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Rode up by JPL in Pasadena today. 3-4 mile climb followed by a quick downhill to the start of the El Prieto trail. I'm sure that some people have no problem with it (my co-worker that I rode with), but it's what I would call very difficult and very technical. Dowhill singletrack that is covered with rocks, dropoffs, and switchbacks. If you fall to one side, you hit poison oak. If you fall to the other you end up in the gully below.

1) I have a problem maintaining momentum.
2) I have a problem with psyching myself out and thinking that I can't do something.
3) I have a problem with negotiating large rocks, especially in tight turns
4) I have a problem with hitting my pedals/cranks against large rocks and having it throw me to the side or at least stop me in my tracks
5) I have a problem with staying out of the saddle when I should be out of the saddle
6) I have a problem with braking at the most inopportune times
7) I have a problem with not braking at the opportune times
8) I have a problem with going up rock formations...see #1 above
9) I have a problem choosing the best gear in rocky uphill and downhill sections

That's just a few. But honestly, I had a lot of fun. Hopefully my 5 Spot will be a willing participant to me fixing a few of those problems. I knew that the bike was way above my skill range, but I didn't want the bike to end up being the limiting factor. I wanted to do it right when I bought a bike, and I think that I have.

John
 

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Brass Nipples!
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Ride the bike, your skills will come

You've got a great bike, and that will become all the more evident over time.

Try to ride trails that are challenging, but not way over your head. Gradually move up to the sphincter clenchers as your skills grow. If your friends are better than you, don't be afraid to learn from them. Watch their lines and technique, Don't be afraid to ask them to slow down and teach you once in a while.

Then, the most important thing is: once you have great skills, remember to help out others who aren't as good as you are.
 

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Lay off the Levers
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savechief said:
...If you fall to one side, you hit poison oak. If you fall to the other you end up in the gully below.
Congrats John! That sounds like an interesting riding area, post some shots, with your bike if you can. Enjoy your new ride and learning process...I've totall understand what you're saying.

Some simple-minded (sarcastic) solutions...that you probably already know...

1) I have a problem maintaining momentum. Keep pedaling!
2) I have a problem with psyching myself out and thinking that I can't do something. Keep pedaling!
3) I have a problem with negotiating large rocks, especially in tight turns Look at the gaps not the rocks.
4) I have a problem with hitting my pedals/cranks against large rocks and having it throw me to the side or at least stop me in my tracks. Stop pedaling, cranks level, practice ratcheting.
5) I have a problem with staying out of the saddle when I should be out of the saddle. Lower you saddle 1" you'll hate it and stand up.:D
6) I have a problem with braking at the most inopportune times. Tap/drag your brakes, I do that as a security blanket...let's me know they're still there.
7) I have a problem with not braking at the opportune times. This is a problem? :D
8) I have a problem with going up rock formations...see #1 above Keep pedaling!
9) I have a problem choosing the best gear in rocky uphill and downhill sections. Keep pedaling! soft stroke once, and shift.

Just funn'in ya. But seriously the one thing I learned on this bike is to just keep pedaling no matter what. You just have to trust the bike will handle almost most anything, and climb everything your legs have the strength for. Many times I just blindly turned the cranks just one more time to see what would happen and ended up clearing a section I was certain I'd stall. The bike just keeps going, so let it. Oh, and the biggest truth in steering is: look where you want to go, NOT where you don't. If you fix your eyes at the big rock that'll throw you into the gully, you're almost certain to ride right into it. Look only at the line that will get you through, focus your thoughts on it and that's where you'll go. Sounds simple but it really, really, really, works.

Cheers mate!
 

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Bikezilla said:
Oh, and the biggest truth in steering is: look where you want to go, NOT where you don't. If you fix your eyes at the big rock that'll throw you into the gully, you're almost certain to ride right into it. Look only at the line that will get you through, focus your thoughts on it and that's where you'll go. Sounds simple but it really, really, really, works.

Cheers mate!
This is the most important thing you can learn, along with, look ahead 15-25 feet, not right in front of the tire. This, practice and time will help you to become a better rider.
 

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Trail rider and racer
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I think at one stage we all have elements of our riding that can be improved.

Firstly, you need to always keep looking well ahead so you can think ahead and be prepared if you have to maneuver your bike etc.

Through rock gardens or really rough terrain where you can come unstuck, it is important to hit it at a reasonable speed so you don't loose momentum and stall. Not too fast, but not slow either.

This is my favorite. I am a great one for hesitating when I ride by myself, but with others I never think about what I am doing really. Its all mind over matter. Whats the worst that will happen? A fall? Just think you can do it, commit and you'll get through.

If your riding through, or negotiating your way through rocks or roots and your cranks are bashing around the place, all you gotta do is move them accordingly so you can flow through the terrain. Log jumps are an example. You want your cranks level when going over the top.

Think of it this way, you are part of the bike, or the bike is part of you, as if both items were one... Go out and ride, try not to hesitate, and try new stuff - its the best way to learn, you'll have a great time, and you have a great bike to learn on.
 

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savechief said:
Rode up by JPL in Pasadena today. 3-4 mile climb followed by a quick downhill to the start of the El Prieto trail. I'm sure that some people have no problem with it (my co-worker that I rode with), but it's what I would call very difficult and very technical. Dowhill singletrack that is covered with rocks, dropoffs, and switchbacks. If you fall to one side, you hit poison oak. If you fall to the other you end up in the gully below.

1) I have a problem maintaining momentum.
2) I have a problem with psyching myself out and thinking that I can't do something.
3) I have a problem with negotiating large rocks, especially in tight turns
4) I have a problem with hitting my pedals/cranks against large rocks and having it throw me to the side or at least stop me in my tracks
5) I have a problem with staying out of the saddle when I should be out of the saddle
6) I have a problem with braking at the most inopportune times
7) I have a problem with not braking at the opportune times
8) I have a problem with going up rock formations...see #1 above
9) I have a problem choosing the best gear in rocky uphill and downhill sections

That's just a few. But honestly, I had a lot of fun. Hopefully my 5 Spot will be a willing participant to me fixing a few of those problems. I knew that the bike was way above my skill range, but I didn't want the bike to end up being the limiting factor. I wanted to do it right when I bought a bike, and I think that I have.

John
Everyone here is offering great advice. The one thing I can add to that is conditioning.

Technical riding is typically very anaerobic. You must have enough energy to make that short steep climb while your heart hits 160, 170 and above. You'll still obviously need the proper techniques, but proper conditioning will give you the strength that you need to complete the moves.

Having said all of that.......You will need less energy using proper technique. For example, if you are approaching a 1 ft rock step in the uphill direction, you can just take a run at it and if you have enough energy....you might make it. OR...you can approach the rock at a slower speed, manual the front wheel onto the rock and quickly push the bars forward to get the rear wheel over the rock lip. It takes less energy using the proper technique, but it still takes a lot of energy.
 

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... I guess you won't be
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I dont know how long you have been riding, savechief, but it sounds like this may be your first real serious mtb [might as well really go for it, eh?]. The spot sit pretty tall, being a 5" travel bike, and it seems you were on a very technical trail without having really familiarized yourself with the bike in less tricky situations. Bikes this tall are trickier to master than short travel bikes with a low center of gravity - but once you get the feel, you will not notice - or care.

I would suggest you strip it down and start at the basics. Practice track stands in your driveway, and also practice riding as slow as you possibly can without falling over or losing balance [the neighbors might think you're weird, but who cares] - see how long you can keep it up by using brakes and pedals together. Then maybe try some slo-mo figure eights. This way, you will really see how your bike's balance points work, and you will gain confidence in your ability to control your bike in tricky balance situations - which sound like you have the most difficulty with....

One thing - this type of practicing is best done with regular or platform style pedals, not the clip in type. Have fun!
 

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Baked Alaskan
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I agree with a lot off the points already made, notabily what Zilla kept saying. Pedal, pedal, pedal, if you have momentum it's amazing what you can clear. And this just isn't the case on a Spot, but any MTB.

I ride with a dude that primarily used his 3"x3" K2 Razorback and I can't keep up with him. Part is fitness, he races and I don't, part is body weight, he's 145 and I'm 195 so he just floats over things. and part is skill and finesse, which I have none. But he never stops pedaling over any technical sections.

I noticed this because I'm always chasing him and the only to keep him in sight is to hammer. And looking where you want to go is always a good thing.
 

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savechief said:
Rode up by JPL in Pasadena today. 3-4 mile climb followed by a quick downhill to the start of the El Prieto trail. I'm sure that some people have no problem with it (my co-worker that I rode with), but it's what I would call very difficult and very technical. Dowhill singletrack that is covered with rocks, dropoffs, and switchbacks. If you fall to one side, you hit poison oak. If you fall to the other you end up in the gully below.

1) I have a problem maintaining momentum.
2) I have a problem with psyching myself out and thinking that I can't do something.
3) I have a problem with negotiating large rocks, especially in tight turns
4) I have a problem with hitting my pedals/cranks against large rocks and having it throw me to the side or at least stop me in my tracks
5) I have a problem with staying out of the saddle when I should be out of the saddle
6) I have a problem with braking at the most inopportune times
7) I have a problem with not braking at the opportune times
8) I have a problem with going up rock formations...see #1 above
9) I have a problem choosing the best gear in rocky uphill and downhill sections

That's just a few. But honestly, I had a lot of fun. Hopefully my 5 Spot will be a willing participant to me fixing a few of those problems. I knew that the bike was way above my skill range, but I didn't want the bike to end up being the limiting factor. I wanted to do it right when I bought a bike, and I think that I have.

John
Contact Mark Langton at [email protected]. He lives in Thousand Oaks and gives private and semiprivate lessons on technical riding skills.
 
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