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Advice for novice rider

handfulhandful Posts: 918
edited October 2008 in MTB beginners
Well, I've had my GT Avalanche 1 for a month now and my riding has so far been a mix of road, track, bridleway mainly on fairly flat ground. On Sunday I took the dog for a walk on a part of the Mendips that is only around 5 or 6 miles ride away for a recce and want to go back with my bike this weekend and am very excited at the prospect but also in all honesty a little nervous.

During the course of my walk I went from tarmac to bridleway to very narrow single track to wider but very rough and stony track and some of the sections are quite steep, (well for me anyway). The thought of coming a cropper coming down this section makes me shudder and I just wanted to know if anyone could pass on any tips that may boost my confidence a bit.

I'm particlarly worried about the steep stony/rocky descent and know that I will be testing my Tektro Aurigas to the limit!! I am using and have got fairly competent with my spds and am confident with them on level ground now, should I unclip as long as I'm not pedalling downhill and as long as I keep my weight well back and feet parallell or is there more danger I could slip off them? Also, Is it a case of trusting the bike's handling capabilities and letting my speed build up or should I just take a step at a time and remain within what I feel are my capabilities for now? (i.e. wimp :oops: )

Any advice much appreciated. :)
Vaaru Titanium Sram eTap HRD
Kuota Kharma Evo Rival 22 - fair weather
Moda Chord with drop bars and Rival shifters - foul weather
Intense Spider 29er - mud

Posts

  • Hi,

    I don't really have any riding tips but I am in a similar position. Over the last couple of weeks I have started to push my self a bit and have reaally seen the benefits and enjoyed the rides alot more.

    I think you can push your self a little more without going OTT and terrifying yourself.

    my advice would be go for it!

    I don't have SPD's at the moment, so not sure about that one. (there my next purchase)
    You've got to burn it to earn it!!
  • .blitz.blitz Posts: 6,588
    Just try and relax and don't have a death grip on the bars. Look as far ahead as you can and avoid target fixation - if you stare at a rock or tree you will hit it.

    And keep pedalling through the tricky stuff.

    Good luck and enjoy the riding !
  • ceecee Posts: 4,553
    I think a big part of it is having the confidence to trust the bike. Bikes are great in that they really do want to keep rolling, and what with suspension forks being as good as they are these days, even hitting some obstacles unexpectedly does not mean an off.

    Keep at it....the confidence will grow.
    Whenever I see an adult on a bicycle, I believe in the future of the human race.

    H.G. Wells.
  • ride_wheneverride_whenever Posts: 13,279
    And don't unclip, spuds are pretty slippery, even the caged ones, keep yourself locked in, heels down weight back and loose grip on the bars. Let the bike move under you and take it steady the first couple of times.
  • handfulhandful Posts: 918
    Thanks guys, I think you hit the nail on the head .blitz, I'm not frightened of speed as an ex motor biker of many years but I think the key is to stay relaxed, particlarly in the grip. I know you can't compare sports but golf is the same, if you tense up you end up in big trouble albeit a bit less painful, at least physically!
    Vaaru Titanium Sram eTap HRD
    Kuota Kharma Evo Rival 22 - fair weather
    Moda Chord with drop bars and Rival shifters - foul weather
    Intense Spider 29er - mud
  • AndyBikeAndyBike Posts: 126
    Been through the very same thing myself over the last 6 months new to MTBing, although I have been riding bikes off and on for 40 yrs.

    I'm learning that comming off is part of riding if you are going to do more challenging stuff sometimes it doesnt hurt too much other times it has kept me off my bike for a few weeks but unless you are realy carful its going to happen, dont focus on crashing keep focused on what you are doing and that you can do it well. I think its important to limit the chances of a crash so if your tired do easier rides save the challenges for days when you really feel up to it.

    Take some time to get used to your bike and its capabilities so you can learn in a safe way how it rides and what it can do.

    The articles mags and sites publish can help with your skills try practising these, braking off the back putting my weight through the BB transfomed my control when stopping in an amazing way.

    I unclip when I feel I may need a foot to dab down but also swop to flats when I ride harder and more difficult ground.


    Good luck
  • .blitz.blitz Posts: 6,588
    handful wrote:
    Thanks guys, I think you hit the nail on the head .blitz, I'm not frightened of speed as an ex motor biker of many years but I think the key is to stay relaxed, particlarly in the grip.
    I've been riding two-wheelers all my life and MTBing is great for supressing the 'panic reaction' when something goes wrong on a motorcycle. By the same token, your perception of speed via motorcycle will be invaluable when MTBing 8)
  • handfulhandful Posts: 918
    Thanks again for the comments and advice. Like I said, speed doesn't concern me at all, I have been 150mph+ on motorbikes but that's on nice smooth tarmac. I have also experienced spills in the past (none my fault of course ) and the thought of flying down a stony track doing somersaults still clipped in is enough for me to exercise probably excessive caution. I'm late getting into this (46) and I'm probably lacking some of the fearlessness of my younger days! Maybe I should get my old leathers out although I might overheat a bit on the uphill sections :wink:
    Vaaru Titanium Sram eTap HRD
    Kuota Kharma Evo Rival 22 - fair weather
    Moda Chord with drop bars and Rival shifters - foul weather
    Intense Spider 29er - mud
  • maximus69maximus69 Posts: 347
    wouldnt worry about clipping out, if you do come off they will unclip anyway.stand up, relax and let the bike do all the work over the rough stuff is my advice. try to float over everything!!
    "My life is like a porno-movie, without the sex".
  • At a very basic level, you will find the steep descents easier to handle if you get your weight back as far as possible and extend your arms so you are not hanging over the front wheel. In general don't unclip unless you need to dab a foot down.

    Look ahead and judge the terrain, plan your path to avoid anything that will cause you problems. Don't be afraid to stop and take a section easy if you need to, you can always go back and do it again.

    Sometimes very bumpy sections can be easier if you get a bit more speed, because shock absorbers don't work very well when travelling slowly. Be prepared to unweight the bike from time to time to take you over the worst of it.

    Use the brakes when you need them, but remember the whole point of going downhill is to enjoy gravity so make the most of it while you can - soon enough there'll be an uphill section. As long as you can see your way out of the section you should be fine, and you will lose speed very quickly once you are back on the flat.

    The first few times may be a bit squeamish, but before long you'll be wondering what the fuss was about and going back to do it over again.

    If you are really concerned, ride with a mate so you're not on your own if things do go wrong.

    Most of all, enjoy !!

    Marv
    What tree ? ...........

    Trek 8000 ZR XC hardtail.
  • handfulhandful Posts: 918
    Thanks to all of those who gave me advice. I have to say it was great advice as well, been out today and did the route mentioned above and loved every minute of it!

    It was pretty challenging for me with some very very muddy sections followed by some pretty rough, steep rocky and stony descents and single track but I did as advised, tried to stay relaxed, kept my weight back and used the back brake to control my speed when it got a bit hairy. I can feel it in my wrists though so I'm probably still gripping a bit too firm at times!

    And I got back in one pece as well which was a bonus! Only one near miss and that was on the way home when I wasn't concentrating, Hit a pothole and nearly ended up in a hedge much to the amusement of a group of farmers who were sat around on their quads! :oops:

    I'm knackered though, played 18 holes of golf before my ride, getting too old for all this activity!
    Thanks again for the advice guys, much appreciated. :)

    BTW, the Avalanche was brilliant if any newbys are thinking of buying one, god knows how good a higher spec bike would feel like.
    Vaaru Titanium Sram eTap HRD
    Kuota Kharma Evo Rival 22 - fair weather
    Moda Chord with drop bars and Rival shifters - foul weather
    Intense Spider 29er - mud
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