What to Expect When Joining a Mountain Bike Riding Program

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Mountain biking is a fast-growing sport that has many different formats. Mountain biking is a fantastic way to exercise and have fun outdoors, from jump-and-pump tracks under city overpasses to lift-serviced trails at ski resorts.

When riding in a group, communicate with other riders to stay safe. For example, call out if an obstacle is ahead to let those behind you know to avoid it.

Beginner Trails

If you’re a beginner mountain biker, stick with the green trails (beginner). These trails are smooth and have less than 5% trail grade. They also feature obstacles no taller than a few inches.

If an obstacle is in your way, don’t grab your brakes too hard—it can cause you to lose control and crash. Instead, look through the turn to where you want to exit and use your pedaling technique to guide your bike around it.

Mountain bikes come in different shapes and sizes, and beginners should take the time to find a bicycle that fits them well. Your local bike shop will have experts to help you choose a good bike. Some riders prefer a rigid or no-suspension frame, but most eventually opt for a suspension bike. The suspension allows the structure to absorb bumps and jumps, making a smooth ride. Some popular suspension models include a shock, fork, and rear derailleur.

Intermediate Trails

If you’ve been mountain biking for a while and have progressed beyond beginner trails, consider joining a group ride that tackles intermediate courses. These trails are usually symbolized by a blue square on a trail map and offer 24″ or more of trail width, slightly variable surface, climbing grades between 10% and 15%, and unavoidable obstacles no more than 8″ tall.

If your goal is to improve your riding skills and get some exercise, try joining a mountain biking program like Train to Ride that builds and maintains its mountain bike trails. These clubs often have a roster of experienced riders who lead rides and offer members exclusive trail maps and difficulty ratings for their rides.

All-mountain or enduro mountain biking is for riders who enjoy climbing up to ride down. These trails are typically found at lift-serviced bike parks (often during a ski resort’s off-season) and feature jumps, berms, rock gardens, wooden ramps, and other artificial challenges that require significant, rigid bikes with a suspension capable of taking on the big drops.

Advanced Trails

Some mountain bikers find that they prefer to ride more challenging trails. These may include more technical obstacles like rocks and roots, short, punchy climbs, drops, and berms. They may also involve a more significant challenge in speed and endurance. This type of riding can be found at mountain bike parks, in backcountry areas, and on some cross-country trails.

When riding in a group, be sure to follow the lead riders. Riding close to other riders can be fun, but riding within your limits and not pushing yourself too hard could cause you to blow up and be dropped from the group. Learning to yell or gesture with your hands when changing pace is also good for letting other riders know. This is especially helpful when riding in a group or having a Gravel bike training plan because it lets other riders behind you know that they should slow down. It can also help you warn other riders of any upcoming obstacles.

Race Courses

Mountain bike races are a fun way to compete and improve your riding skills. The unique demands of the sport call for a specific training plan that is a blend of endurance and skill-based interval days.

Their methods are science-based and structured to help you get faster by raising your FTP, sharpening your capabilities, and enhancing your endurance.

As you advance to the intermediate level, your ability to maneuver around obstacles becomes an essential part of your riding. Rocks, ruts, drops, skinny log rides, and wooden ramps can be intimidating initially, but modern mountain bikes are built to handle them. It’s essential to use your technique rather than your power to conquer these obstacles, or you may end up walking the bike or, worse, crashing! The best riders can balance their power with excellent technique. This is where a mountain bike coach can help.


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