Tuesday, April 27, 2010

What does it take to become a better mountain biker?

A beginner progressing in the skills park.
Rider: AJ H. Photo: Shannon C.?
There is a good, constructive discussion going on over here at the Singletracks.com forum about what it takes to become a better rider, or as the OP put it, "How do people get so much better than me?"

There were a lot of excellent replies, including:
  • Riding with other people who are better than you and watching and learning from them.
  • Just getting out to ride, and having fun while you do it.
  • Focusing on different aspects of your riding and training.
  • Traveling to different places to become a better rider.
After a lot of good advice was already given, which I didn't want to repeat, I said:
trailrider247 wrote:
but if you want to get better at riding, you just need to keep riding and try harder things that you havent tried before, also since you ride with Goo i would just keep riding with him and ask him to show you some pointers on how to get thru some of the tough sections and how to carry speed, ive seen a couple of his vids and he looks like a good rider, i also noticed that hes capable of flying down the trail at high speeds and brakes just enough to carry a good amount of speed thru some of the corners, so i would say any advice from him would be good, but like the others posted just ride with people that are better skilled riders and remember that alot of it is just mind over matter.
Haha, I think I'm going to blush or something right now!
I'm always more than happy to share a tip or two as we go along.

I know I'm a bit late to this thread, but I've read all of the responses above...

And FBtrek, I'm thinking two things:

1) Just keep riding on a regular basis.This will help build your strength.
1a) Be sure to do some cross-training excercises, especially your core.
2) To get better at riding hard, steep trails one of the best things you can do is ride hard, steep trails a lot. For instance, I'd focus less on riding GSC and more at riding Chicopee, especially some of the harder trails there.

In the grand scope of things, Chicopee really isn't that hard either. But if you want to ride some STEEP, technical trails with rocks and roots, some (small) drops, and several air opportunities, they're only 30-45 min away in dahlonega. And ellijay and blue ridge aren't too far beyond that, and hold great trails as well! I live up this way, so I'm more than happy to ride! :D
IMO, one of the keys to becoming a great trail rider is travel. So it may be counterintuitive, but having a car to travel to places will help you be a better mountain biker. It's a weird thought, but one I had in high school with skiing. I wanted to ski, needed a car to get there so i could ski more often, therefore i bought a car.
Hope this helps! (As well as the other info that people gave for freeriding and etc., that was good stuff too.)
It's been a really good discussion so far, and definitely worth checking out!  I know personally I want to spend more time riding with better riders than myself than I currently do. The usual stuff tends to come up though: schedules won't jive, weather gets in the way, a bike is broken...  But that's life, that's the sport of mountain biking, and in the end it is all about having fun, riding bikes!

What other advice would you give about becoming a better mountain biker, or do you have any more questions about progressing your riding skills? Please leave a comment below!


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Greg Heil is the Editor in Chief for Singletracks.com. He's been writing and publishing online since before blogging existed.

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Mountain biking, plain and simple. Trail reviews, ride reports, and philosophical musings induced by delirium from grinding up way too many vertical feet.

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