1. The most important thing about buying a new bike is to make sure it fits. The only way you'll know if the bike is right for you is to size up the bike and make sure that the bike's geometry matches your body's geometry. Ask questions and do some research.
mtn. biking 101
2. If possible, try to find a shop that will let you demo the bike on real dirt. Five minutes in a parking lot won't cut it. You wouldn't buy a car without a real world test drive, and a bike should be no different.
3. Don't belive the hype. Just because your favorite rider or best friend rides a certain bike, that doesn't mean that's the best one for you. Have an open mind and be realistic about your needs and ability.
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  1. #26
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    Quote Originally Posted by PixieChik View Post
    This forum is the best. Thanks for all the ideas and pointers.

    My goals:

    #1. and within reach- not to be the caboose on every goup ride. Riding with faster guys has been revolutionary to my pace.

    #2. Improve skills- there are four spots on my most frequently ridden trail that I want to conquer for starters. There is a steep hairpin turn, a rocky/shale steep S- turn, and two chunky rock entrances to singletrack. I want to be able to ride them all both up and down without dabbing.

    #3. Lose 13 more pounds-I've lost 23 lb already. But truthfully, the weight loss is secondary, except inasmuch as a lighter body is a hell of a lot easier to pedal around.

    The word "fun" doesn't begin to explain how I feel when I'm mountain biking.
    1. Your 1.6 mile loop may be too short. If you can go to a nearby trail that offer 2-3 miles climb to start. This would really teach you to embrace the pain. Oh the pain!, have fun.

    2. Dedicate a day or two for the trouble spot. Clean it one by one, go back and do it again and again til you feel comfortable. Pic would help us help you. Here are some of the skill needed to defeat those technical challenge. I think the steep hairpin turn you mentioned is called switchback, watch the vid. http://forums.mtbr.com/groups/t-w-o-...kills-link-11/

    3. Wow, keep up the good work, it helps being on the bike and keep putting on base miles. The next thing you know you'd still be complaining about the pain, but at much higher speed It'd never be less painful, just faster.

  2. #27
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    PixieChik, don't worry about improving your time everytime you ride. Work on clearing the tech sections, find the right line and gear combo, learn the trail, know every bad turn before you get there. Try using a smaller gear to build leg strength. If you are really green, look further down the trail, don't look directly in front of your wheel. Your bike will go where your eyes point it.
    Lastly, try adjusting your rear brake lever so your brake is not so "grabby". Your fronts are for stopping, the rear is for scrubbing speed. This will help you carry more speed into turns.

  3. #28
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    Consistency. Your brain will get more out of a 1-hour session three days a week than a single three-hour session one day a week.

  4. #29
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    Enjoy it

    Riding isn't meant to be pure performance, if you just wanted to get stronger you just could ride an exercise bike. Pick different routes while your training, this will 1. keep you from getting bored of the same scenery and challenges and 2. challenge you in different ways which will strengthen you technique in all areas of riding. I suggest riding road which emphasizes on speed, cardio and smoothness as well as trail which emphasizes on strength, maneuvering and again cardio.

    Also pay attention to the way you ride. You can wear yourself out in the first few minutes and have a very slow run. A mid speed the whole run is better than fast the first half and wishing you could be done the second half. Use your gearing, don't pay attention to output (moving speed) but instead input (your peddling). You want to be peddling around a consistent 60 (+-10) rpm in a comfortable gear. This will use your slow twitch muscles which allow for endurance. Peddling to hard or fast will use fast twitch muscles which although allowing for a quick burst of power will wear you out and leave you slow for the rest of the run. If you keep your muscles in their peak range at all times (utilizing your gearing) you will see maximum performance and better times.

    I hope that helps, enjoy riding.

    Also many articles can be Googled on skills such as shifting, cornering, breaking, climbing, descending, counter steer, etc

  5. #30
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    Riding more is key.
    Singletrack on the weekends really doesn't provide enough consistent exercise/activity to improve quickly. Try to ride singletrack at least twice a week (three times would be great).

    Try to get some urban rides in around town on other days, and make it aggressive - hop curbs, hit loading ramps, down stairs - in other words don't just push your legs - get upper body/core involved.

    Find what your weak skills are and practice. Having a hard time popping the rear wheel? Set up a 4x4 segment in a parking lot and practice. Check youtube for skills & technique videos if you're not sure you're doing something right.

    Put in some road miles when you can't get mtb - builds cardio and quads (= good).

    Don't become obsessed with time/speed. Learn tech skills and build fitness.

    Have fun.

    Steve Z
    Pedaling when it's dry
    And paddling when it's wet

    My insignificant blog:
    http://swampboy62.blogspot.com/

  6. #31
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    Learn to embrace pain and suffering. Once you have mastered it, those around you will need to suffer to keep up.

    Pick up a copy of The Time crunched Cyclist. It's a good start if you are looking for a plan.


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

  7. #32
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    I like this thread and have a few ideas to share.

    1. Ignore any advice about the type of bike SS/HT/FS...blah blah blah
    Rationale: Ride what you have. You can improve by riding what you have and gaining familiarity with the bike you own. Given a constant bike, you can still measure improvement, so for the general purpose of getting better, any bike will do.

    2. Focus on specific aspects of riding, and train in pieces
    Rationale: Have you ever played Gran Turismo racing? One of the first things you need to do is get your licenses in order. To do this, you work on a small set of skills repeatedly to improve on each one separately. In MTBing, pumping, turning, etc. can all be worked on in smaller pieces. you may need to separate fitness from skills, so taking plenty of breaks isn't a bad idea. This is how you learn virtually any sport. Somehow when it comes to biking, many get into the straight "game" mode and forget about the "practice" it takes to play the game.

    3. Build fitness
    Rationale: If you are racing the clock, maintenance of stamina is key. It is remarkable how much your time changes if you are on the side of the trail sucking wind. The Tortoise and the Hare has some good life lessons.

    4. Keep a log
    Rationale: Track variables such as weight, perceived wellness before the ride, and times. Many of the predictors of your time may not be your pure skill improvement. Simply feeling flat or heavy legged will slow you down considerably. It may tell you it is time to rest or do something different.

    5. Mix it up and have fun.
    Rationale: Unless you are trying to race for a living, never stop enjoying the riding. If you find you are in a rut, mix it up (road, new trails, etc). If you find yourself dragging, you could be bored.

    6. Measure your contentment and address areas you are not happy with.
    Rationale: This goes back to #2 above (and other advice given here). Understanding what aspects you want to improve is essential to improving them. You could identify a coach or trainer to watch you ride and they might be able to spot areas you could improve. Riding with a few other riders might give you ideas of areas you gain (and loose) speed. Where you are loosing time might be areas to train more.

  8. #33
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    Quote Originally Posted by heyyall View Post
    ...
    It is remarkable how much your time changes if you are on the side of the trail sucking wind.
    ...
    Dude, I don't know you, but that statement is worth a second or third read.

  9. #34
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    Naa, if you suck wind you keep riding while you catch your breath. the key is to push it hard and back off before you have to stop the bike. Like blasting up a hill full out then
    taking it down some when you hit the flat or downgrade at the top. A 1.6 mile loop is
    too short imo. I'm used to a 10 mile loop, so a 1.6 mile run for me would be a warmup.
    We all like it different though.

  10. #35
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    Quote Originally Posted by PixieChik View Post
    Hey, all you experience riders! Share your most helpful tip(s) to help me get better.

    I have some ideas. For instance, I've mapped a 1.6 mile "sprint" loop with a challenging hill and a rocky downhill. Today I measured my times for a few laps, and I plan to spend a couple of days a week racing myself.

    I'm looking into arranging to invite a coach to lead a skills clinic in my area next summer.

    All advice welcome
    Quote Originally Posted by PixieChik View Post
    Goal for my interval loop: sub- 10 minute. Currently 11:49. Pathetic first attempt.

    Edited to delete my lame-o personal goals. This should be a more universally helpful thread. I know some of you guys are holding out your most useful tips. Thanks to those willing to divulge.
    Quote Originally Posted by PixieChik View Post
    This forum is the best. Thanks for all the ideas and pointers.

    My goals:

    #1. and within reach- not to be the caboose on every goup ride. Riding with faster guys has been revolutionary to my pace.

    #2. Improve skills- there are four spots on my most frequently ridden trail that I want to conquer for starters. There is a steep hairpin turn, a rocky/shale steep S- turn, and two chunky rock entrances to singletrack. I want to be able to ride them all both up and down without dabbing.

    #3. Lose 13 more pounds-I've lost 23 lb already. But truthfully, the weight loss is secondary, except inasmuch as a lighter body is a hell of a lot easier to pedal around.

    The word "fun" doesn't begin to explain how I feel when I'm mountain biking.
    Now we are getting down to the meat of what you are looking for.

    Sounds like #1 is fitness.
    Fitness is actually pretty easy give advice for. This comes down to base miles and training. Ride more is true, but ride hard to get your heart rate up. You need aerobic endurance and leg strength. One good way to do this on the roads. Pick a road loop and just hammer out the miles. Ride as hard as you can for 45 minutes. A bike computer is good see your speed and track the time. These base mile are the foundation for everything else.

    #2 is technical. General fitness can help here as you will arrive less tired and with more capacity to do technical moves. Unfortunately I don't know that I can tell you in words how to handle these technical bits.

    #3 will come with fitness.
    Joe
    2003 KHS Alite 4000 26" Hardtail - XC, All mountain, blah blah blah.. I just ride.

  11. #36
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    I have noticed the biggest help after going to the gym consistently a few days a week for 3 months. I mainly did it just to lose weight but it allows me to ride harder, longer and recover quicker. I am not going to repeat what everyone else is saying but I add the weight training at a gym.

  12. #37
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    Eat well
    "Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up." Galatians 6:9

  13. #38
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    That will be hard.

  14. #39
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    Quote Originally Posted by heyyall View Post
    I like this thread and have a few ideas to share.


    2. Focus on specific aspects of riding, and train in pieces
    Rationale: Have you ever played Gran Turismo racing? One of the first things you need to do is get your licenses in order. To do this, you work on a small set of skills repeatedly to improve on each one separately. In MTBing, pumping, turning, etc. can all be worked on in smaller pieces. you may need to separate fitness from skills, so taking plenty of breaks isn't a bad idea. This is how you learn virtually any sport. Somehow when it comes to biking, many get into the straight "game" mode and forget about the "practice" it takes to play the game.
    Great analogy I love it

    That game nearly broke my spirit back in the day.

  15. #40
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    alright here you are

    1 Ride.

    There is no right/wrong way to ride a bike. 50 different people can take 50 different lines and move at the exact same speed. 50 people can climb in several different gear ratios and get to the top at the same speed.

    2 Push.

    It is going to burn. Let it. Get stronger go faster. Where to focus, wherever you get stronger there will be some advantage. Vary how you ride, long and slow, short and fast, at some point it will be advantageous. Pedal how fast/hard works for you.

    3 Enjoy it. (it being riding all out)

    Keep riding to the top of your ability, and after a while you will look back and see the top of your ability is higher than it used to be. If you try to measure progress over a day you will not see any, it is there but you will not see it. It is like trying to measure snowfall on the ground after only a minute of it snowing.

    (There are some great tips stated earlier to do these things. Eg, riding with people faster than you, riding self time trials, riding endurance, etc etc etc.)

    4 Don't doubt. The fastest start as the slowest and eventually, again become the slowest.
    (or jump off a cliff)
    My bike who art in garage, Hoo Koo E Koo be thy name...

  16. #41
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    As others before me have mentioned...riding a road bike helps a lot. I had been riding mountain-type bikes since I was 2, and in high school I got on a road bike for a few days each week in the spring, and it made a massive difference in my overall fitness. Plus road bikes are bats-outta-hell fast on hills (my 40 mph personal record was set on my old Hardrock, though...).

    Regardless of the bike you have, ride on the road. Find a hilly loop, and run laps.

    Ride with others who are better/more advanced than you. They will push you to keep up, and offer helpful technical advice: drop your heels some, change gears sooner, etc.

    You will fall. Allow yourself the chance to fall. It hurts, it's miserable, no one likes to, but falling is what shows us the limits of our bikes and our bodies. When it happens, take a moment, think about why you fell, and store that bit of information away for future use. I learned how to corner better by eating bark dust, gravel, pavement, and dirt

    Not sure where you live, but find the longest, steepest hill in your area, and grind up it once or twice a week. Focus not just on times but also body position and gearing.

    Do core strengthening workouts. Your legs, arms, and cardio endurance will build with time on the bike...the core is often neglected, and can lead to a myriad of problems.

  17. #42
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    sleep well!

  18. #43
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    For fitness check out Mountain Bike Strength and Cardio Training Tips and Programs
    For skills check out Mountain Bike School, Mountain Bike Camps, coaching by Betterride

    I know and have experience with both, good luck and kudos for wanting to improve yourself.

  19. #44
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    Quote Originally Posted by FireLikeIYA View Post
    I am definitely not an expert but here are a few tips that I can share:

    1. Purchase and use a bike computer, Garmin or good phone app to keep track of your progress. Garmins have something called "virtual partner" that allows you to compete against yourself in real time. I believe virtual partner is the best way to get into "biking" shape because it can really provide that push to ride just a little bit harder.

    2. Learn to pedal around 80-100RPM. This is arguably considered the most efficient range. Some bike computers, including most Garmins, have cadence sensors that will display your cadence in real time.

    3. Practice being proactive versus reactive with your shifting.

    4. You can learn to manual. I have only ridden for 3 years now and I am just now starting to learn this trick. Here is a good website with videos.
    60 rpm is generally considered more efficent
    My bike who art in garage, Hoo Koo E Koo be thy name...

  20. #45
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    Quote Originally Posted by andrew hild View Post
    60 rpm is generally considered more efficent



    Uhmmm, no it is not.

  21. #46
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    Quote Originally Posted by roadie scum View Post
    Uhmmm, no it is not.
    roadie is correct. 60 rpm is NOT more efficient...

    rpm should be in 80-100, as stated in the previous post...

  22. #47
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    Quote Originally Posted by osokolo View Post
    roadie is correct. 60 rpm is NOT more efficient...

    rpm should be in 80-100, as stated in the previous post...
    Yeap, 60 rpm is grunting, any less seated is just torturing

  23. #48
    Serenity now!
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    Quote Originally Posted by andrew hild View Post
    1 Ride.


    4 Don't doubt. The fastest start as the slowest and eventually, again become the slowest.
    (or jump off a cliff)
    I love this. Are you channeling Yoda?

    I purchased a Garmin 500 with my Christmas and birthday money. There is so much great advice in this thread! The input is all very much appreciated.
    Duchess of Dab

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