Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Guest Post: Kacie's Guide to Mountain Bike Riding

After I interviewed  Kacie I asked if she would be interested in doing a guest post for my blog. This is something that I hope to incorporate more in the future. If you have done an interview with me and there is a particular bike-related topic you'd love to submit a writing on-let me know!

One Gal’s Guide to Learn How to Ride a Mountain Bike

Learning anything new is such a fun challenge, especially learning how to mountain bike.  When I first started, I considered myself fairly athletic and in shape and really, how hard could this be?  My boyfriend at the time, now husband, surprised me with a Gary Fischer HiFi for my birthday six years ago and I was pumped.  He had such a strong love for the sport and I was excited to have an activity for us to do together.  I envisioned many vacations and weekends spent with the two of us exploring on our bikes. 
Then reality hit. Mountain biking is really mentally taxing, I didn’t ride like a pro and after a few trips to the Emergency Room, I was really questioning my love for this sport. My husband has been so patient and supportive through my mountain bike journey but that wasn’t without some real “come to Jesus” conversations and a few tears.  Erik just would tell me the faster I rode the easier it would get.  In hindsight, this was really good advice but at the time this didn’t resonate. I have been fortunate to ride with other rides (male and female) and here are a few lessons I have learned along the way. 

My current ride is a Lush 29 that my hubby painted pink with some sparkle accent.

Lesson One: Mountain Biking has a really steep learning curve
Mountain biking has such a steep learning curve and the only way to get better is to get on your bike. I know that sounds pretty obvious, but it’s the truth.  Included on this fun learning curve is falling. If you are new or trying to increase your skills, plan on falling a lot.  I don’t say this to scare anyone but to let anyone know that EVERYONE falls.  Don’t confuse falling with failing, if you fall that means that you are pushing yourself.



Lesson Two: Walk It Out
One of the best lessons I learned from going to the Trek Dirt Series Camp in Whistler, BC was it is ok to get off your bike and walk the trail and see what line your bike should take.  This concept had never occurred to me, you mean I can get off my bike!? Prior to going to the camp, I usually always just rode with my husband.  He has been riding for decades (literally) and it never occurred to him, that I didn’t know the basic mechanics and techniques to mountain biking. It was just one of the many light bulb moments I had across the two days.  It was amazing what seeing what it looked like and walking the trail allowed you to see, which translated to gaining some confidence and then you actually riding the feature or piece of the trail.  For me confidence is contagious, if I ride one feature successfully, I am more likely to ride the next one.  As a sidebar, I do really recommend finding a local bike camp and going to it, you will be amazed on how much you learn.


Lesson Three: Pick One Thing to Work on Each Ride
After about a year of riding with my husband, he had me start leading on trails. The purpose of this change was to force me to learn how to read a trail. Also, he wanted to be able to watch and see what I was doing to give me some advice.  His intention was coming from a good place but he quickly overloaded me with things to work on. This caused me to get frustrated and that snowballed to making more mistakes, riding slower and sometimes a full blown melt down on my part.  We now have the rule of ONE. I pick one thing that I want to work on for that ride. It might be speed, corning, minimal use of my breaks, riding features, etc. My focusing on one thing, I don’t get so overloaded and it helps me (and my husband) have a more enjoyable ride. Just this last week when on the trails, I had the goal of never using my breaks EVER.  This was actually pretty challenging but I quickly saw that it was a nervous habit I had formed and needed to break.


Lesson Three: Be Patient and Kind to Yourself
The best tip I can give is to be patient and kind to yourself. Rome wasn’t built in a day and neither will be your mountain bike ability.  Recognize progress and know some days will be rock solid and you will be awesome and other days, not so much.  Celebrate always with a victory beer (my favorite part of the ride) and keep it positive.  I encourage you to sign up for a bike race, camp or find a local women’s group to ride with.  I have really appreciated all that my husband has taught me but it is good to get perspective from other riders (male and female).  I read recently that only 10% of all mountain bikers are women and you are one of the few starting to build momentum for the sport. By making connections, you will be surprised how much this will help you along your journey.


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