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  1. #1
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    Lousy bike ride, need help with group member!

    Well I had my usual group weekend trail ride today and to put it simply it sucked. One of my group members who is pretty new to the sport keeps making the same mistakes every single week and refuses to learn even though he falls hard 3-4 times a ride. He's been riding for almost two months now. I just don't know what to do, my group gives him pointers every single ride and he just wont listen to us or improve (specifically his form). Is there anyway I can get him to listen? Getting hurt every single week doesn't seem to teach him anything at all. Usually we all are patient and keep teaching him but seriously 2 months in at least into the same trail making the same mistakes, and not learning I am really frustrated right now. Any advice would be appreciated.

    Cliffs:
    - Two group members fall 4 times during the ride, one specifically who falls at the same spot every ride won't learn.
    - Another group member had a flat
    - Spent nearly half the ride sitting because of the above.
    2010 GT Sensor 2.0

  2. #2
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    Find another group or ride solo. What are you going to do, tell him he can't come along?
    Geologist by trade...bicycle mechanic (former) by the grace of God!

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  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by TiGeo View Post
    Find another group or ride solo. What are you going to do, tell him he can't come along?
    thats what I don't want to do. Hes a good friend, and I want to help him, but I don't think hes improving and I want to see if anyone had a similar experience with a group member and can help me out.
    2010 GT Sensor 2.0

  4. #4
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    Sounds like a come-to-Jesus talk is in order then. Finally, not everyone becomes or can be a good mountain biker.
    Geologist by trade...bicycle mechanic (former) by the grace of God!

    2012 Specialized Stumpy EVO 29 HT

  5. #5
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    I would stop at the spot he has trouble with and have him do it 3 times.

  6. #6
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    He's a grown man, right? Why can't you guys just smoke him and wait for him in the parking lot? If everyone stops and coddles him everytime he makes a mistake, he will never learn.

  7. #7
    Just Ride
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    Quote Originally Posted by ghettocop View Post
    He's a grown man, right? Why can't you guys just smoke him and wait for him in the parking lot? If everyone stops and coddles him everytime he makes a mistake, he will never learn.
    truth

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by ghettocop View Post
    He's a grown man, right? Why can't you guys just smoke him and wait for him in the parking lot? If everyone stops and coddles him everytime he makes a mistake, he will never learn.
    Hmm maybe we should do that and see. Thing is though he gets lost often and by lost I mean really lost. Also we do sit there and tell him how to do it and show him multiple times by showing him how we all do it. But we havent sat there and got him to do it three times yet. Might try that first before we smoke him.
    2010 GT Sensor 2.0

  9. #9
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    Maybe he just doesn't possess the talent. For harder rides, maybe you should suggest to him that he sit those out, but let him tag along on less-demanding rides until (if) he works his skill level up.

    I ride with a group of guys, and they're all pretty much well past my technical ability and stamina level... I don't think they'd hesitate to let me know if a particular ride they were going on was a bit too much for me to try to keep up with them.

  10. #10
    R.I.P. DogFriend
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    Group rides take longer. No two ways about that. Add 5 to 10 minutes per person to the average ride is the way we figure it. If that bugs you, maybe group rides aren't for you. You can always ride by yourself or in the small group that works for you.

    The thing is that people come and go from the sport for various reasons, be it injuries, burnout, moving, busy at work, etc.. If you don't bring newer riders along into the fold, pretty soon the group dwindles and eventually you will be riding solo. Most people I know that are into it mainly for fitness and worry that they aren't keeping up the pace they like end up riding with only a few others or riding solo. Just the nature of the game and I guess you gotta be you.

    If you're into the group riding thing, I would suggest some more patience and setting aside some extra time alotted for your rides. I agree with the suggestion to stop and session the places he seems to struggle with.

    Winston Churchill said "I am always ready to learn, although I do not always like being taught."

    Maybe he'll be open to watching others to see how they do it rather than being told, or maybe he'll ask for some feedback. It's sometimes a fine line to straddle between being a know-it-all-PITA vs. being a welcome mentor. Maybe take some video of him and let him see it for himself.

    Whatever the case, nobody enjoys being 'that guy' on a ride and it's difficult to find 10 or more people on a group ride that can all ride the same pace and have the same technical skills. For me, the friendship and camaraderie I find on group rides trumps the workout factor. It's more about the people than the ride. Sometimes I enjoy trying to hammer with the faster riders, and sometimes I hang back with the noobies, especially if no one else is sweeping.

    Newer riders can get discouraged if they always feel like they are 'that guy'. I ride several days a week and manage to enjoy myself regardless of whether I am riding like an Ork through middle earth or hanging back at a 'no sweat' pace with a beginner and everything in between. I have fun if we stop multiple times to fix flats or other mechanicals. I make the best of it. 'Fun' is the only expectation I have on a ride. Each ride can be it's own unique 'adventure' for any number of reasons. If I have fun, everything else is merely a series of details to deal with while I am enjoying the outdoors with friends.

    There's only a few things I may not enjoy on a group ride. The biggest things are bad attitudes and those that always act like they can't wait to ride, but once they are out on the trail, they have to finish as soon as possible, like they're going to be late for a dentist appointment or their spouse will start having sex without them if they're not home by a certain time.

    JMHO, and of course, your mileage may vary.

  11. #11
    local trails rider
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    Don't know if this applies to the OP but...

    I make more mistakes when I'm tired, or just pushing beyond my comfort level.

    A couple of days ago, I went for a solo ride with the idea of "taking my time", not going faster than I needed to or was comfortable with. No rush. I was more fresh for the bits that challenge me. I had time to see where I wanted or needed to go. So I cleared the turn with several rocks and a stump that I sometimes clear. And, surprisingly, cleared a somewhat rocky piece of uphill that I'd never cleared before.

    Maybe you could try if a particularly easy paced ride would help this guy.

    "it IS possible that you are faster or slower than anybody else who is having at least as much if not more or less fun"

  12. #12
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    Everyone is new at some point in time, but you can't really help someone who has been given the proper information but just won't listen.

    I would just leave him, or pull way far ahead and let him catch up to you. When I was new I had a buddy who had been riding for 10 years, one of my favorite things is letting me get like a 10 minute head start and then he would see if he could catch me. It was a TON of fun because the entire ride you're racing

  13. #13
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    maybe it's the teacher

    i like the idea of having him trying the hard part for him over and over again. maybe he needs more one-on-one teaching. have you been frank with him? asking him if he's having fun and why he seems to be falling over and over or having challenges with the same skills.

    this is why i usually ride solo or just with my wife. i don't want to slow anyone down and do whatever i want. i do like the benefits of group rides though.

    good luck!
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  14. #14
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    We have a class, "Intro to MTB 101" once a month. In these sessions we show riders some of the features they will encounter while on our local trails. Logs, skinnies, ramps, bridges, etc. Spotters are in place at these features. We have them clear these numerous times prior to an easy pace ride through varied terrain. During this ride, we stop at each feature and set up spotters. After this ride we split the group into different groups. Beginner, intermediate, and advanced. We stick to smooth single track for these rides so these categories are mostly based on pace.

    We usually ride with a leader and sweeper. Sometimes with other experienced riders in the middle to help those in need. This process allows us to very kindly make new riders aware of where they need to be for our regular group rides. Some will realize that they need to move from beginner to intermediate. Others realize that they need to move down. So on and so forth.

    Our official group rides are mostly mixed and nobody gets dropped. The rides are normally broken into different skill levels as the ride progresses and we see how the group pans out. Interestingly, we usually end up with a fast crew of three or four at the front, another four to six in the middle, and a few beginners. We rotate our sweepers and leaders so nobody is always stuck riding at 8mph or less.

    As for the new riders that exhibit problems with certain features, well, we normally push them to watch a demonstration of how to clear the obstacle followed by repeated attempts by the individual until the feature is cleared. Then, we push him or her to clear the feature a few more times until it seems that the rider is comfortable. We don't exactly demand anything... we just kinda don't go anywhere until the rider complies. If the rare event occurs that the rider refuses or is unable to clear a feature we just let them walk the bike and move on. However, we no longer stop for that same person on the same feature. Unless, of course, the rider requests help in clearing the feature. Then, normally, one of the members will volunteer to stay behind while the rest continues to ride. This doesn't always work but it keeps things flowing and it allows people to realize that either they will be able to progress in the sport or that they do not possess the drive to continue.



  15. #15
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    First off, it's a "group ride", expect it to take longer if your going to include newbs on the ride. I mean it's pretty simple, newbs go slower, newbs crash, etc.

    Second, don't always go on group rides. Go solo now and then or with someone of your approximate skill level that you know can keep up. We do a group ride about once a week, the rest of the time it's usually pairs or solo. That way nobody gets burned out on group rides.

    Third, remember it's a group ride, nobody gets left behind! That's the whole idea. Mechanicals, flats, and crashes happen, get used to it, or quit doing group rides!

    Fourth, have you thought about helping out your friend off the trail with a little skills training? Think about the section or obstacle that's giving him problems, and the skill or skills he needs to clean it. You'd be amazed at what you can do in a back yard or a parking lot with some old lumber, or whatever, for markers or to simulate a given situation. When I was a newb skinnies and drops scared the hell out of me. But i built a 10 ft long skinny with a 1 ft drop at the end with some old lumber and sessioned it. I still hate skinnies, but I can ride em, and I don't do drops as big as I used to, but I can do em.

    And finally, have you had a talk with him to see what his problem is with the obstacle or section? Not in front of the group but one on one? Do you know if he really wants to improve? Is he riding because he likes to, or because he just wants to be part of the "group"? If you're a good friend, then find out, and help him out. He may be just as frustrated over crashing every ride as you are! So may he just need a little remedial training there Sarge!

    Good Dirt

    HA! leoferus beat me to it, with pictures no less!!!
    "I do whatever my Rice Cripsies tell me to!"

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by ghettocop View Post
    He's a grown man, right? Why can't you guys just smoke him and wait for him in the parking lot? If everyone stops and coddles him everytime he makes a mistake, he will never learn.
    This could really be the worst advice I have ever read. I don't know where you live and ride If you are in the Back Country then you could be endangering your friends life. You never leave a friend to make a trail direction choice. you wait at every turn so no one gets lost. You wait to make sure no one has gotten injured. You wait. If you don't want him/her to go with you then have the balls to say so. don't leave a partner in the back country.

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by lloyd braun View Post
    This could really be the worst advice I have ever read. I don't know where you live and ride If you are in the Back Country then you could be endangering your friends life. You never leave a friend to make a trail direction choice. you wait at every turn so no one gets lost. You wait to make sure no one has gotten injured. You wait. If you don't want him/her to go with you then have the balls to say so. don't leave a partner in the back country.
    I respect your opinion, and appreciate you posting it. However, I have to chuckle a little. Has trail riding become a "buddy system" activity now? Is riding singletrack solo frowned upon by the safety patrol now? If you or your friends are unfamiliar with your surroundings, and your skill or fitness level, then perhaps road riding on clearly marked streets and highways, with hospitals and police stations at your disposal is more your speed.

    Look, the OP made it clear that this was a regular occurance. They were not venturing off on a trek of uncharted territory. The guy is an anchor every single time. The OP doesn't seem to know how to handle it. I offered an "opinion".
    What I don't need is a lesson on "not leaving a man behind". Already know all about it. This is mountain biking, not combat.

  18. #18
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    He probably just sucks and will never learn.

    Gotta give him credit for taking a pounding week after week and still coming back. He may come around.....

  19. #19
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    Thanks for the advice in this thread. I have been quite frank with him, and today he didnt come with us because he was hurting too much from the falls he had yesterday. Group rides don't always slow you down, almost same group today except for the two riders that fell yesterday and we went exceptionally fast through the trails because we were racing each other, probably faster than I ever would have gone alone.
    2010 GT Sensor 2.0

  20. #20
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    Does he ever ride alone? I prefer to work on tough problems alone. Suggest that. The group dynamic can mess with some peoples heads when they are struggling.
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  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by ghettocop View Post
    I respect your opinion, and appreciate you posting it. However, I have to chuckle a little. Has trail riding become a "buddy system" activity now? Is riding singletrack solo frowned upon by the safety patrol now? If you or your friends are unfamiliar with your surroundings, and your skill or fitness level, then perhaps road riding on clearly marked streets and highways, with hospitals and police stations at your disposal is more your speed.

    Look, the OP made it clear that this was a regular occurance. They were not venturing off on a trek of uncharted territory. The guy is an anchor every single time. The OP doesn't seem to know how to handle it. I offered an "opinion".
    What I don't need is a lesson on "not leaving a man behind". Already know all about it. This is mountain biking, not combat.
    point taken and not preaching. Where we ride are the mountains, where people die often. there is no cell range, no water, no shelter, harsh nights, no roads for miles...truely the backcountry. We take the stance the same as winter in the mountains. You don't leave your partners. Do I ride alone? yes on familar territory and always let someone know where I am going and that same person when I get back safely. these are necessary practices for the terrain we ride in. I asked where they were riding to find out if it was some suburban trail or the mountains. A wrong turn on our trail system could easily or probably end up in a closed drainage with no way out baring a 4000K vertical climb.

    I really don't care how or who you ride with but this is the beginers forum and your advice could be taken by the wrong person and a friend could get hurt or killed. I will stand by my stance that were I live, in the mountains, you ride with a partner. Come on out here and I'll be your partner but I would advise you not riding out here on your own!

  22. #22
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    If he falls hard on the same feature every time, then I would assume that the feature is over his head and his skills aren't good enough yet for the feature. I would insist that he give himself a break and walk that feature for his own safety. Otherwise, he's going to end up in the ER, possibly with an injury that will give him trouble over the long haul. Talk about a ruined ride then!

    His skills will (hopefully) improve over time and he'll be able to do it successfully eventually.

    As for the getting lost part. If he gets lost on trails that you ride all the time, encourage him to spend some time and learn the trails. When I was a beginner, I walked the local trails and drew maps. What a sense of independence this gave me! I still do that, but now I use a GPS. I teach my husband trails that I know and he doesn't by having him lead after a couple of times. It only takes a couple of times before he gets all the turns right. It's impossible to learn trails (for me at least) when I'm following someone, concentrating on riding, and trying to keep up.

  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by lloyd braun View Post
    point taken and not preaching. Where we ride are the mountains, where people die often. there is no cell range, no water, no shelter, harsh nights, no roads for miles...truely the backcountry. We take the stance the same as winter in the mountains. You don't leave your partners. Do I ride alone? yes on familar territory and always let someone know where I am going and that same person when I get back safely. these are necessary practices for the terrain we ride in. I asked where they were riding to find out if it was some suburban trail or the mountains. A wrong turn on our trail system could easily or probably end up in a closed drainage with no way out baring a 4000K vertical climb.

    I really don't care how or who you ride with but this is the beginers forum and your advice could be taken by the wrong person and a friend could get hurt or killed. I will stand by my stance that were I live, in the mountains, you ride with a partner. Come on out here and I'll be your partner but I would advise you not riding out here on your own!
    Agreed.

  24. #24
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    When I want to devote a ride to working on cleaning obstacles that give me trouble, I do it alone. I do stop and repeats. I think that riding with a group can be a great context for me for learning how to do something I can already do faster or smoother, but if I can't do it, unless I'm a lot stronger than the group I'd rather just run it, and go back to it on my own another time. In front of people is a terrible context for learning something unless the person is immune to embarrassment, or the facilitator has done an incredible job making a "safe" space for making mistakes.

    For a while, I was trying to get my friends, who supposedly were into cycling, to ride bikes with me. I was also just starting to race. It sucked - during the winter, the time I really wish other people would ride with me because it's a lot harder to enjoy riding, they didn't want to ride. During the summer, I was mostly racing. I recently joined a larger team than the one I was with for my first two years, and now I ride with other people, both on- and off-road, much more often. The distribution of skills and fitness puts me somewhere in the middle, or maybe clinging to someone's wheel for dear life when it's a road ride. I still ride with friends who don't wear matching jerseys and goofy shorts, but it's a lot easier to just go for a ride now that I have training rides that are as hard-core as I can handle, have given myself permission to do some kinds of training alone, and know a lot more people who ride a lot more regularly.

    I'm not saying don't ride with your friend. I am saying join a club so you can go on some rides that are challenging for you, ride along on the days you want to go hard, and when you do ride with your friend, just ride with him. Don't try to teach him anything unless he asks, or he's endangering other members of the group. Try to create a safe environment for him to walk that obstacle if he's endangering himself on it. Basically, if you want to ride with him, accept that he's not as fast or skillful as you and don't worry about it, and if you want to ride fast and on more interesting trails, do it alone or with a different group.
    "Don't buy upgrades; ride up grades." -Eddy Merckx

  25. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by perttime View Post
    Don't know if this applies to the OP but...

    I make more mistakes when I'm tired, or just pushing beyond my comfort level.

    A couple of days ago, I went for a solo ride with the idea of "taking my time", not going faster than I needed to or was comfortable with. No rush. I was more fresh for the bits that challenge me. I had time to see where I wanted or needed to go. So I cleared the turn with several rocks and a stump that I sometimes clear. And, surprisingly, cleared a somewhat rocky piece of uphill that I'd never cleared before.
    +1. I ride solo sometimes for exactly the same reason. On group rides, I'm usually "that guy" who is huffing and puffing to keep up the pace. There's no time or energy left to enjoy technical trail features. I accept that, and I make sure I go out alone often enough to satisfy my need to do more than just huff and puff to keep up.

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