The local trail chirpers, bro champs, and Strava aficionados may think they know everything, placed themselves as elitists and own all the trails (therefore… Move Over! Yesterday! Damn it!). The thing is, they don’t know it all. I sometimes convince myself I know a thing or two but the sport, the bikes, the riding techniques are constantly changing and MTB brings the humble & a person’s true abilities from a technical section, a greasy root, the unforgiving granite, to dodging wildlife/trail dogs/humans/bigfoots. Riding brings out humility on every ride, mostly because I hit a tree or even bail in the parking lot.
Knowing my newb skills, lack of knowledge, my insane desire to ride double black diamond trails, an egotistical need to “look cool on a bike doing epic jumps n shit” and the want to one day teach others to ride. Having a solid skill set in my bike kit is important on and off the trail so I signed up for all the things this year:
- MTB Club – regularly scheduled rides 4-5 days a week (assigned skill level rides)
- Bike Maintenence Clinic
- Intermediate Skills Clinic
- Race Training
- MTB Race
- 2 Day Bike Camp
- Downhilling Skills Clinic
As 2017 sits I have completed 6/7 things already (kind of significant considering it snowed yesterday during the 2-day bike camp).
Regardless of expertise or experience on a bike, I highly recommend signing up for a skills camp or clinic. There are things that one could be doing that are dangerous, unsafe or generally harder than necessary. In fact, “Doing-All-The-Things” is a good idea (so long as the budget allows). Show up, ask dumb questions, try new stuff, fall – fail even! That way you will know what went wrong, challenge yourself. Everyone there wants to teach the skills to build better riders so there is more fun to be had on bikes. Period. It is also the perfect venue in which to master developing skills without having to clog up a trail section, stop a ride with your buds (and deal with the snark/razz or potential snapchat clips), or getting hurt in the middle of backcountry without help nearby.
If a clinic or camp offers any demo equipment (bike or otherwise) DEMO THE SNOT OUT OF EVERYTHING regardless if you are in the market.
This is what I learned since April:
- After my 2016: 28 rides, 450 (ish)km of trail, I did not know how to ride a bike. Seriously. (I am still face-palming all over the place)
- Booty Calls/My Milkshake (Popping the butt out on corners and pretending to crop-dust over the crowd. )
- I still can’t ballerina mount my bike – I am not sure I will ever gracefully mount a bike. I am a wobbling whirlwind of elbows, knees and high kicks. Awkward AF.
- Spread ’em – elbows/knees out
- Brains can suck – Stop thinking (Still think, just don’t think too much)
- Clean your bike – just not in a car wash. Ever. Unless the situation is dire.
- Before each ride check everything – this was how I discovered my rear shock is no longer working properly
- Demo-ing is amazing (and potentially deadly for the pocketbook! lol)
- Pedalling off my seat
- Level Pedals & ratcheting
- 1 finger braking – hammers typically not required
- gearing is an art form
- Speaking of forms – hinge points, body position, rotation etc
- Dropper Posts are amazeballs (I don’t have one – nor a quick release, I seriously have to dig out a multi-tool to adjust my seat – all the ugh’s)
- I don’t care what trail I am on so long as I can be quick and nimble…though I prefer down
- Having the right equipment for the kind of riding to be done – from the bike frame, tires (size and grip – tubed or tubeless), and all the components. Basically, go pick everyone’s brain and try ALL THE TINGS!!!
- The right amount of things with me on my ride – from the bike pack itself to proper hydration levels everything inside it (or mounted to the bike – impossible in my case….that’s another story)
- Nutrition – what to eat before, during and post ride
- Doing it, doing it and doing it well: Ride the bike, be in control – don’t let the bike take me for a ride (ie: hang on & white knuckle everything)
Most importantly, don’t give up. You are worth more.
Life is waiting for you to live it.
Get out, throw a rock, ride your bike.