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  1. #1
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    Green-blue-black progression

    How do I know when I'm ready to tackle the next level? I've only tried the green trail at one of my local places. Do I just head down the blue trail and accept that it will probably be pretty ugly at first?

  2. #2
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    The only way to progress is to just do it. I went from all green trails to blue in a couple of months. I did it just by riding down the trail. If a section looks difficult, I would walk my bike through it first to get a feel and I would do 1 of 2 things: session it or just do it next time. Years later, I am tackling diamond trails and having a great time.

    In the end, you just have to do it but be smart about it and take baby steps until you are ready to go full speed down the new trails.
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  3. #3
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    There's no shame in walking a section before riding it. Keep in mind that one trail center's "Blue" and "Black Diamond" trails are not necessarily equivalent to another trail center's ratings.

    Also, sometimes trails are moved up in rating simply because of large climbs or areas where a wreck would be of high consequence (falling off the side of a cliff for example). So these trails might not be more technically demanding, but the consequences of messing up are much higher.
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  4. #4
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    Just try it. Worst comes to worse you walk features. Some trails are rated harder due to steeper climbs and more fitness needed. Others are due to tech features and ratings are often relative to the other trails close by.
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  5. #5
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    You say you've only tried one green trail so far. How did it go? How challenging was it for you?

    Stepping up to the next level on trail rating is probably going to increase the challenge all across the board. If you're not pretty comfortable riding easier stuff, it might be too much of a change for you. But that depends on you and on how big of a difference there is between the difficulties of the trails you ride (or want to).

    When deciding whether to try a new trail or not, you need to be very aware of your own abilities. You should research how long said trail is and how much climbing it has, compare to what you've already ridden, and decide if your fitness level can handle that. Also, with regard to technical challenges, you also need to know what you're comfortable with so you can make intelligent decisions about when to walk. Probably the thing that gets people into the most trouble is a failure in their decision-making, not a failure in their riding skills.

  6. #6
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    I'm an intermediate rider who started riding almost 2 years ago. Thanks to some time riding BMX on the street as a kid + some time on dirt bikes when I was a teenager, I jumped right into blue trails, where I've been most comfortable ever since.

    But I've gone from riding around all the features on the blue trails, to hitting every single feature, and I have just barely started dabbling in black trails (ridden parts of 2 of them).

    Honestly, the best two indicators that I have used are:

    1) Are you doing all/most of the optional features on the trails you're currently riding?

    2) Do you find yourself looking at the next difficulty of trails, and thinking to yourself "that looks kind of fun"?

    Ideally you'll be able to walk parts of the trail first, or maybe there are optional ride-arounds available to let you just take a chill ride down at first. Baring that, I do find it useful to look at gopro footage of the trails in question. However, the gopro effect is real, so keep in mind that if something looks "kind of sketchy" on camera, its most assuridly way, way scarier in person.

    EDIT: In my area (PNW), it seems like on most trails, the optional features for the green trails, are the "standard" features on the blue trails. And they are usually steeper/faster and/or more technical.

    Then Blue trails seem to have optional "black" features, where again they are the "standard" features on black trails.

    I.E. on a green trail, you might see an optional tabletop jump/8in drop on the side of the trail, but the main path is around it.

    On Blue trails, the tabletop is in the middle of the trail as is the 8in drop, but there is an optional 2ft drop off on the side (like a black). So what was optional on green trails, is now "mandatory" on the blue.

  7. #7
    since 4/10/2009
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    Quote Originally Posted by ocnLogan View Post
    However, the gopro effect is real, so keep in mind that if something looks "kind of sketchy" on camera, its most assuridly way, way scarier in person.
    Another aspect of the gopro effect...selective editing to remove the sketchiest section of trail from the vid completely.

    Took the wife out to a trail years ago that was new to us both. We knew the climb up would be rough, and it involved stretches of hike-a-bike mostly because it was so steep and we were already tired. The descent we were headed to looked fun on the videos I watched online. But when we got there, the first mile made my wife cry because it was just a boulder field (I had a blast on it, but I'm a more advanced rider). The trail was "rated" as an intermediate trail and she had to walk the whole thing, which crushed her confidence. We were miles out there and there wasn't really another option at that point but to continue.

    None of the trail reviews I consulted even mentioned that part of the trail. It got fun for my wife AFTER that, which was the only thing that saved the ride as a whole. You have to be careful because sometimes the rating marked on trailhead signs and official literature is drastically different from how it actually rides.

  8. #8
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    Go for it but ride within your limits. Keep in mind that as you progress as a rider your focus should be on developing and mastering skills, not thinking about leveling up through green, blue, black trails. You're ready to try a feature or section of trail when you're confident you can do it. Some riders' progression is more like "Well I didn't die on that 2ft drop, I guess I'm ready for 4ft". By all means check out the more advanced trails but use some common sense and if there's something you're not comfortable with go find the easier version and session that.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by Harold View Post
    Another aspect of the gopro effect...selective editing to remove the sketchiest section of trail from the vid completely.

    Took the wife out to a trail years ago that was new to us both. We knew the climb up would be rough, and it involved stretches of hike-a-bike mostly because it was so steep and we were already tired. The descent we were headed to looked fun on the videos I watched online. But when we got there, the first mile made my wife cry because it was just a boulder field (I had a blast on it, but I'm a more advanced rider). The trail was "rated" as an intermediate trail and she had to walk the whole thing, which crushed her confidence. We were miles out there and there wasn't really another option at that point but to continue.

    None of the trail reviews I consulted even mentioned that part of the trail. It got fun for my wife AFTER that, which was the only thing that saved the ride as a whole. You have to be careful because sometimes the rating marked on trailhead signs and official literature is drastically different from how it actually rides.
    Very true. I get suspicious of any footage with noticeable gaps in the trail, particularly on the downhill portions, especially if they don't mention why (ie, if they skip a lot of the climb because its boring and not worth mentioning, doesn't bother me).

    Glad you and your wife salvaged that ride .

    I succumbed to the gopro effect when taking a buddy out for his first time, and like my second ride. We climbed all of the front of Ragin River, and rode upper poppin tops (black) through down to lower flow state (green).

    I'd watched a bunch of videos, and talked to a guy I work with who rides there often, and felt it was going to be fine. The gopro hadn't lied about the flow/style of the trail, meaning, everything was rollable, no dangerous features, etc. But it "lied" about the grade, and speed. And this is how I learned about the gopro effect.

    I rode it fine (meaning, didn't crash), but as it was my friends first ride, he walked a fair portion of the black trail, just because the grade was too steep, and his bike handling skills were pretty low at the time.

    We joke about it now at least .

    Quote Originally Posted by jeremy3220 View Post
    Go for it but ride within your limits. Keep in mind that as you progress as a rider your focus should be on developing and mastering skills, not thinking about leveling up through green, blue, black trails. You're ready to try a feature or section of trail when you're confident you can do it. Some riders' progression is more like "Well I didn't die on that 2ft drop, I guess I'm ready for 4ft". By all means check out the more advanced trails but use some common sense and if there's something you're not comfortable with go find the easier version and session that.
    This is exactly my experience. I started progressing on drops a fair bit this year, so I decided to push it more. I worked from the small/medium drops on voodoo child (blue trail here in the PNW at Duthie Hill), up to the largest drops on that trail.

    Once I finished progressing on that trail, I started looking for other trails with drops, to try larger/different versions of drops (different approaches, different angles/etc, trying to nail my technique). So I hit the black optional drop on Ryans line (blue trail), and then eventually the entrance drop on HLC (Black trail).

    But on jumps, I'm still solidly in the green/blue. I clear the blue jumps, but I still feel like I'm absorbing the lips/dead sailoring more than I should be. So I'm staying away from black jump trails (or anything with gaps) for now.

  10. #10
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    Your bike has a XCR coil fork with some kind of rebound damping and a Shimano MT200 front brake.
    Those are the two components you'll be relying on when going down steeper rocky/rooty trails marked as Blacks.
    If the fork gets overwhelmed you'll be pulling hard on that brake and maybe wanting more stopping power.
    If you do need more the Shimano MT520 is a 4 piston under the radar less expensive model you can bolt right on the front without cutting the hose and bleeding the system. Most of the stopping power is your front brake. Don't bother with the rear now. Do that later.
    The fork has plastic bushings inside instead of metal like higher level forks. It'll wear quickly. A Raidon air is a cheap alternative on ebay.

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by ocnLogan View Post
    This is exactly my experience. I started progressing on drops a fair bit this year, so I decided to push it more. I worked from the small/medium drops on voodoo child (blue trail here in the PNW at Duthie Hill), up to the largest drops on that trail.
    I love riding Braveheart! It's been a while since I've ridden up at Duthie Hill. Most of the time, I just don't feel like making the trip up there from the Tacoma area
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  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by Battery View Post
    I love riding Braveheart! It's been a while since I've ridden up at Duthie Hill. Most of the time, I just don't feel like making the trip up there from the Tacoma area
    Thats a pretty good drive to make it up here for sure. I don't think I've ever driven that far to go riding yet.

    Believe it or not, I've never ridden Braveheart. I've done all the other longer XC style loops at Duthie, but not that one for some reason.

    Typically when I make it over to Duthie, I'm trying to work on something specific (Drops, Jumps, etc) that is a bit harder to session/repeat on other trails.

    I'll make sure to try it next time I'm down there though (whenever that ends up being :/).

    Hope your back (I think?) is feeling better!

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by ocnLogan View Post
    Thats a pretty good drive to make it up here for sure. I don't think I've ever driven that far to go riding yet.

    Believe it or not, I've never ridden Braveheart. I've done all the other longer XC style loops at Duthie, but not that one for some reason.

    Typically when I make it over to Duthie, I'm trying to work on something specific (Drops, Jumps, etc) that is a bit harder to session/repeat on other trails.

    I'll make sure to try it next time I'm down there though (whenever that ends up being :/).

    Hope your back (I think?) is feeling better!
    Surprisingly my back does feel better! Thanks for asking. Thanks to the VA, I started acupuncture treatment and it's been helping.

    Braveheart is a fun trail. It starts with a rock garden and goes right into a log climb and eventually leads to a hill climb. It seems that ridres are scared to death of the rock garden. Over the years, these riders eventually formed a bypass just from riding around it. I don't know if Evergreen fixed it since then but geez...just ride over the rock garden! I also have the same problem with another rock garden down here at Swan Creek.
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  14. #14
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    Another option is to find a skills class . You can learn a lot just by trying things ,do you know how to wheelie, bunny hop, manual, ride one handed or no hands, ride in a circle slow without putting your foot down, track stand, nose wheelie ,ride a 2 by 4 8 feet without falling off of it?

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by ocnLogan View Post
    But on jumps, I'm still solidly in the green/blue. I clear the blue jumps, but I still feel like I'm absorbing the lips/dead sailoring more than I should be. So I'm staying away from black jump trails (or anything with gaps) for now.
    Unfortunately for those new to jumping, you have to learn to boost the jumps before you learn to absorb/squash them. This can mess with new riders because pumping the jump probably feels like they're going to get sent to the moon. However, for those new to jumping, trying to stay low and get to the landing as soon as possible is a recipe for lawn darting into the wrong side of the landing. So assuming someone can bunny hop proficiently, my next recommendation is to find a small/medium jump you're comfortable with and practice boosting it, practice controlling the pitch of the bike in the air, practice landing both wheels at the same time, rear wheel first, front wheel first, try a bar turn, try wiggling the bike left and right in the air a bit, etc. In other words, get to where you have full control over the bike while jumping. If you're locked into a certain mindset while jumping, like "hang on and survive" or "get the front wheel to the landing asap", that's not going to scale up well on bigger jumps.

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by rangeriderdave View Post
    Another option is to find a skills class . You can learn a lot just by trying things ,do you know how to wheelie, bunny hop, manual, ride one handed or no hands, ride in a circle slow without putting your foot down, track stand, nose wheelie ,ride a 2 by 4 8 feet without falling off of it?
    This is a good idea, even if it may be really hard to do right now, depending on where you live.

    The upside? Its mostly stuff you can practice on your driveway at home. Just watch some youtube videos on it, and get practicing.

    I've been drawing out really akwardly tight "trails" on my driveway with my kids sidewalk chalk lately for us all to ride. So I'm getting some practice doing track stands, endo turns, skinnies, etc, all while just riding around on the driveway with my 4 yr old.

    Quote Originally Posted by jeremy3220 View Post
    Unfortunately for those new to jumping, you have to learn to boost the jumps before you learn to absorb/squash them. This can mess with new riders because pumping the jump probably feels like they're going to get sent to the moon. However, for those new to jumping, trying to stay low and get to the landing as soon as possible is a recipe for lawn darting into the wrong side of the landing. So assuming someone can bunny hop proficiently, my next recommendation is to find a small/medium jump you're comfortable with and practice boosting it, practice controlling the pitch of the bike in the air, practice landing both wheels at the same time, rear wheel first, front wheel first, try a bar turn, try wiggling the bike left and right in the air a bit, etc. In other words, get to where you have full control over the bike while jumping. If you're locked into a certain mindset while jumping, like "hang on and survive" or "get the front wheel to the landing asap", that's not going to scale up well on bigger jumps.
    This is why I said I'm still a green/blue jumper actually. Just because I know I'm not boosting the jumps enough, even though I'm clearing them. Its just because I still feel uncomfortable any time the lips get "poppy" (or any time the lip + jump height is high up).

    I've built a small trail in my backyard since COVID, and its got a small jump on it. I'm also considering building a small kicker to jump around with on the driveway, for more practice of course.

    I can't manual very well, and I can bunnyhop, but not more than like 8-12in or so. So clearly I have more work to do .

    But basically my plan is to work on jumps until they "click" for my like drops have. I'm no pro at drops, but I feel very comfortable on most drops in the 1-5ft range now, whereas last year about 1.5ft was my max, and that felt super sketchy.

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by kkris View Post
    How do I know when I'm ready to tackle the next level? I've only tried the green trail at one of my local places. Do I just head down the blue trail and accept that it will probably be pretty ugly at first?
    I've been riding mtbs since August of last year. But I spent my teens and 20's on a BMX, dirt jumping and riding street. So I had a solid basic skill set. But I started riding blues and parts of black trails right away. Yes there was lots of features or things I couldn't ride or even crashed on. But I firmly believe you don't progress by riding the same thing over and over. Go out and try a blue trail. Go whatever speed you feel comfortable with. Walk it if you need to. Chances are you will be your own worse critic. No one else out there will care.

  18. #18
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    Great information here! Looking forward to the mountain biking park opening up in my area
    to progress on my new FS.

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by NorCal_In_AZ View Post
    No one else out there will care.
    The real issue is not whether anyone will care (there are people who do, and they're of course not worth your time), but whether a person has the ability to assess risk appropriately and can avoid injuring themselves. It's not hard to realize that there's a lot of people who have not developed this ability (or that they ever will).

    The suggestions prior have been (more or less, in not so many words - but I am saying it this way now) to take a conscious, measured approach to progression in a way that minimizes risk yet maximizes skill development.

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