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How long till I'm competent. I want to love it more

malibu2012malibu2012 Posts: 15
edited May 2015 in MTB general
Hi guys,
I've been riding about 9 months and one or two times a week mostly around the Surrey hills.

I enjoyed myself so bought a giant anthem x2(2013 first hand) in Feb. It's a 26er

I've had a few falls and even though when I ski I tend to be pretty fearless, I now have a pretty high dose of fear about some doing some fairly tame trails. I've been taken down some stuff that I ended up walking down because it was just too big ( thick and creamy at peaslake for example). I've had some lessons about the basics recently showing me there's plenty to learn.

My head tells me if I relax more, the trails will be smoother and I'll get better that way. Easy to say....
Any other advice? As they are natural trails, are they more challenging and should I hit more of swinley to improve my technique and get better?

How long does it take to get competent is like asking how long is a piece of string but any advice is appreciated. When it goes well, I love it. I just want to love it more.


  • Antm81Antm81 Posts: 1,406
    Book a skills course, I did a day of 1:1 tuition and it totally transformed my mindset and confidence.
  • CqcCqc Posts: 951
    Antm81 wrote:
    Book a skills course, I did a day of 1:1 tuition and it totally transformed my mindset and confidence.
    +1. It seems expensive, but when you look back on it afterwards and think that you could have spent the money on upgrades which would not have made you much faster in comparison to the new skills you have learnt from the course, it's definitely worth it.
  • paul.skibumpaul.skibum Posts: 4,068
    Ride more, ride with other people ideally who are better than you, you are better if you are fitter, read stuff on how to get better - Brian Lopes' book isn't bad, Zep techniques seeries of articles on pinkbike, skills course might help if you pick the right one but you will get more out of it if you have a better base level. Swinley used to be a great place to progress - since they made it flat its not so much. I didn't consider myself any good for years although I felt better at it due to rising fitness, moved to whistler and now I feel intermediate compared to some of the guys here.
    Closet jockey wheel pimp censored .
  • wilberforcewilberforce Posts: 237
    For me, one of the key and most important aspects of riding well is where to look - focus on your front wheel and the ride will be stop-start and slow, focus down the trail anticipating the obstacles and where the trail goes and you can ride a lot smoother and faster.

    If you are riding with someone then it is easy to fall into just watching their back wheel, but much better to sit back from them a little further and look past them down the trail

    You are always going to find riders who are more competent or faster than you
  • Angus YoungAngus Young Posts: 3,063
    How long till you're competent? If I'm anything to go by, forever!
    All the gear, no idea and loving the smell of jealousy in the morning.
    Kona Process 134 viewtopic.php?f=10017&t=12994607
  • PXR5PXR5 Posts: 203
    Riding with friends better than you always seems to help, it gives you, well me anyway, confidence to attack a climb or go over some drop as they seem to see the line to take rather than being worried about falling etc.
    When i ride on my own i repeat two or three routes that i know well, trying to complete them faster, making a climb without stopping or getting down a decent faster relying less on the brakes etc, IMHO course etc will all help, but nothing much can substitute for mileage under your belt of that great feeling the first time you make a climb that seemed impossible a few days/weeks before..
    Every time I go out, I think I'm being checked out, faceless people watching on a TV screen.....
  • RockmonkeySCRockmonkeySC Posts: 15,247
    Keep your eyes up and look well ahead, this will make you loads smoother than if you're looking close to your front wheel.
    Relax, stay loose and let the bike move around under you.
    Get off the brakes. Braking should be done before you get to a technical feature or corner so you can ride through off the brakes. This will leave your tyres more grip to carry you through the feature. It will also allow your suspension to work properly and take load off the front wheel. Some of the nastiest crashes I have seen have been caused by braking inappropriately and just letting go of the brakes would have avoided a trip to A&E.
    More speed will often make things easier. A bit of momentum can really help carry you through things.
    Try to find someone experienced to ride with. You can learn a lot by following a good rider. Avoid riding with fast riders, you will get hurt trying to keep up!
  • malibu2012malibu2012 Posts: 15
    Thanks for your help guys. Unsurprisingly no silver bullet. Fitness is key but mine is pretty OK( did the ups and downs a couple of weeks back (50k))

    I definitely agree that when I've managed to look ahead more, I've ( sometimes) picked the right line, the riding has felt so much better. I'm focusing on this for now and will also practise some of the technique i was given in my lesson, particularly getting weight back over technical stuff and drop offs.

    Just looking back over the past few months, I've knocked up to minutes off my best times on trails and got them feeling a bit smoother. So I have got better, it just feels that often I get a bit scared when things are not smooth for prolonged periods and I was wondering when that confidence will come..

    Whilst I enjoy hanging with others, I find I can see less if I'm out with others and think it's led to less confidence. Maybe it will be less of an issue once I feel more confident. Or hopefully anyway because riding alone is less fun.

    I'm going to ride more often alone to nail the technique I've been given and then maybe go back for some more lessons.
  • loudogloudog Posts: 136
    Like others I've always found that riding with people similar to your own ability is by far the best confidence boost. Theres that little competition there that forces you to progress. Trail centres are the best places as everyone is pumped and they provide the greatest technical variants.

    Another thing to remember is - You will be getting better with almost every ride regardless. Subconsciously taking more info, going faster, shifting body weight in the right places & tweeking another thousand processes . You more than likely won't realise that your actually getting better until "damn, I'm taking over a lot of people here, and I'm making people eat my dust when I do".
    It matters not, win or lose, it's how you ride the bike
  • asdfhjklasdfhjkl Posts: 333
    malibu2012 wrote:
    Whilst I enjoy hanging with others, I find I can see less if I'm out with others and think it's led to less confidence. Maybe it will be less of an issue once I feel more confident. Or hopefully anyway because riding alone is less fun.

    You're not on the road, no need to hug their back wheel! Hang back a bit if you can't see past them and take things at your own pace.
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