Mountain Bike Tips For Beginners From Beginners

01 | Jan | '20
Ian Terry

 

More exercise. Save money. Lose weight.

These banal goals always bubble to the surface of January conversations.

New opportunities for learning have never been more abundant. Sailing across the gap that separates ability and imagination has never been more accessible. Finding others who share our unique interests and values has never been easier.

And still, we set boring resolutions like “Get more organized”.

Well, not all of us…

The following Evergreen members picked up a mountain bike in 2019 and haven’t looked back since. They overcame their fear of trying something new and braved the murky mud of Washington as knobby tire beginners for the very first time.

So, where are they now? What have they learned? And, most importantly, what advice do they have for those thinking, “In 2020, I want to become a mountain biker”.

Read on to find out!

---

Describe your experience of mountain biking for the very first time!

“I previously spent time road biking with friends but found myself getting bored of the grind pretty quickly and didn't enjoy busy streets. I remember being so excited about the challenge of carrying speed through a berm … I was hooked instantly.”

- Garrett, University Place

 

“My friend showed me the ropes at the Whistler Bike Park, gave me some pointers and showed me around. Within two days of riding in the park, I was fully addicted. I was already planning on when I would return, already planning on what kind of bike I was going to buy when I got back home and what clinics I was going to take throughout the summer so I could learn some uphill pedaling skills. It was truly like being a little kid again … riding your bike with your friends and soaking up the summer. My husband and I returned back to Whistler three more times after that!"

- Dani, Tacoma

 

“My first time mountain biking was on a super rainy day in March at Duthie. I had signed up for a clinic to learn some basics and see if it was something I'd be interested in. By the end I was soaked and covered in mud, but I loved it anyways and I bought my first mountain bike a week or two later.”

- Kate, Seattle

 

“For my first mountain bike ride I went over and rode at one of my buddy’s houses. He let me try out many different styles of bikes. I rode his single track and tried out a few small jumps. Before I left I was riding down a hill when the chain popped off and I flew over the bars. I did not let this discourage me. After this ride I decided I needed to get a bike of my own. Ever since this day mountain biking has been my favorite thing to do.”

- Ryan, Eatonville

 

image1 1

Dani celebrates at the top of Raging Ridge on a recent ride.

 

Tell us about a fear you overcame during your first few months of riding. How did you work to overcome that fear?

“In my first few months I was scared of not being good enough. I was nervous trying new trails, riding solo, etc. I still sometimes feel like this, but the more I ride and have fun the less I care. I think the best way to overcome this fear is to surround yourself with fun people and not take anything too seriously. Nobody else cares what you're doing or what ability you're at. I even went to Utah a few weeks ago and rode part of the Whole Enchilada! I was apprehensive to commit to such an intimidating ride, but I had a great time and was so proud I pushed myself!”

- Kate, Seattle

 

“Linking up with friends to try trails and features that felt a bit above my skill level was super helpful.”

- Tom, Seattle

 

“I’m pretty competitive, so the first big hurdle to overcome was not feeling self-conscious or frustrated about being in my mid 30's and struggling on relatively easy trails. Nothing more humbling than being at Duthie and having 8-10 year old kids blow by you as you are trying to work up the courage to hit a little drop or jump... That being said, this sport is about developing yourself. I had to constantly remind myself that I can't compare my day 10 to someone else's day 1000 or whatever it might be. I began to find joy in riding the same trail more than once myself, and noticing even minuscule improvement.”

- Matt, Seattle

 

“The first few months I was really scared of going fast and didn’t understand how speed is important at times to help with balance and trail obstacles so I was using my brakes A LOT! I was also scared of wet roots and rocks and anything that involved getting my bike off the ground like little drops or jumps. With time I started learning to trust my bike and understand what it could do. My confidence grew, but my skills were still behind‚ after 6 months of riding I had a hard crash down in Hood River and suffered a broken ankle. It was really a challenge to go through that injury process, and that is really when getting over my fears started. I have been back on my bike for a few months now, but I am seeing my riding develop in a totally new way. I am focused on building my skill with fundamentals as well as restoring my confidence! It seems that injuries are bound to happen in this sport, but what I learned about myself and how I got back on the bike to face those fears are some of the most rewarding experiences that mountain biking has provided for me so far.”

- Cynthia, Tacoma

 

What do you love most about mountain biking? Tell us! 

“The jumps and drops.”

- Grayson, 12, Mount Vernon

 

"Thinking time vs. 100% focus time. While climbing to the top of my favorite descents I have ample time to let my mind wander, and when the trail points down I am fully immersed in the moment. Best way to clear your head and come home feeling refreshed.”

- Tom, Seattle

 

“We live in a beautiful part of the country, any excuse to get outside is rewarding. There's something insanely enjoyable about pushing yourself around a corner just a little bit too fast and getting away with it. It’s been really great to pick up a hobby that my kids can join me on, too.”

- Garrett, University Place 

 

“It’s difficult to narrow it down to just one thing but if I had to, it would be the pure fun and exhilaration of the downhill. It takes you right back to being a kid in the summer with your friends going fast and riding bikes!”

- Dani, Tacoma 

 

“Since I've started mountain biking, It's become one of my favorite things to do. It's just really fun! First, I love being outside and exploring new places. I've gone on a few mountain bike trips that have been so fun. Second, I view mountain biking as a time to disconnect and relax. It gives me a few hours to put my phone down, disconnect with whatever may be happening in my life and focus on having fun and the challenges of whatever trail I might be riding.”

- Kate, Seattle

 

“What I love most is our community, our friends, and our access to mountain biking in the PNW. As an immigrant moving here from Colombia just over a year ago, I didn’t have any friends of my own and didn’t really feel like I had a community to bond with until I found this connection through mountain biking. Now, I’ve been able to participate in some trail work with Evergreen and FOCF, I’ve volunteered as support at the CDC races, and I have found the most amazing group of friends through this sport. Just learning our local trail systems has helped me explore my surroundings and the beauty of the PNW all the way from Bellingham to Hood River. Also, I have really enjoyed learning a new sport that pushes my limits mentally, physically, and emotionally. I’ve enjoyed the process of getting better with time and meeting challenges that I consider difficult. That sense of accomplishment makes me grateful to have this sport and I really feel like I’ve only scratched the surface of a long-term way of life.

- Cynthia, Tacoma

 

kate beginnerblog

Kate enjoys the desert sun on a recent ride in Utah.

 

Is there anything you've learned that you think other beginners may find useful? Any tips or tricks you've picked up?

“That a lot of trails are not that hard so just jump in!”

- Grayson, 12, Mount Vernon

 

"Learn some basic mechanic skills. Being able to fix a flat, adjust your shifting, etc. can get you back to the trailhead if you have a mechanical issue and save you time and money by taking your bike to the shop for everything.”

- Tom, Seattle

 

“In my personal experience, I found it extremely helpful to have professional instruction and help from another female rider. It really felt like she understood my hesitation to attack certain terrain and knew just how to push me to try new things without making me feel lame if I decided to pass on one. She was supportive, fun and just really made me fall in love with it at a pace that I was comfortable with.”

- Dani, Tacoma

 

“One hard lesson learned is that you should always zip up your pockets ;)

- Kate, Seattle

 

Ride with people who are at varying skill levels. Riding with better riders has pushed me and given me an opportunity to ask questions or copy things they do. Likewise, riding with less experienced riders has given me the chance to actually quantify my own progress. Nothing helps learning retention like teaching someone else.”

- Matt, Seattle

 

ryan beginnerblog

Ryan's 2020 trail goals are set around conquering larger gap jumps. 

 

What's one thing you wish you'd known when you first started riding?

“I wish I knew how fun mountain biking was, I would have started earlier!”

- Grayson, 12, Mount Vernon

 

“That mountain bikers are friendly! Most folks are just out to enjoy themselves and are happy to show you lines, help change a tire, etc.”

- Tom, Seattle

 

“I wish I would have known what an amazing community of people I was about to join. I just had no idea that the mountain biking community is so supportive, friendly and genuinely just wants everyone to get out, enjoy nature and have fun! It has truly felt like every time I hit the trails on my bike I have met the friendliest supportive people and now friends! It has really helped and encouraged me along my beginners journey!”

- Dani, Tacoma

 

Doubt kills more dreams than failure ever will! It's easy to keep kicking the can down the road and claiming that you need a new bike, to get in shape first, more friends who ride, etc, etc before you start riding yourself. Get out there as you are with what you have, and the rest of that stuff will follow.”

- Matt, Seattle

 

“The magic of Chamois butter. Use it– it will literally save your ass.”

- Cynthia, Tacoma

 

“One thing that I wish I’d known when I first started riding is how much fun it is. Mountain biking has brought so much fun into my life. It gives me great opportunities to hang out with my friends and explore the outdoors.”

- Ryan, Eatonville

 

What's one riding skill you'd most like to improve upon in 2020?

“Tricks!”

- Grayson, 12, Mount Vernon

 

“Cornering. I’m confident in my basic skills, but I know I can improve with some work on technique.”

- Tom, Seattle

 

“When I grow up I want to be able to manual.”

- Garrett, University Place

 

“I really would like to improve on cornering!”

- Dani, Tacoma

 

“In the next year, I want to become faster (both down and uphill).”

- Kate, Seattle

 

“I still can't ride downhill switchbacks to save my life, so that's certainly a goal for this year ...  and I need to go join a work party or two and give back. Sorry Evergreen!”

- Matt, Seattle

 

“I’m still afraid of steep sections of trails and also sharp switchback corners. When those two things are combined on a trail it really freaks me out. I think that tackling those skills will really advance my riding in a lot of ways and open up so many new trails to explore!”

- Cynthia, Tacoma 

 

“The skill that I would most like to work on this year is riding larger gap jumps. I’m going to do this by practicing on smaller jumps, and working on my line choice.”

- Ryan, Eatonville