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I live in MN and started mountain biking last summer and really fell in love with it, but have had a rough time getting started. I asked my BF to take me out to a place to try out and he took me to a fairly technical singletrack trail. While exhilarating and really fun in a lot of parts, it was also fairly disastrous (though created some cool new scars). After that, I went biking a few times on some beginner/intermediate trails by myself and had a blast, though I also thought that riding alone and pretty far from civilization might not be the best idea. I asked the BF to come out with me to a trail I had successfully ridden before and about 15 minutes into the ride, fell and injured myself pretty badly and enough that I was off the bike for awhile. So, I really really really want to do this, but don’t quite know how to approach it. I have tried getting other friends of mine interested in trying it, but they are all starting to get this glazed over expression when I talk bike, so I have moved away from that. We have a bunch of great trails here, I wonder if I should just pick an easier one and go at it alone. The BF has also offered to go back out with me, but I am sort of frustrated with where that leads; he is really good but also doesn’t/can’t really explain how to do things and thinks certain things are self-apparent (like “well, you just pick the line.” Ummm…I know what this means, but not really how to do it!!). There are group women’s mtb rides here that are welcome to riders of all experience levels, but I worry about holding all the other people back (and also have about 8 weeks until those start). This is frustrating because I really really love riding and want to learn how to do it better; I love being covered in mud and grass, I love the absolute exhilaration of going downhill. However, I am a bit scared after being injured and I don’t really know where to restart or what to do to learn how to get better. So, any advice/pointers/tips/help ya’ll could offer would be really appreciated. I am currently trying to get in miles on bike paths and dirt roads and doing a bit of skills work in fields (like working on balance, sharp turns, going through sand, etc.).
 

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Definitely ride with other women, whole different mindset compared to riding with men(not that I have anything against riding with men :p ). Women communicate differently and learn differently than men. Do not worry about being slower or less skilled than the other riders, if they say all skill levels welcome they expect all skill levels, including beginners such as yourself. Have fun!

Rita :)
 

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practice bike handling skills

GIRGirl said:
I live in MN and started mountain biking last summer and really fell in love with it, but have had a rough time getting started. I asked my BF to take me out to a place to try out and he took me to a fairly technical singletrack trail. While exhilarating and really fun in a lot of parts, it was also fairly disastrous (though created some cool new scars). After that, I went biking a few times on some beginner/intermediate trails by myself and had a blast, though I also thought that riding alone and pretty far from civilization might not be the best idea. I asked the BF to come out with me to a trail I had successfully ridden before and about 15 minutes into the ride, fell and injured myself pretty badly and enough that I was off the bike for awhile. So, I really really really want to do this, but don't quite know how to approach it. I have tried getting other friends of mine interested in trying it, but they are all starting to get this glazed over expression when I talk bike, so I have moved away from that. We have a bunch of great trails here, I wonder if I should just pick an easier one and go at it alone. The BF has also offered to go back out with me, but I am sort of frustrated with where that leads; he is really good but also doesn't/can't really explain how to do things and thinks certain things are self-apparent (like "well, you just pick the line." Ummm…I know what this means, but not really how to do it!!). There are group women's mtb rides here that are welcome to riders of all experience levels, but I worry about holding all the other people back (and also have about 8 weeks until those start). This is frustrating because I really really love riding and want to learn how to do it better; I love being covered in mud and grass, I love the absolute exhilaration of going downhill. However, I am a bit scared after being injured and I don't really know where to restart or what to do to learn how to get better. So, any advice/pointers/tips/help ya'll could offer would be really appreciated. I am currently trying to get in miles on bike paths and dirt roads and doing a bit of skills work in fields (like working on balance, sharp turns, going through sand, etc.).
You should just ride on beginner track for a few times to gain confidence in handling your bike. You don't need to ride with other women right now because you will be too focus on talking with other women not on your bike. At this time , you must concentrate on bike handling skills. Once you master it then you can go on to riding with other people. You can demonstrate your single track skill to them. They will be amazed by your improvement
 

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GIRgirl - if you can get yourself to any MTB clinics, that is a great place to learn skills and to get better. Especially any women-run ones.

I rode alot alone when I was beginning (still do actually) - there are pros and cons. Riding alone on a well used trail is certainly less isolating than being way out there - after all if you really crash hard its better if someone can find you. Also, being with someone helps with confidence on techy stuff (since they can call 911).

Pros are that you can approach things at your pace, and re-do things that you want when you want to.

One strategy is to pick a local trail that has a few challenges, but not too over your head, and ride it tons by yourself. You will gain lots of on bike time, and all that biking-motor-memory stuff.
 

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L1MEY
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If you're holding back because you're scared of hurting yourself again (totally understandable), you may want to get some body armour if you think it will give you confidence on the tough stuff. Don't worry about looking silly... looking silly is a lot better than looking at a broken bone. I almost always wear armour when riding alone so I don't end up stranded in the desert bleeding, and I occasionally wear it when I'm riding with others on an unfamiliar trails with lots of rocks.

Riding with other women is also a great idea :) Maybe you could go to a skills clinic as well if you have one nearby. My hubby and I are planning on attending one later in the year to improve our skills.

- Jen.
 

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we have all felt a bad when we were the slower one of the group. heck, i still do sometimes, but have learned that most riders don't mind waiting. now if the group is super fast and technical, that's another story. don't ride with them for a while because you'll get overwhelmed and even frustrated. another thing i've found is that if i try to keep up with a faster group from the beginning of the ride, i get burned out and then don't have any more energy - which adds to the frustration.
last year i was walking my dog in the mornings and afternoon but i was riding my bike instead (she walks w/o a leash, so i can follow her). while she sniffed and marked (yeah, i would stop and pick up #2 :rolleyes: ) i would practice doing tight circles and balancing. then i started riding in the gutter (the thing between the street and the sidewalk), riding on the lip of the sidewalk (that was hard!) and lifting my front wheel to jump from the street to the sidewalk. i learned a lot and i could tell that those little exercises helped me on the trails!
buy yourself some knee/shin protectors so that when you fall you don't skin them. i had a bad wreck and used those things for more than a year afterwards.
i can also relate to speaking to some lady friends and them having that glaze in their eyes hahahaha. they think we're weird, but the truth is that they don't know how much fun it is!
i ride alone a lot but here in arizona i don't feel nervous about the places i ride. hope this helped! happy trails!
 

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Glue Sniffer
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GIRGirl said:
There are group women's mtb rides here that are welcome to riders of all experience levels, but I worry about holding all the other people back (and also have about 8 weeks until those start).
I run a local women's ride and when I tell new riders about it, this is ALWAYS their concern.

When I hear this, I want to bang them over the head with a tire (that way it wouldn't hurt, but it'd get the point across).

Part of the very purpose of these rides is to offer a place where new riders can START! The truth is that most women who have a significant amount of riding experience don't care whether they are riding with the fellas or with the ladies. The reason experienced riders go to these rides is to:

1. Socialize with other women who dig the finer things in life (dirt and things covered in dirt).
2. Keep new women coming into the sport, 'cause it's just nice to see 'em on the trails.

So, everyone at these rides is either experienced and really digs helping out new riders. Or they are inexperienced and just starting the sport like you. Attend the ride. After a few rides you may find yourself now leading or helping out the uber-beginners.

So go to the damned ride! There is nothing finer than being around and helping out a new rider who is enthusiastic about the sport.
 

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cyclemaven.net
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I started in a very similar circumstance

My husband was just too strong on a bike for me to keep up with him. I gave up on consistently going riding with him for the first six months, and now I'm glad I did. Now he's the one keeping up.
Here's what I did:
-I ride locals that I solo hike. This allows me to know the trail that I ride in a different way. It always brings down the imtimadation factor of that trail for me.
-BUY PADS. Best investment I ever made. It's amazing how little owweees can be much more discouraging when you ride alone.
- start riding with other women. This IS the best thing I ever did for myself, since I started MTBing. I'm truly not a segragetionist, but it has been my anecdotal experience that, (in general) women (and Pacman :cool: ) have more patience, support, and empathy with other women. I just kept on giving shout outs in different forums on the web until I found my riding partners, the "gals".
 

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clinics

catzilla
last night i read your thread about one of your clinics and it was SO helpful! specially the instructions on doing trackstands 5-seconds at a time and the wheelies. gotta go out and try them this afternoon!
i used to live in west palm beach, fl but moved to phoenix az in 2001. thats when i started mtbiking. anyway, i'm thinking of visiting my friends in the fall and would like to attend one of your clinics even though i've been mtbiking for 3yrs. i'm sure i would learn lots and have a great time. when will you be having another one? and are you in the miami area?
 

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black & blue
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Impy said:
GIRgirl - if you can get yourself to any MTB clinics, that is a great place to learn skills and to get better. Especially any women-run ones.

I rode alot alone when I was beginning (still do actually) - there are pros and cons. Riding alone on a well used trail is certainly less isolating than being way out there - after all if you really crash hard its better if someone can find you. Also, being with someone helps with confidence on techy stuff (since they can call 911).

Pros are that you can approach things at your pace, and re-do things that you want when you want to.

One strategy is to pick a local trail that has a few challenges, but not too over your head, and ride it tons by yourself. You will gain lots of on bike time, and all that biking-motor-memory stuff.
I agree, definitely look for clinics! Here in California I went to Womens Only Weekend in Big Bear http://www.teambigbear.com I learned so many new skills and brushed up on the skills I knew. After attending, I was so charged up, and I had so much more confidence on my rides!

I think it's a good idea to ride with others. Aside from the obvious safety factor, the support, encouragement, and advice is important. Especially in the beginning. :D
 

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knee and elbow pads

yes, pads will give you confidence to try some things that you wouldn't if you didn't have them on. that's what i found out. it's like you forget about getting hurt because you know that if you fall you won't and that frees your mind to concentrate on the trail and finding/riding that dang line! :p
 

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Loose Nut Behind d' Wheel
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A few thoughts:

Definitely check out those women's rides that start in 8 weeks. I bet you'll find a lot of women like yourself that you can ride those easier and intermediate trails and learn with.

Practicing in the field is a good thing to do until those rides start. Get a 2"x6" and lay it on the ground. Practice riding from one end to the other without falling off. Graduate to a 2"x4", or put the 2"x6" up on some bricks with a ramp up to it. Lay down small logs and practice riding over them. Start with about 3" and work your way up.

Check with the LBS or local bike club to see if anyone there, male or female has better teaching skills than your BF. He may have good intentions and skills, but not everyone is good at teaching what they know.

Get some basic knee/shin and arm armor for damage control.

Have fun!

Kathy :^)
 

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Good for you!
I shared (share) similar frustrations. I group ride non-familiar trails with a bunch of guys, and they kill me. But they saw me improve from a bleeding disaster on a Raleigh, to the back of the pack on a Specialized, and soon they're gonna see me leading it on a Cannondale (if it kills me!).
I ride familiar trails alone, and I carry a cell phone, with the numbers of people who live close enough to the trails (and know them) that they can come scrape me up if need be ("I'm by log-and-rusty-fence, and bring a spatula").
So I found that combining pushing my limits with the group and coming back to something I was comfortable on kept me improving without destroying my confidence. Finding a riding buddy is always good, too. I have a friend who kills me on the climbs, but I give him a good run for his money on the descents. We get along quite nicely.
Keep the rubber side down...
 

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Don't worry, be happy!
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I can't really add anything that hasn't been said.... I too worked my way up from beginner with other women. Years later, it's still my favorite way to ride. You might ask around with your local bike clubs or shops to see if there are gals rides.

formica

edit: here's a skill camp list, nothing in your neck of the woods, but ask around there seems to be local stuff everywhere.
http://www.specialtyoutdoors.com/penny/biking/camplist.asp
 

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catzilla said:
I run a local women's ride and when I tell new riders about it, this is ALWAYS their concern.

When I hear this, I want to bang them over the head with a tire (that way it wouldn't hurt, but it'd get the point across).

Part of the very purpose of these rides is to offer a place where new riders can START! The truth is that most women who have a significant amount of riding experience don't care whether they are riding with the fellas or with the ladies. The reason experienced riders go to these rides is to:

1. Socialize with other women who dig the finer things in life (dirt and things covered in dirt).
2. Keep new women coming into the sport, 'cause it's just nice to see 'em on the trails.

So, everyone at these rides is either experienced and really digs helping out new riders. Or they are inexperienced and just starting the sport like you. Attend the ride. After a few rides you may find yourself now leading or helping out the uber-beginners.

So go to the damned ride! There is nothing finer than being around and helping out a new rider who is enthusiastic about the sport.
Great advice, couldn't have said it better myself!

I started a women's ride in my city and am averaging 20 women per ride every other month. They range from pro/expert riders to women on hybrids and everyone has a great time when broken into appropriate levels. It's also a great way to meet other women riders of a similar skill level. The days of the rides I either ride beforehand or afterwards in order to get in more miles so that while on the rides I can ride at a reasonable pace and help out all the beginners. It's really a great experiance and I can't believe the response from everyone in it's first year!

If you are looking for more women to ride with on a more frequent basis contact the coordinator of the rides in your area and I'm sure she'll be able to give you some names of women of similar skills to contact.
 

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have fun and be patient

There has been lots of good advice offered already and I don't want to repeat, but just offer a few words of encouragement: good luck and have fun! The hardest part for me has been learning patience as I progress more slowly than I would like to. But, I know I am getting better and I'm sure you will, too. It sounds like you already have some ideas of things to work on and also the motivation to keep trying, which is what's important in the long run.
 

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Des(s)ert Rat
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Dump the jerk! Oh wait, different topic....

Anyway, you got tons of great advice from lots of folks (but disregard Picard's).

Riding with other women is a great way to gain confidence. If I see another woman pull off a super hard move I am more likely to think, "I might be able to get that!" Not only that, but women tend to be more supportive and less competitive on the trail (I say tend to be, because there are times that I get mean and aggressive). As you gain more confidence, venture out on your own occassionally.

And then there are the overlooked aspects that will help you immensely. Does your bike fit, I mean really fit? Are the shocks set up for your weight? Is your riding gear comfortable? All of these things will make riding more fun and with a properly fitting bike you will excell much faster in the technical stuff.
 

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Don't worry, be happy!
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i just thought of something else. One thing that helped me a lot with the "why's " of why you would pick one line over another, and the "how's" was to pick up a copy of "mountain bike like a champion" by Ned Overend. I'm the kind of learner that is NOT intuitive: I need things broken down into components. My hubby sounds very much like your bf... he'd say things like just go for it which would just drive me nuts and I was very intimidated.

So, reading about some of the skills really helped me understand how to do some things. There is also a skills video put out by Susan Haywood
http://www.wildflowermtb.com/

and come to think of it, I wrote up a bunch of skills tips on my bike stuff pages. :cool: that you can look at if you want.

formica
 

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No more slogans!
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*waves hello*

I'm also in the Minneapolis area, if you want to ride with us, or me alone (I'm no ax-murderer...heh) I'd be happy to show you some very cool trails. I remember when I first started riding, I wished I could ride with another woman, not the guys. I also worried about holding everybody back, but then you steadily improve. So don't worry about that, besides you don't want to hang with anyone who pressures you to ride faster or take chances when your not ready. I didn't like the pressure from guys, or the way they'd show you how its done but not really explain it. There are so many times I just love to ride for the ride, no elbows up, etc. I'm wearing knee pads now too, my knees are pink from all the healed scabs and they don't tan anymore, same with the tops of my shoulders... I wonder if you've gotten to Lebanon, Elk River, the River Bottoms, etc.?
 
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