beginner fitness and skill questions...- Mtbr.com
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  1. #1
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    beginner fitness and skill questions...

    being new to the sport (ive been riding for a little over a month now) ive put about 40 trail miles on my new bike. my last ride, i completed a 20 mile loop in about 3 hours (a few 5 min breaks).

    a few questions:

    i only get to ride on weekends. will that once a week (3-4 hour) ride slowly get my lungs and staminia up for longer, more difficult rides later on? or will i need to exercise during the week to advance my stamina?

    also, i'm concerned about my balance. right now, i need about 6-8 inches in runway width. i can forget about riding a 4" wide beam any longer that 10'. What's the best way to improve my balance? I am working on my track stand...which i can maintain 0 mph for about 10 secs before i need to pedal out or place a foot down. is this skill considered "beginner"....meaning that most mtbr's can do this easily? or is it a skill to be proud of?
    btw, i've played sports all my life (1st string basketball, football, tennis, ect), so im not a complete uncoordinated bafoon. i'm just trying to set a realistic level of progress expectation...

  2. #2
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    Quote Originally Posted by LSUTiger
    or will i need to exercise during the week to advance my stamina? ...
    Probably, once a week won't show improvement as fast.

    Quote Originally Posted by LSUTiger
    also, i'm concerned about my balance. right now, i need about 6-8 inches in runway width. i can forget about riding a 4" wide beam any longer that 10'. What's the best way to improve my balance? I am working on my track stand...which i can maintain 0 mph for about 10 secs before i need to pedal out or place a foot down. is this skill considered "beginner"....meaning that most mtbr's can do this easily? or is it a skill to be proud of? ...
    Not sure where you're going with this unless you are talking BMX. Buy some clipless pedals/shoes. You will learn your balance quickly.
    2010 Trek Rumblefish
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  3. #3
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    If you only ride once a week it's going to take you a lot longer to build fitness than if you were riding 3 times a week, for example. I have a road bike that I use to ride during the week since I can squeeze in a solid 60-90 minute ride most days. Before I had the road bike though, I just rode my mountain bike everywhere. It worked.
    :wq

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by LSUTiger
    a few questions:

    i only get to ride on weekends. will that once a week (3-4 hour) ride slowly get my lungs and staminia up for longer, more difficult rides later on? or will i need to exercise during the week to advance my stamina?

    also, i'm concerned about my balance. right now, i need about 6-8 inches in runway width. i can forget about riding a 4" wide beam any longer that 10'. What's the best way to improve my balance? I am working on my track stand...which i can maintain 0 mph for about 10 secs before i need to pedal out or place a foot down. is this skill considered "beginner"....meaning that most mtbr's can do this easily? or is it a skill to be proud of?
    btw, i've played sports all my life (1st string basketball, football, tennis, ect), so im not a complete uncoordinated bafoon. i'm just trying to set a realistic level of progress expectation...
    The fitness part is easy just keep riding, you'll have bad days and good days just warm up and go enjoy the trail don't start too strong you have one energy tank on each ride use it smart start easy til you find you rhythm then maintain it. If you are lucky some good day you'd have some extra boost of energy(adrenalin) and a quick shot of endorphin to take away the pain when you are trying to beat your personal record

    Keep practicing on the Track stand don't look at your front wheel, look ahead or a few feet in front of you that's how you are going to apply in the real situation. For example you are rolling up to a 18" drop but all you can see is the lip you can slowly roll to the lip or even track stand for a few second while your eye scan for the line and exit then when you are ready you just pump the front as you roll down the drop.

    It also seems like you are not scanning the trail ahead. Don't fix your eyes on what happening in front of your front tire instead look ahead start with 20ft then move up to 30ft and so on the farther you can scan the trail the better, smoother and more control you'd have as things don't come at you so quickly it would when you are so worry about what happen immediately in front of you.

    The example you gave like a small patch of trail you have to roll over is just a typical singletrack riding if you can spot the best line for entrance and then exit it makes execution more simple point your front to the entrance and look down the trail for the wider, smoother exit line and where to brake and just let the bike roll stay relax. Give it a try next weekend you go out and ride you'll have a good time

  5. #5
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    Once a week will probably show improvement at some point. It'd depend what you're doing in between... If during the week all you do is sit on the couch and eat fast food then riding once a week probably won't help much.

    If you can only get to trails once a week, try riding anywhere during the week. Got hills near you? Go sprint up the hill a few times during the week.

    As far as your balance, you are telling you can't ride in a straight line? I'm not mocking you, I just want to be sure that's what you're telling us.

    Balance will come with riding more. When I bomb around the city I find lines on the ground (sometimes they're painted, sometimes bricks in the sidewalk) and try to stay on those. That way if I fail, I'm not falling off anything! When I do this, I try to look pretty far ahead rather than what's 6 inches in front of my wheel.
    --NC
    2008 Kona Cowan // 2005 Kona Cowan // 2009 Giant Modem // 2009 department store IronHorse // 1970s Schwinn roadie

  6. #6
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    thanks for the help. i might try to get in a road ride midweek to help with the conditioning.

    as far as my balance, i can ride a straight line as long as that line is at least 6"-8" wide. i've seen vids of guys riding obstacles that looked not much wider than the tire. thats where i want to get. i may never be able to do a backflip on the bike, but i at least want to master the slow, tech stuff.

  7. #7
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    Normally I go through cyclic fitness levels dependent on season and usually get a very slow start in the spring since it rains here almost non-stop for a month, or so. What I have done different this year was to start a circuit training regimen (google Spartacus Workout) every other day for three days a week that focuses heavily on quad, core, and shoulder strength/endurance. Based on what results I'm seeing, I'm starting out stronger and much more fit this season than I usually finish with when winter hits hard.

    Also, I put in about an hour ride on my roller trainer on the off workout days for 3 days a week. This, I have found, works really well on building my balance and technical riding. That is, unless I find a day to go ride actual trails without screwing up the trails because of all the damn mud.

    And on the seventh day... I rest.

    Those two workout routines, I find, have really put me in good spot fitness-wise and skill-wise. The last dry day we had here, I was able to go and ride our hilly trails for 30 miles on my SS without much issue.

    Hope this helps!
    Trying to win hearts and minds, but willing to stomp them if necessary.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by LSUTiger
    thanks for the help. i might try to get in a road ride midweek to help with the conditioning.

    as far as my balance, i can ride a straight line as long as that line is at least 6"-8" wide. i've seen vids of guys riding obstacles that looked not much wider than the tire. thats where i want to get. i may never be able to do a backflip on the bike, but i at least want to master the slow, tech stuff.
    Just a hunch, but like I said, try looking further out. Rather than looking down at your front wheel... look 10' ahead. Look at where you want to go, not at what you're trying to avoid.
    --NC
    2008 Kona Cowan // 2005 Kona Cowan // 2009 Giant Modem // 2009 department store IronHorse // 1970s Schwinn roadie

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kona_CT
    Just a hunch, but like I said, try looking further out. Rather than looking down at your front wheel... look 10' ahead. Look at where you want to go, not at what you're trying to avoid.
    x2.

    Depending on your speed what is right in front of your wheel is already "gone" in terms of riding. As you get more comfortable with speed you will learn to keep your focus further out. Most people don't realize that their periferal (sp?) vision will keep you on the right line. The real key is to watch the right line and not the wrong one.

    When I am riding tight single track at speed, 10-20mph, I am watching 60-80' out. Or as far as I can see. As I progress through the line my brain has mapped my body and bike just falls in line. Likewise riding in such a way I have a 60-80' run to make corrections when my mind wanders.

    Slow lines require the same mental mapping. You just need to stay ahead of the bike and let your mind and body do the work.

    HTH
    Tight + Twisty = Tasty
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  10. #10
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    Good read. I was wondering all the same. I'd like my balance to be better as well. Let go of the steering and keep toting a straight line. All In time I guess. Keep at it! If you can't get on your bike during the week, try some exercises around the house. Squats, pushups, situps, etc. Not exactly the equivalent of being on your bike, but it's better than just sitting around. If you can afford a membership, 30 min at the gym helps. Hit the rowing machine or treadmill.

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by LSUTiger
    as far as my balance, i can ride a straight line as long as that line is at least 6"-8" wide. i've seen vids of guys riding obstacles that looked not much wider than the tire. thats where i want to get. i may never be able to do a backflip on the bike, but i at least want to master the slow, tech stuff.
    That could take a while, and you'll need a lot of practice to get there. Also keep in mind that not all mountain bikers are created equal, for instance I can ride loose narrow cliff edge trails all day yet I can barely stay on a curb for more than 50'. I just suck at balancing on things unless they're a good 8-12 inches wide, yet somehow I can ride a trail that's narrower than that. Go figure. I've practiced a lot and I'm better at it now than I was 10 years ago, but I still can't stay on anything narrower than a 2x6 for more than a couple bike lengths.

    But yeah, practice practice practice, find a curb and try to ride on it for as long as you can, once you can cruise down a whole block find a narrower curb and ride it some more, then keep doing that till you reach your goal or run out of curbs to ride.

  12. #12
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    keep up on the trackstands....one of the best skillz for MTB'ing IMHO (they help greatly with approaching technical sections)...

    as for riding skinnies?...i've always like riding curbs.....you'll know if you're 'off' and the fall won't kill ya
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