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  1. #1
    Bike Shop Girl
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    10 Things to Know as a Beginner

    I'm working on a list of, right now it is 10 but want to make longer, of things you wish you had known as a beginner. Maybe we can do the hard work for some ladies starting off so they loose less skin!

    1. You do not have to ride a women's bike just because you are a woman

    2. Don't wear underwear under your bike shorts - it will cause chaffing and can trap in moisture

    3. Bike shorts will feel like diapers, the more expensive they are, the better they will fit, and the longer they will last.

    4. Do not put a gel pad on top of your bike seat, you are putting a band aid on a bad fitting bike or saddle

    5. Wear a helmet you idiot. It won't save your life if your head gets run over a car, but most of my accidents it has kept me from getting a concussion, broken nose and in some states it can be looked at as negligence if you are hit by a car without a helmet and have head injuries.

    6. You do not need to feel uncomfortable while buying a bike. Just like a car, find a new shop, or in the beginning tell your fears or worries so the bike shop can address them.

    7. Bike shops can not read your mind. Tell them to the best of your abilities what you want to do with your bike, what your longer term goals are and what your budget is.

    8. As fast as humanly possible, find a group to ride with. It will make you a better rider and you will feel safer.

    9. It is okay to be scared and have fear. Learn to harness it and "push" through things. Always try to conquer your fear, if you can't manage the hill or rock garden, get off but at least try. (I forget this one at times!)

    10. You do not need to have a fancy bike to enjoy riding a bicycle.


    what do you have to add to this list?
    Last edited by Arsbars; 07-10-2012 at 06:28 AM.
    Bike Shop Girl Empowering women in cycling

  2. #2
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    11. It's OK to walk - "hike a bike"

    ^ I think everyone at one point feels like they'll be laughed at or thought of as weak/lazy/fat/whatever if they have to get off and walk, whether it's because of a steep climb, or super technical stuff or stuff that is plain unrideable. But there's no shame in it! Definitely better than getting yourself into something you can't handle, or falling over from sheer exhaustion

  3. #3
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    Get out and ride, ride, ride. There is no way to get better or more comfortable if you bike is sitting in the garage, minimum 3x/week is what I need to see real improvement in both cardio and confidence.

    There is always going to be someone faster, stronger and more confident than you, no matter how long you ride. Leave your ego at home.

    Bike down for fun, bike up for chocolate and beer.

    Take a lesson, or at least ride with patient people who are better than you.

    Focus on one or two things on a ride that you have not cleared before. Recognizing those small improvements help with confidence.

    Get a professional bike fitting.

    Learn basic maintenance and cleaning of your bike. (I still need to work on this, I am so hooped if I blow a tire without my SO around).

  4. #4
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    Be patient with yourself and don't give up. If you 'ride, ride, ride', you'll get there.

    If you can't find a clinic or lessons, get Lee McCormack's "Mastering Mountain Bike Skills" and read it several times.

  5. #5
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    At some point you will probably cry, either from a fall or frustration, don't worry we have all done it.

  6. #6
    I like mtn biking, too
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    These are really great Arsbars! It got me thinking about things I wish I had known, or that helped me out:

    1) Before purchasing an expensive new bike - take the time to demo lots of different bikes.

    2) Allow the local bike shop to do a proper fitting and make suggestions about components rather than just opting for the cheapest build kit that the bike maker offers. You will appreciate and take care of and get more out of your expensive bike if it is configured just right for you.

    3) Discover what you enjoy most about riding, and follow your own passion. Did you get a big rush from your first time clearing big roots and rocks? Do you seem to want to ride all day when others are ready to hang it up? Do you feel like pushing harder up the hills? Are you just enjoying seeing the improvements in your fitness? Do you just want to explore new trails and enjoy new scenery? Mountain biking is very diverse, creative and individual, so give yourself appropriate goals, find the routes and create the type of rides that you enjoy most, and find others with similar passions. I guess the same can be said in other areas of life.

    4) Most importantly, see my signature.
    Never use your face as a brake pad.
    -Jake Watson

  7. #7
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    Look at where you want to go and your bike will follow.

    Focus ahead and stop looking at the front tire.


    Look where you want to go !

    Yes repeating myself until I get it

  8. #8
    Team Chilidog!
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    Quote Originally Posted by cleopatra999 View Post
    At some point you will probably cry, either from a fall or frustration, don't worry we have all done it.
    This.

    My first year riding, I had a bad fall and wanted to sell my bike. Didn't happen, but those frustrations happen.

    (taking into account what others have said)

    #20 Keep your weight in your feet, not in your seat. I can't tell you how many people ride with their butt glued to their saddle. If you stand on your pedals, you have much better control of the bike, especially in technical situations.

    #21 Scout a technical section and walk the line you would take.

    #22 Stay relaxed and be playful on the bike. Your bike can handle much more than you can, so trust it and have a good time. Not feeling it today? Walk it and try again later (this goes to what someone else posted earlier about not being afraid to walk).

    #23 Don't watch your front wheel. It knows where it's supposed to go.

  9. #9
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    These are great, keep them going!!
    Bike Shop Girl Empowering women in cycling

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by miatagal96 View Post
    If you can't find a clinic or lessons, get Lee McCormack's "Mastering Mountain Bike Skills" and read it several times.
    Skills clinics are worth it if you can get to one. We tend to say "practice makes perfect", but not if you don't know what you're practicing... You'll get more fit from getting out there and riding, and you'll eventually learn things through trial and error, but unless you're a visual learner who can naturally figure things out by just watching others (and hopefully the others you're watching are actually doing things right vs. just being more fearless than you are...), that can be the long and painful way to try to improve. Breaking things down step by step and learning the fundamentals will save you a lot of frustration!

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by cleopatra999 View Post
    At some point you will probably cry, either from a fall or frustration, don't worry we have all done it.
    This happened to me on my last ride because I couldn't keep up with the boys who had been doing the trail for a long time. Glad to have my boyfriend hang back with me and support and encourage me to push through it.

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by cleopatra999 View Post
    At some point you will probably cry, either from a fall or frustration, don't worry we have all done it.
    LOL, I love this! Sometimes it's not a good day unless I cry a few times. I can be an emotional person, so sometimes its just what I have to do to let out stress and frustration!

  13. #13
    I like mtn biking, too
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    I think my first hard climb had me doubled over for 10 minutes trying to puke. Crying or puking - you'll be hooked anyway by the euphoria of clearing some rocks for the first time or getting that fix of cruising down some sweet flowy singletrack. Brace yourself for the wild ride ahead...

    And try platform pedals with grippy soled shoes like 5-10's first. Don't buy the hype that you have to start off with clipless pedals. It is not required for mountain biking, and you can go your whole life without clipless on a MTB and have a wonderful time (a more fun time, with a faster progression no doubt).
    Never use your face as a brake pad.
    -Jake Watson

  14. #14
    see me rollin, they hatin
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    All of the above!

    - dont let somebody convince you a big rock/log is "easy". Remind them, that they are more experienced, and may not remember what its like to be a beginner.

    - ride within your limits, if something makes you feel uncomfortable, then dont ride it. But at the same time, at least give a half attempt if you can! you have to find a balance. If you see a big log, and know you probably wont make it over, then at least try hard enough to get the front wheel over. you'll feel better to even make that half attempt. Eventually, that half attempt will turn into a complete attempt!

    - practice lifting your front wheel in the yard. i cant do super wheelies or anthing like that, but getting the hang pulling up the front wheel, even a few inches, will help clear logs.

    - yeah, you might cry. i have! maybe even throw up! often, the puking (for me anyway) happens if you eat a big breakfast, and then start climbing huge hills in the beginning of the ride. Pace yourself, and warm up.

    - splurging (at least a little) on good grippy tires will increase confidence, especially on slippery roots or corners. i dont have fast tires at all. Actually, they are pretty damn slow! but i'm not all that concerned with speed, i prefer technical handling as a skill i want to build.

    - i echo what somebody said about commitment. yeah, 2+ times a week, at least, is what you probably need to build stamina and skills. weekend warriors tend to hurt themselves. If you dont want to do it that much (assuming you have the time) then maybe its not the sport for you. You should know early on if the suffering is worth the fun you're having.
    fap

  15. #15
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    thanks to everyone for posting this! So relieved to find a place about mountain biking that is women specific. First time back on a bike in 16 years and first time on a mountain bike ever. I knew I was in for a physical challenge but it wasn't until this last weekend that I realized what an emotional journey it would be for me as well. I cried, I hiked my bike, I felt embarassed knowing my ass was eating my seat, and ridiculousthat I was probably the only person not only walking the bike UP the hill, but down it part of the way too. My entire body was pushed to the limit and I had to get off because I felt like I could no longer control my bike because I was so exhausted. I had to deal with the bf, who was very patient to wait for me rather than just leaving me in his dust, but who also said "I don[t understand why going downhill is so hard, just let the bike do it, just roll". He didn't realize that it took every ounce of energy and for me to hang on for dear life and steer the damn thing. I didn't feel scared at all, which I'm really proud of. But looking back at what I overcame this weekend, I feel like I should have been scared. All I can say is the feeling of not only riding the bike, but overcoming obstacles, physical and emotional is really therapeutic and I'm glad to have found a forum of other women who sound like they get it too!

  16. #16
    SP Singletrack rocks
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    Quote Originally Posted by connie View Post
    Skills clinics are worth it if you can get to one. We tend to say "practice makes perfect", but not if you don't know what you're practicing... You'll get more fit from getting out there and riding, and you'll eventually learn things through trial and error, but unless you're a visual learner who can naturally figure things out by just watching others (and hopefully the others you're watching are actually doing things right vs. just being more fearless than you are...), that can be the long and painful way to try to improve. Breaking things down step by step and learning the fundamentals will save you a lot of frustration!

    buttin into the women lounge, but "practice make permanent, good practice make perfect"

  17. #17
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    Top 10 Things a Newb Should Know:

    1. You don't have to spend $5k for a good bike, but you'll look better on the trails if you do.
    2. Don't get all of your information from online forums and magazines. Talk to actual people who ride about their bikes.
    3. Spandex is for puss!es. No, really, it is.
    4. Specialized bikes are garbage. Ask the kids in China who made them.
    5. DH riding isn't really mountain biking. See, you can never really only ride downhill. Real mountains require you to ride up them as well, which is what real women do.
    6. Learn to ride better by riding more and in groups of riders more skilled than yourself. Look for a group on Meetup.com.
    7. Half of riding is anticipating which gear you need to be in ahead of time. The other half is getting into that gear at the right time.
    8. There will be a group of 4-5 filipino guys on $7k bikes ahead just around the bend. Do not look them in the eyes. Just keep riding!
    9. Trek will at one point or another buy the company that made the bike you're riding now, whore out their name for a few years, then throw it away like a used tampon.
    10. There are not too many bikes to choose from. There are exactly as many bikes on the market as the market will support. Pick one.
    11. If you're about to post that I wrote eleven items in my ten item list, you're going to be one of the jerks on this forum who starts arguments and railroads otherwise good threads. Delete your account now.

  18. #18
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    All great posts! Love it. I'm not a woman but have been riding for many, many years and have ridden all over the place with many people of many levels.

    One of my friends coined this term - Time In The Saddle (T.I.T.S.). We all need more. This fits on so many levels with bike fit, bike feel, riding up, riding down, riding over roots, rocks and so on. The experiences and fun factor never ends.

    The OP #10 was one of the best. You don't have to have a fancy bike to have fun. My other friend also coined on a mountain bike you can be 9 years old forever. Thanks so much for sharing, it's a great post for everyone!

  19. #19
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    Just my opinion here - but here are 10 things I would have found helpful as a beginner.

    (1) If you ride enough and are challenging yourself, you will eventually fall. I had a particularly nasty fall over the weekend. Slid out going way too fast in a turn and had to walk my bruised and battered body back up the trail and to the car.

    (2) Carry a small first aid kit. You just never know. I recommend some alcohol pads, bandaids, and some pain killer.

    (3) Speaking of sliding out - learn how to corner really well. Keep practicing until you find the right balance. This is currently on my to-do list.

    (4) I agree with everyone who said flat pedals and sticky shoes. 5-10's have changed my riding for the better! I have never and will never ride with clip ins. I don't like feeling like I can't quickly get unattached to my bike, or put a foot down if I need to. And there have been many times when I've needed to.

    (5) Climbing is hard for beginners, especially when you feel like your legs are concrete blocks and your lungs may blow up. Find your granny gear and spin. Do what you need to do to keep moving, even slowly. Just try not to stop. Keep at it and you will find that every time you ride you are building your fitness and endurance. It will get easier and easier and at some point you may find that you enjoy the climbing as much as the downhill.

    (6) I agree with people who mention riding with people who are better riders than you. I ride with my husband and that is fun and challenging. But at the same time I think it would be equally fun to ride with other women at a similar skill level as me. With better riders, I never feel like I can keep up and I don't like feeling like I'm making people wait for me. I think there are pros and cons either way - just find some supportive and patient people you like and ride as much as you can.

    (7) There is no shame in getting off your bike and walking down something you find too challenging to ride over. Walking it is better than getting hurt and then not being able to ride.

    (8) Invest in some decent glasses that are less likely to fog up. They will protect your eyes from dust and rocks and prevent you from feeling completely frustrated that you have to stop to clean your glases - or ride with limited visibility.

    (9) Carry some sort of energy/electrolite replacement. You never know when you may need a little snack to help you get over some difficult hills. This has helped me on some longer rides.

    (10) Invest in a couple of really good wicking jerseys or tanks. You'll stay comfortable and cool on rides.

  20. #20
    I just wanna ride my bike
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    - Master basic bike handling skills first (body positioning, braking, cornering, pedaling); the "bigger" stuff will come later. Take a few lessons and you'll be much happier and more confident on the trails.

    - EAT BEFORE riding. You'll feel better and have more energy to last longer (and won't drive your riding partners nuts because you've bonked half way through a ride).

    - A lot of mountain biking is mental. Keep an open mind, share your fears and successes, and most importantly IMHO, enjoy the ride for what it is and have fun.

  21. #21
    Hooked
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    Great thread! Keep em coming!

    Agree so much on the clinic, lesson thing. Not sure I woulda stayed in this sport without learning the basics. And as I ride I often mentally remember words from my coaches that get me though places... Either by self correcting something they'd pointed out, or giving me courage to do something in the real world/trail they'd taught me at the class.
    My blog - this, that, travel, garden, bikes, fitness, family, whatever

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  22. #22
    It's about showing up.
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    MTB is an advanced category of cycling.
    I don't rattle.

  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by skarin View Post

    (3) Speaking of sliding out - learn how to corner really well. Keep practicing until you find the right balance. This is currently on my to-do list.
    I thought this was a pretty good how-to. If nothing else, the guy has a cool accent...
    Cornering Video - Pinkbike
    whatever...

  24. #24
    ~*~*~*~*~
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    Balance is everything in biking. Better your balance by practicing track stands; lay a 2" x 6" on the ground and keep trying until you can ride all the way across it - then do it with a 2" x 4"; get a balance board, or stand on one foot while you brush your teeth.




    .

  25. #25
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    Awesome thread!

    Learn how to bunny hop

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