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Tips for getting better at MTB?

Old 12-07-20, 11:45 AM
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davei1980
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Tips for getting better at MTB?

My progression has stalled out on some of the hardest "blue" trails in my nearby MTB park, I can't seem to conquer any of the black diamonds. The features that challenge me the most are steep step ups and maybe drops (stuff you can't or shouldn't roll). I ride everyday, or, at least, every weekday. I have no interest in gravity/dirt jump stuff or flow/berm, I am most interested in rocky, technical trails.

Any advice to get over the hump?
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Old 12-09-20, 09:39 PM
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Just keep riding. The skill will come. Sometimes it just takes hitting that black trail to break yourself into it. I am not saying to go way out of your zone, but progression will only happen once you push yourself out of your comfort zone. If you can, try to hit a different location. Different areas will have different things to offer and might challenge you in a new way. And unless you are planning on racing or competing, don't be to hard on yourself. Make sure riding is always fun.
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Old 12-13-20, 02:59 AM
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Check out Kyle and April's skills videos on YouTube. He does a great job of breaking down how learn a skill. He's really gifted as a teacher--blows away most other youtube how-to people.
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Old 12-15-20, 07:04 PM
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Here's some basic suggestions:

For black diamond type stairsteps and drops, you need to commit and have a certain amount of speed through the features. Momentum (not necesaryly fast) but just a bit more than enough is key. Also keeping the momentum is very important. Hitting brakes and such through features is not good.

Choosing the right line is very important. On new stuff I'll sometime stop and look for the proper line before attempting even walk it if need be. Things look different and easier off the bike. This is a great way to build confidence.

Also body position, different for going up and going down. Some of the blue less difficult trails don't penalize you for incorrect body position, Blacks diamonds will. Lots of good videos on the net showing proper body positioning.

Elbow and knee/shin guards are a must. Not only do they protect you, they give you confidence. If you're riding blacks, you're going to fall at some point. I ride with Fox D30's.

Always push your self a little but know the limit of over confidence. Ride a little bit out of your comfort zone as mention by WannaGetGood.

Find a riding buddy with similar or better skill set. I find riding with someone give me more confidence on the big stuff.

Keep at it you'll improve!

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Old 12-15-20, 08:07 PM
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I'm in little of the same boat. My first mountain bike will be here in a couple days. I've been a little nervous about how I will do. I'm sure I'll be fine and I'm sure that some of my bmx skills from my teens will instinctively kick in.That said, I'm older (by a lot), I'm heavier (by a lot) and the bike dynamics aren't the same. I went look for some tips in technique.

I found this video:


I don't know who he is, but he's really good at breaking down the basics in a variety of situations.
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Old 12-20-20, 09:58 PM
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Originally Posted by davei1980 View Post
My progression has stalled out on some of the hardest "blue" trails in my nearby MTB park, I can't seem to conquer any of the black diamonds. The features that challenge me the most are steep step ups and maybe drops (stuff you can't or shouldn't roll). I ride everyday, or, at least, every weekday. I have no interest in gravity/dirt jump stuff or flow/berm, I am most interested in rocky, technical trails.

Any advice to get over the hump?
Make some friends that are better than you and ride with them. It helps a lot to see their lines and techniques. Take a look at youtube videos too. Start with Jeff Lenosky and go from there. Oh - and session stuff; do it over and over to conquer certain sections; even better - session with other people.
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Old 12-21-20, 03:44 PM
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Originally Posted by davei1980 View Post
My progression has stalled out on some of the hardest "blue" trails in my nearby MTB park, I can't seem to conquer any of the black diamonds. The features that challenge me the most are steep step ups and maybe drops (stuff you can't or shouldn't roll). I ride everyday, or, at least, every weekday. I have no interest in gravity/dirt jump stuff or flow/berm, I am most interested in rocky, technical trails.

Any advice to get over the hump?
Flow and berm type trails are good step towards drops and things like that. I'm not talking a full bike park, but they let you practice popping off a lip and body positioning in a very controlled setting. They also get you more comfortable with the higher speed and momentum that are very helpful for rocky stuff.

And my lesson from this weekend, if you're having trouble getting something, stop and really look at the trail and consider the line. I was struggling with an uphill rock garden. Once I got off and put the bike down, and looked more closely, I realized I was taking the wrong line. I was picking a line that was initially cleaner but put you into a boulder near the upper part. Taking the initially more difficult path set up for a clean pass.
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Old 12-21-20, 05:00 PM
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Originally Posted by xcfang View Post
Make some friends that are better than you and ride with them. It helps a lot to see their lines and techniques. Take a look at youtube videos too. Start with Jeff Lenosky and go from there. Oh - and session stuff; do it over and over to conquer certain sections; even better - session with other people.
Really good advice, just watching someone else do it and not die is enough!
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Old 12-21-20, 05:03 PM
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Originally Posted by gsa103 View Post
Flow and berm type trails are good step towards drops and things like that. I'm not talking a full bike park, but they let you practice popping off a lip and body positioning in a very controlled setting. They also get you more comfortable with the higher speed and momentum that are very helpful for rocky stuff.

And my lesson from this weekend, if you're having trouble getting something, stop and really look at the trail and consider the line. I was struggling with an uphill rock garden. Once I got off and put the bike down, and looked more closely, I realized I was taking the wrong line. I was picking a line that was initially cleaner but put you into a boulder near the upper part. Taking the initially more difficult path set up for a clean pass.
Good call! I remember on an up and over type of rock feature, I told myself out loud on a few failed attemps "next time try 1 or two gears higher, aim for the scat pile on the left, then hard right" LOL

The bike park near my house has a great mix of everything, including ramps to practice drops. I am pretty consistent on the ramps (they're just straight planks that drop off in to nothing, not a jump but like a flat ramp to practice drops) but nervous to put it all together on a real trail when the landings aren't as obvious and there may be another feature to set up for immediately!
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Old 12-21-20, 11:45 PM
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Thanks, you guys are all super helpful and represent the best of the Forum.

Some context: I posted this thread right after crashing SUPER hard on my 1st black diamond attempt. My confidence was at an all time low, also I buggered up my shoulder and was concussed. I actually bent a crank, which my mechanic argued wasnít possible. I had it, I just clinched up on a steep descent and lost it.

My favorite blue trail would be black if all the hard lines were mandatory but most have bailout lines. Hereís a link to the video if you want to see.

the weather is making it hard to ride daily on the mountain so focused now on having fun, staying strong and fit, and progressing incrementally if i can

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Old 12-23-20, 08:27 AM
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I've been riding a while. What helped the most was joining a club in PA (when I lived around that area), and riding with better riders who had more experience. Learned a lot from them! With drops, the "launch" and landing is very important, of course. In order to do both correctly, you'll want to better learn the "balance" of your bike. A bike with a heavier fork will, of course, have a different "balance" of a bike with a lighter fork. Try practice doing a wheelie, or when approaching a small incline, see if you can carry enough speed and "wheelie" just enough so the back wheel lands a little earlier than the front. Don't know how everyone else learned, but that worked for me. You could wreck while learning, but if you start with an incline that is shorter before leveling off, at least you don't have too far to fall!
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Old 12-24-20, 11:34 AM
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That is a great trail! Lots of stuff in just two or three minutes. You've also come a long way since you got that bike
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Old 12-25-20, 12:01 AM
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Originally Posted by Darth Lefty View Post
That is a great trail! Lots of stuff in just two or three minutes. You've also come a long way since you got that bike
Thank you! Itís nonstop fun from top to bottom. The two lower trails (not in video) are super fun too with more rolls and slabs, but the most technical stuff is in the vid.

covid, man. Gotta keep busy somehow while I canít commute!
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Old 12-25-20, 10:35 AM
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I should have watched your video before attempting to offer advice! You're riding terrain that I wouldn't. But you might heal quicker than me, as I'm a senior and won't heal as quickly as I used to.
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Old 12-25-20, 05:20 PM
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Originally Posted by freeranger View Post
I should have watched your video before attempting to offer advice! You're riding terrain that I wouldn't. But you might heal quicker than me, as I'm a senior and won't heal as quickly as I used to.
I am sure thatís not true! I am lucky that this trail is only 4 miles from my house so I can ride every day, but this is also the top of my ability.

I have no delusions of being competitive, if I donít progress any further I am still having a great time and a lot stronger from climbing 1,000 feet/day!
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