. At first I hit my cranks on every stone but now somehow I magically avoid all the stones (instinct or something...). Now it's just getting better and better and by definition faster and faster. But then again I did learn fast because I'm starting to think that the trails near me might some of the most difficult rock gardens in the world...

So my answer is: Ride the scary stuff so long that you get it and learn it. Then move on to more scary stuff.
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Old 11-20-13, 07:32 AM
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Originally Posted by ed View Post
I learned all my technique from the "Taken for granted...techniques for new riders" sticky.
This was very helpful for me as well.
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