One thing you wish you had known as a rookie rider- Mtbr.com
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  1. #1
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    One thing you wish you had known as a rookie rider

    Hello everyone!

    I am a new rider who just got my first real mountain bike and have just started experimenting with offroad trails and learning as I go from experience, my mountain biking friends, my LBS representatives, and these forums.

    I decided to create a thread where people could post the one thing they wish that they had known when they were just starting out mountain biking.

    I'll start off with that I wish I had known not to shift gears over extremely bumpy terrain and especially not while in a standing position applying force on the pedals.

  2. #2
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    i dunno... i grew up on bikes never got off one. i rode trails on bmx, switched to mtb.. it was just the natural progression. i guess the one thing that people should want to know is how to fix their bikes, instead of wasting money having the cables adjusted for insane amounts of money. everyone i know who rides who doesn't know how to fix their bikes wishes that they did.

  3. #3
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    To lean the bike and under your body and not your whole body when making a hard turn.

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by ou2mame View Post
    i dunno... i grew up on bikes never got off one. i rode trails on bmx, switched to mtb.. it was just the natural progression. i guess the one thing that people should want to know is how to fix their bikes, instead of wasting money having the cables adjusted for insane amounts of money. everyone i know who rides who doesn't know how to fix their bikes wishes that they did.
    Yeah since I got mine slightly used and a year since it was last ridden I got a LBS tune up but I would like to learn how to do most tuning and maintence myself as soon as I can.

  5. #5
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    Old and proven bike technology works well, is less expensive and likely has performance capability that far exceeds my skill as a rider.

    R

  6. #6
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    Tire weight and drag is not everything, so skip the slick fast tires and put the monster knobby tires on once you are more confidence you can get faster tires. You can't tell the difference on the climb you are still out of shape and feel slow anyways.

  7. #7
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    Sometimes answers on forums will be based on other's needs and desires, not yours.
    No, YOU don't understand. You're making an ass of yourself for all of eternity.

  8. #8
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    I wish I had known how expensive it was going to be. lol and that I will never have enough bikes. But if I had to choose one it would be a Stumpy.
    Mountain Biking is not a hobby. It's a lifestyle.

  9. #9
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    Tire pressure plays a huge role on how your bike handles and feels, aka traction. So many people think the higher the tire pressure, the faster the bike rides. Someone finally told me the exact opposite and it is amazing how much better a bike handles and feels when you drop down into the low 30's instead of 40's. If you are running tubeless you can run even lower.

    Noobs still continue to argue with me about this topic and believe 45 is the only way to ride.
    NOPE!

  10. #10
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    Don't panic grab the front brake

  11. #11
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    I wish I had realized that 99 percent of people have stories of their skills, fitness and abilities that are more based on wishful thinking and exaggeration than fact; not realizing that kept me from going on a lot of rides with people who I thought were so much better than I was. I also wished I had known that usually the people who don't talk much about their riding are the ones who truly have some sick skills.
    "You'll thank me when it's all said and done"

  12. #12
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    Oh, and I wish people would have told me right up front about how much skin I would lose and how many bruises and cuts I would get as a beginning rider, and that all those scabs and little aches and pains were perfectly normal for a beginner.
    "You'll thank me when it's all said and done"

  13. #13
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    I'm definitely still a beginning rider but i've learned to keep my legs lose and let the bikes suspension do it's job and work for me ( this is for a full suspension bike ). Once i learned that my speed really picked up. Arms and legs loose and wide. Doing that instead of getting tense and staying all tight and being all closed up will definitely show you an improvement.

  14. #14
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    I just wished it hadn't taken me so long to learn about bikes themselves and the difference between quality and crap.

  15. #15
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    ^^like him, wish some one showed me why not to buy a dept store bike when I first started.

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by deke505 View Post
    ^^like him, wish some one showed me why not to buy a dept store bike when I first started.
    So true a few more bucks and you can have a bike that needs less money spent on it and with the right upgrades can see you out for a few more years

  17. #17
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    All great replies, learning a lot so far.

    Yeah about dept store bikes, i actually found this website while looking for a review on a wally bike that i was 1 hour away from purchasing and from the posts on here for the guy asking about it I saw not only was he making a mistake but that the community here seemed friendly and very well informed. It was through you all that I found my current and first real bike purchase and I'm glad for it.

  18. #18
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    You go where you are looking so keep your eyes on the path, not the tree.

    Speed is your friend over the rough stuff.

    Big rings bend easily so learn how to clear trees/obstacles properly.
    Van G - Rider of The Don
    '14 Anthem 27.5 1

  19. #19
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    I wish I had known there are clubs with awesome people in them who will ride with you.

  20. #20
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    Well I am still a beginner but my advise to others is to ride diverse terrain. Around me the trails can differ greatly from faster flowing dirt to very tight rocky technical. You won't become a well rounded rider if you ride the same trails all the time. I stuck to riding one area which was fast and flowing for over a month and went back to the really technical stuff and felt like I never rode a bike in my life. It was actually pretty humbling (embarrassing) since I was getting rather good at the faster stuff.

  21. #21
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    I have a couple.

    1. Don't be afraid to ride with those that are better than you.. but not too much better.. it is no fun for them to wait on you... and trying "too much-too soon" can cause injury.. which will actually delay your progress.

    2. Concentrate further down the trail .. obstacles come up quick!

    3. Buy the best bike you can afford.. it will make you happier in the long run.

  22. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by sanjuro View Post
    Don't panic grab the front brake

    This

  23. #23
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    That it is worth the time, and effort to set the bike up as best you can. From seat/bar position, to suspension settings (compression/rebound) and even tire pressure.
    Like stated earlier, lower tire pressures, and Squishy suspension setups may feel slower/sluggish but can actually make you ride even faster.
    Even to this day, I laugh at how different my bike rides when I finally dial it in. Like night and day.
    Just found the "sweet spot" on my AM rig after riding it all Summer! Lol.
    Last edited by ghglenn; 09-26-2012 at 09:01 AM.

  24. #24
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    everything you read on the internet is true

  25. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by Van G View Post
    Big rings bend easily so learn how to clear trees/obstacles properly.
    This is true. I already replaced the big ring with a bash guard.

    What would you consider the best way to clear those obstacles? Go faster and pull up more?

  26. #26
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    Set aside the time to experiment and dial in your bike adjustments out on the trails (seat position, bar/brake lever position, tire/shock pressures etc...) you will get your bike dialed in much faster than waiting till after a ride and guessing what might work better for next time.

  27. #27
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    I can't just pick one!

    Even really good riders push their bike uphill sometimes.

    Buy the expensive fancy full suspension bike because you think it'll be kickass fun to ride, not because you think it's necessary for your trails.

    On a related note, it's not your bike slowing you down.

    Bring extra post-ride beer even when riding solo, because you never know when you'll meet up with folks on the trail.

  28. #28
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mr.Quint View Post
    This is true. I already replaced the big ring with a bash guard.

    What would you consider the best way to clear those obstacles? Go faster and pull up more?
    Slow down (within reason) and concentrate on technique. It's all about timing, and going faster makes it harder to get the timing right.

  29. #29
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    I wish I knew the importance of bike fit and got a proper fitting from the start, versus riding around with my seat 4" too low for half a year...

  30. #30
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    Quote Originally Posted by wmac View Post
    Sometimes answers on forums will be based on other's needs and desires, not yours.
    You got that right!
    They call me non-sequitur

  31. #31
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    I wish I had the internet when I was a noob. My skills inproved drastically when I started watching skills videos, and learning how to wrench on youtube saves me a lot of money. (the only thing I rely on the lbs for is headset press).

  32. #32
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    Don't panic grab the front brake -

    Learned this the hard way.

  33. #33
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    And look at the gap between the trees. Not the trees!

  34. #34
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    Lot's of good info here, I'm a cross over from dirtbike woods riding, and still do it quite often. My biggest tip to people it look where you're going, becasue you'll end up where your concentration lies. If you stare at that big drop into the creek next to you, you'll probably get to take that drop.

  35. #35
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    Went for my 4th ride this morning using the following tips and they helped immensely!

    1. Keeping eyes ahead on trail instead of on obstacles to avoid accidentally stealing into them.

    2. Deflating my tires a little bit. Had them at max PSI of 60 and downed them all the way to 35 and it was an impressive difference.

    3. Tilting the bike under me through turns instead of tilting my body with the bike.

  36. #36
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    Quote Originally Posted by KOL View Post
    Don't panic grab the front brake -

    Learned this the hard way.
    Yes, BUT...do learn to use the front brake. Its so much more powerful than the rear, and won't cause a skid.

    Also,don't brake in the middle of a corner, it can ruin your lean. Brake before the corner.

    .
    Don't let it get you down, but there's a good chance you were an accident.
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  37. #37
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    Quote Originally Posted by doctadocta View Post
    Yeah since I got mine slightly used and a year since it was last ridden I got a LBS tune up but I would like to learn how to do most tuning and maintence myself as soon as I can.
    Ask and ye shal recieve!

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  38. #38
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    Buying a full bike is a lot cheaper than building one. No matter how good the deals you get on the individual parts...

    Sent from my cm_tenderloin using Tapatalk 2

  39. #39
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    That if I ever stopped riding bikes, I will gain a **** load of weight!

  40. #40
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    When I miss a section and uncllip (or worse, fall over clipped in) I usually don't miss by much, so every little drop of momentum might be the difference between squeaky clean or walking up the rest of the hill. Find a pretty good line, commit to it, and capture all the gravity speed you can manage when headed into a technical climb.

  41. #41
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    Quote Originally Posted by phoenixnr View Post
    Buying a full bike is a lot cheaper than building one. No matter how good the deals you get on the individual parts...

    Sent from my cm_tenderloin using Tapatalk 2
    Word.

  42. #42
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    Ride for yourself and your own reasons.

    Back yourself. Chances are you probably CAN make that climb/rockgarden/drop/tech section.

    Don't pay too much attention to the opinions of others on bikes/parts/gear. As long as your bike fits correctly and you're enjoying the ride, then thats all that matters.

    Learn as much as you can from others, but similar to above, learn from their actions rather than their stories.

    Scrapes/blood/bruises are all part of the game!

    As others have said, learn to wrench on your own bike. It'll save you huge amounts of coin, plus you'll have the ability to patch and go on the trail.

  43. #43
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    1- Should have done it sooner
    2- Should have tried a 29er sooner
    3- Should have learned how to wrench my own bike sooner.

  44. #44
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    The bike will roll over a surprising amount of trail irregularities, as long as you keep it moving but don't otherwise disturb it too much.

    "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"

  45. #45
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    1) Tyre pressure and tyre choice.
    2) Get your sitbones measured and you'll have a better chance of finding the right seat from day 1.
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  46. #46
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    Quote Originally Posted by doctadocta View Post
    Went for my 4th ride this morning using the following tips and they helped immensely!

    1. Keeping eyes ahead on trail instead of on obstacles to avoid accidentally stealing into them.

    2. Deflating my tires a little bit. Had them at max PSI of 60 and downed them all the way to 35 and it was an impressive difference.

    3. Tilting the bike under me through turns instead of tilting my body with the bike.
    Yup. All true. Just figured out number 3 recently.

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  47. #47
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    Quote Originally Posted by cbrock450 View Post
    Tire pressure plays a huge role on how your bike handles and feels, aka traction. So many people think the higher the tire pressure, the faster the bike rides. Someone finally told me the exact opposite and it is amazing how much better a bike handles and feels when you drop down into the low 30's instead of 40's. If you are running tubeless you can run even lower.

    Noobs still continue to argue with me about this topic and believe 45 is the only way to ride.
    NOPE!
    This, of course, is dependant on the weight of the rider. At 260 lbs, a pressure lower than 40 is bad mojo and a sure flat for me.

  48. #48
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    Quote Originally Posted by DudeNudem View Post
    This, of course, is dependant on the weight of the rider. At 260 lbs, a pressure lower than 40 is bad mojo and a sure flat for me.
    All depends on the tyre size too, im 200lb and have run 2.4 Racing Raplhs at 20psi with no problems except for tons of grip If i change these to a 2.25 i cant run any less than 30psi without squirming and dinging rims. The tyre volume goes a long way to help you reduce tyre pressure and gain grip, even on my race bike i run 2.4RR's now.
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  49. #49
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    Just wanted to say thanks for all this info, lots of things for a beginner to think about.

  50. #50
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    Start on trails that you leave with a grin on your face and wanting more.

    Full suspension bikes, just like hard tails or fully rigid bikes, can all be ridden on paved trails.

    When in doubt, ride more and listen to others' bike hate less.
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  51. #51
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    Lots of good 411 so far.
    Here's one that has taken a few injuries to grasp.
    No matter the size, always beware of wooden bridges when wet, or leaf covered.
    Slippery as snot, the front wheel can wash-out so quickly your hands will never leave the grips.
    They've caused me more injured down-time than all other trail features combined.
    Wet off-angle roots, and algae-covered rocks are known to be tricky. Yet, until slammed hard, most do not realize just how slimy wood can get.

  52. #52
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    Quote Originally Posted by doctadocta View Post
    Hello everyone!

    I am a new rider who just got my first real mountain bike and have just started experimenting with offroad trails and learning as I go from experience, my mountain biking friends, my LBS representatives, and these forums.

    I decided to create a thread where people could post the one thing they wish that they had known when they were just starting out mountain biking.

    I'll start off with that I wish I had known not to shift gears over extremely bumpy terrain and especially not while in a standing position applying force on the pedals.
    Things I wish I had caught onto sooner:
    1- Light weight is over-rated. Yes, light is nice, but don't obsess over it.
    2- Real riding shorts DO make a difference.

    Much of everything else I can think of was just conventional wisdom at the time (late 90's) that has now changed, so a new rider is unlikely to make the mistakes I (and many others) did.
    15mm is a second-best solution to a problem that was already solved.

  53. #53
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    Quote Originally Posted by Flyin_W View Post
    Lots of good 411 so far.
    Here's one that has taken a few injuries to grasp.
    No matter the size, always beware of wooden bridges when wet, or leaf covered.
    Slippery as snot, the front wheel can wash-out so quickly your hands will never leave the grips.
    They've caused me more injured down-time than all other trail features combined.
    Wet off-angle roots, and algae-covered rocks are known to be tricky. Yet, until slammed hard, most do not realize just how slimy wood can get.
    +1 on this. Ribs take a long time to heal.

    Sent from my cm_tenderloin using Tapatalk 2

  54. #54
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    Quote Originally Posted by Flyin_W View Post
    No matter the size, always beware of wooden bridges when wet, or leaf covered.
    Slippery as snot, the front wheel can wash-out so quickly your hands will never leave the grips.
    They've caused me more injured down-time than all other trail features combined.
    Wet off-angle roots, and algae-covered rocks are known to be tricky. Yet, until slammed hard, most do not realize just how slimy wood can get.
    This is the most useful thing on the internet. Heed these words.

  55. #55
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    Dont lube your chain by spinning the cranks with your finger.........dont ask me how i know.

  56. #56
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    Quote Originally Posted by kapusta View Post
    Things I wish I had caught onto sooner:
    1- Light weight is over-rated. Yes, light is nice, but don't obsess over it.
    2- Real riding shorts DO make a difference.

    Much of everything else I can think of was just conventional wisdom at the time (late 90's) that has now changed, so a new rider is unlikely to make the mistakes I (and many others) did.
    Yeah just ordered a pair of nice shorts, looking forward to them. Being 6'1" and only 145 lbs you can just imagine how unfriendly my hard saddle is on my bony butt.

    Also loads of great info guys, thanks again for so many responses!

  57. #57
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    This thread is hella useful. I tried repping everyone in it but I hit the 24 hour limit.
    Don't let it get you down, but there's a good chance you were an accident.
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  58. #58
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    2nd year of racing almost done. Heres my 2 cents:

    1. You dont have to breath as fast as you peddle. HA!! Had to spend my first month almost hyperventilating in 90 degree heat before I figured this out. Breath nice and easy, control your breathing even when going fast.

    2. Speed helps you maneuver better. Going slower makes it harder, NOT easier.

    3. Look ahead NOT down, always!

    Ride on!!
    People ask me all the time "who beat you up"? I tell them "a tree". They just look at me funny....

  59. #59
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    Quote Originally Posted by pattongb View Post

    2. Speed helps you maneuver better. Going slower makes it harder, NOT easier.
    The trails around here are fairly rooty, this is one thing I always point out early in the ride when I take new riders out on the trail.

  60. #60
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    I wish I knew that you can't trust the gauge on your pump.

    Overpressurized tires are bad on loose dirt.

    My lesson involved blood and scars.

  61. #61
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    Definitely gotta be the fact I didn't start sooner. To think I thought MTB was lame in highschool. now i realize i was the lamo

  62. #62
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    Work on smoothly shifting to keep your pedaling at a consistent cadence, especially as you attack hills.

    Keep your arms and knees springy and loose and not rigidly locked up. These were the original "full suspension" on mountain bikes before all the mechanical shocks and links.

    Know that your butt will get sore in the saddle at the beginning of a new season and requires a few rides before it "toughens up" and feels normal again.

  63. #63
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    Back from another voyage out and tried out the mentioned methods for shifting while entering a climb and I was finally able to tackle a steep hill that usually would stall me out 1/3rd of the way up.

    The speed tip helped a lot too as I found a new course that is crazy rocky and the slower I went the more the rocks would persuade my bikes direction.

    A few more things I learned on the trails...

    1. Remember that your helmet makes your head just a bit taller and you have to duck a tiny bit more on low entry passes. Whacked the crap out of my head twice on low branches by not ducking enough through them.

    2. If you live somewhere where the sky clears and the temperature rises to nearly or above triple digits then don't bike at 4 in the afternoon. Even staying well hydrated and keeping to the shadiest parts of the trail I was only able to do about half as many miles as I was able to do on my morning runs. At one part the shear heat and sun had me so discombobulated that I missed the exit path from the trail and sent me back through a rough ride when I was already reaching my limit.

    Though with winter coming up I am looking forward to the added stamina I will have out there!

  64. #64
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    I wish I had known not to waste $200 on a lousy dept store bike first.
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  65. #65
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    I wish I had known how to approach deep sandy sections.

    Sand here is very, very rare, but the first time I tried to just casually pedal through it rapidly, it was not fun.

  66. #66
    _R_
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    pop the front wheel up when going off a drop. don't just try and ride through the drop because there's a good chance you'll go OTB

  67. #67
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    The more you ride, the easier it gets.

    No one ever told me that, but it is true. You slowly, but surely will turn into a well oiled machine if you ride enough. Everything will become easier and speed will increase without you realizing it. The only thing you can do during the transition is just have fun.

  68. #68
    I Tried Them ALL... SuperModerator
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    Confidence is king.... If you ride under constant fear - you'll MAKE yourself crash more than you really need to.

    Stay on the bike with both feet planted on the pedals, no matter what. The obstacles are NOT what makes you go down....it's YOU!
    Last edited by Cayenne_Pepa; 10-07-2012 at 08:38 AM.
    "This is a male-dominated forum... there will be lots of Testosterone sword-shaming here" ~ Kenfucius

  69. #69
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    been riding since I was a kid.

    I wish I had gotten a camelbak sooner... now the whole family has them and we can push harder for much longer.

  70. #70
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    Quote Originally Posted by doctadocta View Post
    Went for my 4th ride this morning using the following tips and they helped immensely!



    3. Tilting the bike under me through turns instead of tilting my body with the bike.
    This seriously has my head turned around. Coming off a sportbike and trackdays has me wanting to do the exact opposite. It feels so wrong!

  71. #71
    bigger than you.
    Reputation: Gigantic's Avatar
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    I whish I had bought a better bike.

  72. #72
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    Supermarket bikes are useless - i replaced mine with a better 2nd hand bike after 1 ride.

    Thanks for the tips guys

  73. #73
    Bikesexual
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    Thanks for the tip on the "no underwear under riding shorts" ! .. Much better
    Surly Krampus
    All City MMD
    Kona Unit
    Surly Cross-Check

  74. #74
    no trees are safe
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    Hmm...

    Don't lean your self into the corner. Lean your bike. It's good to know this from the beginning or else you'll develop a nasty habit. I still have to watch it or else I do it.

    Good platform pedals make miracles if you don't want to go clipless. Been riding with basic mtb pedals for over 2 years before I bought a good set of HT pedals with pins. The difference is AMAZING. These actually hold my feet in place when I go down stairs roots n stuff.

    Always carry a spare tube. Just trust me on this one.

  75. #75
    DIY all the way
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    If you're under the age of 30, do under no circumstances perform stuff like wheelies and so forth, in the presence of members of the opposite sex.

    I'd wish somebody told me that before I turned 30

    Magura

  76. #76
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    I got hurt with an over-use injury by doing a ride that was probably too far and difficult for my short experience. IT band injury - and YES - it does take 4-6 weeks of being off the bike to get better.

    When starting out, it's hard to decide .... I know I COULD do it, but SHOULD I do it?

    Sometimes you won't know until after you've tried.

  77. #77
    Biker Boater Boarder
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    When in doubt follow your gut!

  78. #78
    ****** to the dirt
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    Quote Originally Posted by SummitSurfer View Post
    When in doubt follow your gut!
    That is usually that's when I go othb.

  79. #79
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    Chris King hubs are suppose to make that noise! Ha ha
    Adios,
    "Chaco"

    Lots of kids tell me they want to be firefighters when they grow up, I tell them they can't do both!

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