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. #1
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    Guess I'll finally make a 1st post

    I didn't see an introduction center so I hope this is it. I joined a little over 2 years ago and constantly lurk yet never post. Sometimes the amount of information on here is too overwhelming so I just have to walk away.

    Want some background? Here it comes.

    I'm a dude, 28 residing in the Albany, NY area.

    Like many, my only experience was riding my K-Mart special to and from school and terrorizing my neighborhood.

    In 2009 while I was enlisted as Air Force Security Forces (MP) I was able to go through a tactical Bicycle Police Officer certification course with a local PD in the Phoenix area. I instantly fell in love once I learned how to properly ride and control a mountain bike. I went through the course on a 2008 Specialized Hardrock and it was a lot of slow movement technical cone courses which I loved but we also did a lot of trail riding on fire roads to build stamina and that was some of the most fun I've ever had. Learning to use a mountain bike as a weapon may also come in handy someday. I'm in no way some expert rider but I feel I have a few more skills than the average noob.

    Fast forward to 2011, I'm living back in NY, I tell my wife I'm getting into mountain biking, she says "Ok, but what about me?" So I purchased 2 internet bikes because I felt I was getting the best bang for my buck and I'm very mechanically inclined so maintaining my own bikes was no issue (with the help of Zinn & The Art of Mountain Bike Maintenance and mtbr of course).

    I purchased a Motobecane 700HT for myself and a 600HT for my wife. Problem was, no way to transport. Didn't have the cash for a decent rack and refused to buy a cheap one that would damage my car or bikes. We rode some paved trails nearby and I brought her into some small wooded areas to try and build some of her skills. The bikes collected a lot of dust over 2 years though so finally last week I recommended: we buy a proper rack or the bikes get sold, she was on board. So I ordered a hitch from hitchanything, a rack from performancebikes, added the few pieces that our kits were missing and now we're ready.

    Probably going to start with some longer distance paved paths because my wife's leg strength isn't there and frankkly neither is mine, I haven't been on my bike in almost a year. Then we'll ease in to some easy trails hopefully, she's never been off of pavement. Any helpful info for a semi-noob training a full on noob wife?

    That's my story, did anyone read it?

  2. #2
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    Quote Originally Posted by NYSt8ofMind02 View Post
    Any helpful info for a semi-noob training a full on noob wife?
    Go slow, be patient, have fun. That should about cover it.

    Welcome back!
    Don't you hate it when a sentence doesn't end the way you think it octopus?

  3. #3
    RTM
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    My first suggestion is to stay off the pavement at all costs. Build up your strength (as you say) on some beginner friendly trails made of dirt and have fun making some turns in the woods. Nothing challenging, just make it dirt!

    A big part of the fun of mountain biking is being in the woods, adventuring, riding over "rugged" terrain, getting some mud on your leg, crunching leaves, stopping to take in the views, etc. Make it about being outside having fun, not about improving your VO2 Max. I don't know Albany well, but I have to imagine you've got some fantastic trails and wide variety available. You are lucky.

    In my many years encouraging friends, girlfriends, wives and kids to ride, I've found that nothing kills the mountain biking 'buzz' like riding on pavement. One or both of you will quickly lose interest and motivation to go riding, and you risk having a lot more dust in your future.
    "The bitterness of poor quality remains long after the sweetness of a low price is forgotten." - Benjamin Franklin

  4. #4
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    Have fun!

    Good advice about pavement. If you're trying to get into MTB and aren't already an avid cyclist, pavement can be boring as hell, esp. on a MTB.

    I just like to cycle in general, and find road riding much more convenient, but even I'm starting to get bored with it. Riding the same roads and seeing the same scenery (no matter how great it is) just gets old after a while.

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by RTM View Post
    My first suggestion is to stay off the pavement at all costs.
    Quote Originally Posted by StuntmanMike View Post
    Good advice about pavement. If you're trying to get into MTB and aren't already an avid cyclist, pavement can be boring as hell, esp. on a MTB.
    I'm going to offer a differing opinion. If you are trying to get someone into mountain biking and they aren't already comfortable on a bike, the first root or rock they hit with the wheel a little crooked is going to scare the living hell out of them and can crush someone's enthusiasm for riding any kind of bike. Putting in pavement miles is an easy way to get a person accustomed to how and why to brake or shift, what the bike feels like when you turn it or hit a hill and all within a very low stress environment because there are no obstacles to fixate on or avoid.

    I think a lot of people forget what it's like for someone who is an absolute beginner, even the most simple thing like running your tire into a little root can be show stoppers for beginners. If you crush someone's comfort level early, they may never recover. I saw it this weekend; an inexperienced rider got a little bucked (didn't crash) on a rock and their confidence was shattered. That person sat out for the next few laps until I suggested they hit what amounts to a smooth jeep road to regain some confidence. The weekend before, same story with another friend of mine riding with other friends of hers; the first sign of a tough spot, which an experienced rider wouldn't even notice, sent her walking.

    Not everyone takes to mountain biking straight away and any saddle time is time well spent. Pavement should not be avoided and in many situations it should be encouraged before attempting dirt.
    Don't you hate it when a sentence doesn't end the way you think it octopus?

  6. #6
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    Agree with Zebrahum. When I started mountain biking I had been riding a mountain bike on the road for years and was very familiar with the gears, shifting etc. Hitting the trails was new but at least I knew how to handle the bike. I take noobs out and they often get in trouble changing up gears when they need to change down, get mixed up between changing front and rear derailleur. Things I just take for granted. I'm a noobie to trail riding but I'm not a noobie to riding a bike. A total noob should learn to work the gears/brakes/steering etc before they hit the trails IMO.

  7. #7
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    I think you should go to the trails because you've had two years of road opportunities and no sale.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by zebrahum View Post
    I'm going to offer a differing opinion. If you are trying to get someone into mountain biking and they aren't already comfortable on a bike, the first root or rock they hit with the wheel a little crooked is going to scare the living hell out of them and can crush someone's enthusiasm for riding any kind of bike. Putting in pavement miles is an easy way to get a person accustomed to how and why to brake or shift, what the bike feels like when you turn it or hit a hill and all within a very low stress environment because there are no obstacles to fixate on or avoid.

    I think a lot of people forget what it's like for someone who is an absolute beginner, even the most simple thing like running your tire into a little root can be show stoppers for beginners. If you crush someone's comfort level early, they may never recover. I saw it this weekend; an inexperienced rider got a little bucked (didn't crash) on a rock and their confidence was shattered. That person sat out for the next few laps until I suggested they hit what amounts to a smooth jeep road to regain some confidence. The weekend before, same story with another friend of mine riding with other friends of hers; the first sign of a tough spot, which an experienced rider wouldn't even notice, sent her walking.

    Not everyone takes to mountain biking straight away and any saddle time is time well spent. Pavement should not be avoided and in many situations it should be encouraged before attempting dirt.
    This was my exact philosophy. She had not been on a bike in over ten years and even then she had no idea what she was doing. She had no idea when to change gears, the difference between the rear cogs and front chain rings, braking etc. I felt it would have been irresponsible to just throw her on a new bike and hit a trail with no real grasp on how the bike operates and try to teach her as we go. If she took a nasty spill or even a small one it may have shaken her.

    The last time we rode we went to a grassy park that was outlined with trees and had small dirt hills. She was able to practice some descents, shifting her weight over the rear wheel and clearing small logs and whet not. She did take one spill on a climb but was more embarrassed than anything else.

    I think she'll do fine on her fast trail ride, the hardest thing she's having trouble grasping is anticipating her shifting. A lot of times she'll approach an incline in way too high of a gear and that point it's too late and she's jumping off mid climb.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by eb1888 View Post
    I think you should go to the trails because you've had two years of road opportunities and no sale.
    I agree, now that we have a rack I expect to get way more riding in. To get to those paved trails we had to ride city streets and she absolutely hates road riding. I probably should have budgeted for a rack in my initial purchase.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by zebrahum View Post
    Go slow, be patient, have fun. That should about cover it.

    Welcome back!
    +1
    It's better to do 2 small rides a week than 1 big one till you get some condition. If recovery is bad and painful enough, it might just turn her off for good.
    It's no fun when you feel like you're gonna crash, fall or not be able to make it back to the trailhead so take it slow. As skills and stamina build her fun and love for it can happen.
    the strongest trees grow on the windiest plains... ~Tone's

  11. #11
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    I also agree with putting in some paved path miles for beginners who are brand new to mountain biking, or just haven't done it in a long time.

    I am also a noob, just bought my first mountain bike 3 weeks ago and haven't ridden in probably 7+ years. However, I feel fortunate that I took to it like a fish in water and was able to do my first dirt trail ride over the weekend, cruising over roots, rocks and downed tree obsticles, and shifting properly with little problems.

    My girlfiend, on the other hand, is a different story. Just bought a bike for her on Monday and she hasn't ridden in probably 10 years and she was having trouble just staying upright while taking it for a test ride. I definitely wouldn't be taking her on even beginner dirt trails because I know she'd on the ground at the first root patch we hit, or at least would be walking 80% of the trail.

    To repeat what others have said already, getting yourself and/or others you ride with comfortable on the bike and being able to build up a little confidence before hitting the trails would definitely be a good idea.

  12. #12
    RTM
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    Don't misunderstand. I specifically said dirt/gravel paths and beginner friendly trails. There's no benefit to riding pavement vs. skill-appropriate natural terrain. You can learn all the same skills and be in the woods while you're at it. Teaching and learning to clear a 3" log is a heck of a lot more fun than learning the same skill on a curb. I also believe a few 'impassable' obstacles will encourage more riding not less. If she's dismounting every 50 feet or walking 80% of the trail then you have not picked a skill-appropriate trail. But beginners respond well to a ride sprinkled with challenges they CAN overcome and a few they can't.

    You should do whatever works for you. Bottom line, I guess we all agree, keep it fun. For me fun starts with dirt.
    "The bitterness of poor quality remains long after the sweetness of a low price is forgotten." - Benjamin Franklin

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by RTM View Post
    Don't misunderstand. I specifically said dirt/gravel paths and beginner friendly trails. There's no benefit to riding pavement vs. skill-appropriate natural terrain. You can learn all the same skills and be in the woods while you're at it. Teaching and learning to clear a 3" log is a heck of a lot more fun than learning the same skill on a curb. I also believe a few 'impassable' obstacles will encourage more riding not less. If she's dismounting every 50 feet or walking 80% of the trail then you have not picked a skill-appropriate trail. But beginners respond well to a ride sprinkled with challenges they CAN overcome and a few they can't.

    You should do whatever works for you. Bottom line, I guess we all agree, keep it fun. For me fun starts with dirt.
    You weren't misunderstood, it's simply that many people will not respond well to introductions on dirt. I know, I've seen it multiple times. No matter the perceived ease of the trail you choose, some people are apprehensive at the thought of taking a bike off of pavement. Many people's appropriate terrain is not dirt.

    My point is simply that not everyone learns the same and if you push too hard in teaching then you're likely to fail. Plenty of people will learn best by immersion, many others require a very delicate touch. It's important to note this when discussing any learning curve. Your approach is valid, but it won't be successful in every case.
    Don't you hate it when a sentence doesn't end the way you think it octopus?

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by RTM View Post
    Don't misunderstand. I specifically said dirt/gravel paths and beginner friendly trails. There's no benefit to riding pavement vs. skill-appropriate natural terrain. You can learn all the same skills and be in the woods while you're at it. Teaching and learning to clear a 3" log is a heck of a lot more fun than learning the same skill on a curb. I also believe a few 'impassable' obstacles will encourage more riding not less. If she's dismounting every 50 feet or walking 80% of the trail then you have not picked a skill-appropriate trail. But beginners respond well to a ride sprinkled with challenges they CAN overcome and a few they can't.

    You should do whatever works for you. Bottom line, I guess we all agree, keep it fun. For me fun starts with dirt.
    Makes sense, I rode pavement for an hour yesterday because its my closest option to home and I mainly wanted to try out my new rack, but I was bored out of my mind about 20 minutes into it.

    I've scoped out some beginner dirt paths to go to this weekend. Based on how she performed with the mock trail I set up at the park last time we were out I know she'll be fine.

  15. #15
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    Actually good points. I wasn't taking into account comfort level on a bike. I've been riding so long that I forget that people over the age of ten can still be beginners.

    And pavement riding can be fun given the right scenery. I'm lucky enough to have gorgeous pavement riding outside my doorstep. Although even then, after riding 3 times a week for a few months its getting old.

    I went on my first group ride last week, which was fun. Met some nice people and had a nice "leisurely" ride....it was about 4mph off my usual pace. Nice way to get into riding though for a beginner.

  16. #16
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    When you are ready to hit the trails, check out this website for resources/trails in your area:

    CapitalMTB - Category:Trails

    And here is some information on bike paths that your wife might enjoy based on what you are trying to do to build comfort off-ride, but before going onto the single-track.

    Capital Region bike paths | All Over Albany

  17. #17
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    Go to this page and/or this page and search for Albany, plenty of trails to choose from.

    Take her to some fire roads or double track to get started, asphalt is boring and won't prepare her for the dirt other than conditioning.

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