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I have been out about 5 times now here in Round Rock and Austin TX. I am really having fun. I even went out and bought a better bike. I got into this at the urging of my brothers who are both quite a bit younger and their bones bounce instead of shatter more than mine do at 43 years old and 230 lbs.

We have been exploring the trails marked in this site. Mostly blues and blue with a black diamond. There seems to be mostly super flat and boring trails or fun trails with a good portion of them being jagged limestone rocks, often forming steps or edges that will turn your front tire if you aren't careful. There doesn't seem to be much in between, which is what I really need for training.

Fun to me is the ups and downs, with the turns and such, but with minimal rocks that will end my life. I don't mind some little rocks here and there, but these rocks I encounter on these trails are really mean and usually on a pretty sharp decline where I know superman is where I will end up.

I look at those jagged rocks and think to myself "I'd like to try it. Just put your weight backward. Don't go too slow"...but then, "What is the price of failure here? I expect to fail a few times while learning." and the answer is a broken rib, elbow, knee, etc. Those jagged limestone rocks do not look like they will be nice to land on.

So, how then do I possibly progress? I need to learn how to go over those spots. Others do it no problem, but I want to learn with a safety net :/

Perhaps there are some lessons on how to fall?
Should I pad myself up like the stay-puff marshmallow man?
Should I book a trip to another state?
 

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jcd's best friend
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I know exactly how you feel (I'm 39 years old). I have an anxiety disorder which makes it difficult for me to run double diamond trails. Plus I have panic attacks over any wooden ramp so I don't ride on them.

Curtis Keene (pro racer for Specialized) always tells me to take "calculated risks." His recommendation is to take baby steps. In your case, just walk the rock obstacle and identify what you need to do to get over it. If you have friends, ask them how they do it and just let them tow you in.

If you weigh your life options constantly on the trail, it will eventually ruin your trail riding experience as a whole. Baby steps my friend ;)
 

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Stay off the black trails for now. Green and blue are what you want to do. There is a green near my house I have been doing each time I go out to try and get faster. I tried a blue too, but I have to ride way further to get to it so only did it once. It was fun. The main difference I have seen between colors us as you have found, the cost of failure. Crash on a green and there are not likely to be any jagged limestone rocks to land on or dangerous hills to slide/roll down.
It just takes time to build up your skill. The same trail that seems impossible now will be fun and easy later....
 

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Just ride what is comfortable to you. If you're comfortable on blues, keep doing that. If they freak you out, maybe back it down a bit until it doesn't feel threatening anymore.

As your skills improve, you'll gain confidence, as you've done "some other feature/obstacle almost like this one before", and you'll likely naturally atttempt trails that are a bit more difficult, until you get to the point where you don't consider the risk/likelihood of crashing to be worth the reward.

Also, since we're (I'm 32) not made out of magic and rubber anymore like we were in our teens, I'd suggest wearing at least some knee pads, and possibly elbow pads as well. After breaking my elbow a few years back, I've padded up.

There are some really nice, flexible, and breathable pads on the market right now. I honestly never think about my elbow pads at all after I put them on (Leatt Airflex), and I really like my kneepads as well (7idp Sam Hill). I don't really think its worth it to ride without them at this point.

Also consider a full face helmet. There are some nice lightweight, and breatheable full face helmets around now. They cost $175-250ish dollars, but thats way less than the price of replacing teeth, or fixing broken jaws. I wear one on every ride.

Anyway, welcome to the sport, and just find what you enjoy, and do that some more :).
 

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I have been out about 5 times now here in Round Rock and Austin TX. I am really having fun. I even went out and bought a better bike. I got into this at the urging of my brothers who are both quite a bit younger and their bones bounce instead of shatter more than mine do at 43 years old and 230 lbs.

We have been exploring the trails marked in this site. Mostly blues and blue with a black diamond. There seems to be mostly super flat and boring trails or fun trails with a good portion of them being jagged limestone rocks, often forming steps or edges that will turn your front tire if you aren't careful. There doesn't seem to be much in between, which is what I really need for training.

Fun to me is the ups and downs, with the turns and such, but with minimal rocks that will end my life. I don't mind some little rocks here and there, but these rocks I encounter on these trails are really mean and usually on a pretty sharp decline where I know superman is where I will end up.

I look at those jagged rocks and think to myself "I'd like to try it. Just put your weight backward. Don't go too slow"...but then, "What is the price of failure here? I expect to fail a few times while learning." and the answer is a broken rib, elbow, knee, etc. Those jagged limestone rocks do not look like they will be nice to land on.

So, how then do I possibly progress? I need to learn how to go over those spots. Others do it no problem, but I want to learn with a safety net :/

Perhaps there are some lessons on how to fall?
Should I pad myself up like the stay-puff marshmallow man?
Should I book a trip to another state?
I was just thinking about this the other day, my area recently got a new set of flow trails that are fast with berms and jumps. they range from 4-8miles. by the time I get to the end, I've already forgotten the features from the beginning. and it's narrow and not conducive to hiking back up and redoing a section.

naturally, coming from other sports, I'd like to have a repeatable practice session. And at least where I live, you're either committed to a multi-mile route or you've got nothing to ride on but flat earth.

Stay off the black trails for now. Green and blue are what you want to do. There is a green near my house I have been doing each time I go out to try and get faster. I tried a blue too, but I have to ride way further to get to it so only did it once. It was fun. The main difference I have seen between colors us as you have found, the cost of failure. Crash on a green and there are not likely to be any jagged limestone rocks to land on or dangerous hills to slide/roll down.
It just takes time to build up your skill. The same trail that seems impossible now will be fun and easy later....
this was going to be my plan next, I was going to check out the green trail and ride it harder. whereas in previous outings on the blue, I was slowing down on the berms (because overshooting it means going down a steep drop), scrubbing jumps (because I don't have the landings memorized yet). I heard a saying, "doing the easy hard to make the hard easy."
 

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You have to consistently put yourself in situations where you're a bit uncomfortable. Progression should be you trying to find things that push your comfort zone but you're pretty certain you can do it. I think there's two types of people who don't follow this. 1) The person that never pushes themselves. They feel any fear and they're out. They don't challenge themselves. 2) The person that seems to have no idea what will happen when they send it off that 4 ft ledge but they go for it anyway and end up hurt. Like someone already mentioned it should be calculated risks.

But outside of tackling that nasty rock gardens you've been eyeing, you should be practicing. Mountain bikers are terrible at practicing. They want to go trail riding and hope they keep leveling up. 10 years later they can't bunny hop or jump and they look about as loose as a mummy riding a bike. Dedicate time to doing drills, session stuff on the trail. I'd also recommend taking an in person skills course.
 

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Single(Pivot)and Happy
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Your fear is protecting you from doing stupid sh!t. Before you focus on building bike riding skills, in my opinion, you need to build your muscles, balance, and stamina. Many riders, some very experienced riders, fail to understand how important it is to build and strengthen their core muscles. Quads and calf muscles cannot get you to far down the trail if you cannot breathe.

While you are building your body and mind to riding, get acquainted with your bike. Move around on it. Move your feet on your pedals to feel the "difference". Move your hands on your handlebars and pay attention to your breathing.

Everyone wants instant gratification. It is much easier to focus on building bike riding skills if you have invested the time into building the necessary physical level necessary to skillfully handle a mountain bike.

There's a huge difference between actively handling a mountain bike than just holding on a hoping for the best. Invest early on and enjoy the pain as you build your muscles and breathing and the bumps and scrapes from unscheduled dismounts, this pain is much less than you will continue to experience if you think you can shortcut the skill and physical building process.
 

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Keep on riding, 5 times isnt enough to really get a grasp on the skills you have or what you need to work on.

Nothing wrong with progressing slowly. If I get injured im out of work, and im out thousands of dollars. I cant be doing that anymore, so I definitely think twice about pushing my envelope! I still have tons of fun riding, I'll just pass on stunts with extremely high risks and low reward.

As your skills grow, progressing in the sport becomes less risky. Crashing down double black diamond trails your first few times out basically guarantees injury, but with some skills built up over time it can be fairly low risk.

I bought pads for the first time in a decade. Im getting older and I have a lot to lose if im injured now. Its a small investment, and worth it.
 

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Definitely as a beginner, you need to take it easy. Do what's attainable, work on your body. The legs, the lungs, the core. Later on, you can start working on the skills and techniques necessary to ride rock drops and ledges and other manifestations of chunky stuff.

It takes time. I've been riding mountain bikes for 20 years and I still learn stuff. I still work on my fitness. And there's plenty of stuff I deem too risky to attempt.
 

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Don't know which trails you ride but you might check out walnut Creek which has more single track and not as many rocks like brushy Creek and just get some time there working on your skills and techniques.

Sent from my moto g(6) using Tapatalk
 

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5 total rides.... you better listen to that fear. The worst thing you can do is try to ride stuff you're not confident in attempting. That's when you panic, go stiff, and bad things happen. Ain't no shame in walking, and riding again tomorrow. Knowing your limits, and when to push them, is an important learning curve.
 

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Bikesexual
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At almost 54, and massive responsibilities (like most) I'm happy with riding XC trails, what I did is "down-graded" my bikes to zero suspension. Green and Blue is where I stop, riding for me is full on therapy, so I want to enjoy it. There is one section (rock garden) on one of my local trails that I still haven't mustard up. My buddy got hurt really bad there, and I run most of it, until I hit that spot that I just can't seem to get over the fear.

I'm still having tons of fun though, and no need to prove anything to anyone. I also ride gravel, and some road. Its all fun to me. Not everyone sends it! :)
 

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Cycologist
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The "safety net" you're looking for is a dropper post, if you don't already have one, it will be a big help where you say "these rocks I encounter on these trails are really mean and usually on a pretty sharp decline where I know superman is where I will end up." Really getting your weight down lower makes a big difference and you will feel much more comfortable.

As someone above said, you're new to the sport so you have plenty of skills to work on. Just ease into new challenging terrain. Watch others do it and see how they handle it.

I rode some trails this past weekend for the first time and hit several spots where fear stopped me from riding. A couple of them I made a few unsuccessful attempts on but decided to just walk in the end. They really weren't all that difficult, I'm sure they were easier than some stuff I ride all the time. But I also knew my lack of confidence on them could lead to failure so I skipped them. If I rode those spots more often, I'm sure I'd eventually conquer them as I've done with the spots on my local trails.
 

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Fleshbits... Did I read it right that you've been out 5 times? If so, first off, welcome to the sport. Secondly, you have yet to begin! :) Fear wanes with experience and confidence. And regardless of how much experience you have, there will always be a trail or feature that sparks your fear. At 58 and riding since the 70's, I still come across something from time to time that makes me question, just what the heck do I think I'm doing.

I ride North and Central Texas. I know what you mean by the limestone staircases in the hill country. They can be unforgiving. For something different, have you tried Spider Mountain yet?
 

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Learn how to ride comfortably and confidently. Jumping into the 'hard stuff' feet first isn't a way to gain confidence.

Fundamentals first; balance. Awareness of your surroundings. Confidence that everything you've done recently has been fun and error free. Bike setup. Ride by yourself on easy stuff if you need to, instead of having the peer pressure of your resilient brothers pushing you beyond your comfort limits.
 

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I'm learning too. I've got about 75 miles under my belt. It is about confidence and lack of confidence. I try to push myself. I had a lot of anxiety about wooden bridges. I walked them at first but then decided to try one with a little speed. It was fine. That gave me more confidence to try a harder one. I'm still not over the anxiety, but I'm progressing and that's all that matters.

So I usually start with trails I feel good about, then once I build up some confidence try a harder trail. If I get in over my head I go back to a trail I feel good about and ride that to build up my confidence again.

My biggest issue is getting impatient. I've got to learn that it takes time to acquire skills. The best way for me is to go on the same trails over and over and improve each time.
 

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XC iconoclast
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At almost 54, and massive responsibilities (like most) I'm happy with riding XC trails, what I did is "down-graded" my bikes to zero suspension. Green and Blue is where I stop, riding for me is full on therapy, so I want to enjoy it. There is one section (rock garden) on one of my local trails that I still haven't mustard up. My buddy got hurt really bad there, and I run most of it, until I hit that spot that I just can't seem to get over the fear.

I'm still having tons of fun though, and no need to prove anything to anyone. I also ride gravel, and some road. Its all fun to me. Not everyone sends it! :)
You sold your full suspension bike? Oh, I didn't know.

Fleshbits, I also ride a lot of trails with chipped, sharp rocks. And I do limit my speed on them when it gets really bad. I hate to say this but you will not know your true limits until you have a bad crash. So just keep riding those trails over and over until you get more comfortable. And if you still don't have fun on them then you need to do other trails. There are plenty of fun trails 'somewhere' out there that don't have chipped rocks, just explore a bit.
 
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