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mreow
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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
My girlfriend just picked up an entry-level mountain bike so she can start riding with me, and I'm having quite a time teaching her the basics. I know a lot of what she needs to know will just come from experience and getting her "riding legs" (she hasn't been on a bike much in the past several years, let alone done any mountain biking)

Yesterday, I was teaching her how to stop quickly and slide herself off the seat so she can stand up the bike without reaching on her tippy-toes while still on the seat lol (in case I crash in front of her on the trails... I don't want her slamming into me). That was hard for her to figure out but I think she's getting it. (She needs to stand up more when she's riding and get used to moving her body around over the frame)

Then I was trying to teach her about gears and what lows and highs are good for, but we were just riding around a parking lot so it's hard to hammer it in. She's starting to get it, but I think she'll get it much more when she gets on the trail and actually HAS to shift to get up an incline or so her legs don't spin too fast.

I started getting her into the habit of being either on or close to the brake levers and shifters at all times (before, she was pulling on the brake levers with 2 fingers while leaving 1 or 2 fingers between the handlebar and lever! yikes! SQUISH!)

I'm also teaching her the names and functions of all of the bikes parts. Teaching her about suspension fork vs. rigid fork, etc, etc, etc, and she's getting there.

So I guess my question is are there any good videos that she could watch to help cover some more basics?
 

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What could go wrong ...
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have her check out the videos on BikeSkills.com

"I started getting her into the habit of being either on or close to the brake levers and shifters at all times (before, she was pulling on the brake levers with 2 fingers while leaving 1 or 2 fingers between the handlebar and lever! yikes! SQUISH!)"

I brake with one finger only ... if the brake levers are coming all the way back to the bar you might need to adjust them
 

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mreow
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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Thanks for the link!
Zoke2 said:
I brake with one finger only ... if the brake levers are coming all the way back to the bar you might need to adjust them
My concern was more with her habit if keeping fingers behind the brake levers while riding. If she were to clip a tree or something hard enough... ouch
 

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I don't have a video suggestion, but I'm in the same position as your girlfriend, with my husband teaching me.

One thing that's working out well is him picking a different skill every time we head out and practicing it in the parking lot or around the park before we hit the trails. I'm in very good shape, but I'm an inexperienced rider, and my biggest problem is having really no idea of what the bike can handle, and what I can handle, which makes me alternately cautious or risky.

(Portrait of me on a steep hill: nervously looking down at the small rocks and roots, creeping forward, thinking "I am going to die" and then saying (mentally or aloud) "aw, f*ck it", and shooting down the hill.)

So we'll do things like practicing hopping the front tire, or hopping up onto a curb, or standing on one pedal on the side of the bike in the parking lot, or heading down a short steep downhill while standing. Breaking it down into little pieces helps with the hesitation, and for me, that's 90% of the game.
 

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mreow
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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Great advice from the other side, thanks!

I guess I should've included that in my original post, since this is the beginner's forum.

What methods of learning how to ride and ride well have worked best for you? What's been hardest?
 

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I helped my wife learn some but the big progress came at the Midwest Women's MTB Clinic a couple of weeks ago. Try to find a clinic or a certified instructor, it's money very well spent and you'll probably get some tips to improve your riding after too---I did.
 

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mreow
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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
itchmesir said:
is she riding with training wheels or do you just keep a ready hand behind her back as she rides..;)
lol she's not quite that new. I do ride in front, though... It's kind of a toss-up between riding as fast as I want and enjoying the trail VS. being a nice boyfriend and not leaving my girlfriend behind and feeling like a slow loser. :skep: I think there's a middle ground
 

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too cold to ride
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shillelagh said:
...on a steep hill: nervously looking down at the small rocks and roots, creeping forward, thinking "I am going to die" and then saying (mentally or aloud) "aw, f*ck it", and shooting down the hill.)...
Heck yeah, that's the right attitude.

I think building leg strength is one of the biggest keys to offroad riding. All the knowledge and technique in the world won't help if you don't have the muscle to shoot up a climb (or a bunch of them).

Plus, tc- if you ride behind, she gets tire marks on her face when she wipes, or you go off into the trees/off a cliff/etc. taking evasive action.
 

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If you want her to stick with it, you'll have to feel like a slow loser until she gets some confidence. Then you can do things like, e.g., take the harder path down while she takes a gentler path and meet up at a specified point, or ride ahead and wait at the top of the next hill, etc.
 

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mreow
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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Just came across this and it covers lots of basic basics: http://www.abc-of-mountainbiking.com/mountain-biking-techniques/

My girlfriend is very fit, does squats at gym and rides bike at gym. She has delicious legs :p

shillelagh said:
If you want her to stick with it, you'll have to feel like a slow loser until she gets some confidence. Then you can do things like, e.g., take the harder path down while she takes a gentler path and meet up at a specified point, or ride ahead and wait at the top of the next hill, etc.
good point. thanks :thumbsup:
 

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Fat-tired Roadie
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Bumped into this a while ago.

http://www.bowcycle.com/bikes/blogs/viks-picks/2009/02/13/how-to-get-your-wifegirlfriend-to-ride-with-you/

It's very funny, but I think he also has some good advice. Rather than focusing on building up the skills to go straight to riding off-road trails, he thinks (and I agree) that it's better to look for some routes that you and she can do with what she already knows. She'll get more comfortable on the bike with more saddle time. Go on some rides on your own when you want to be more aggressive, for now.

I'm trying to get my girlfriend into it too. I have a spare road bike outside the cyclocross season, so we've been riding around the multi-use path around a lake near my house. We've got the fit sorted out, so when she's more comfortable with gears and climbing out of the saddle, we'll venture off the hill I live on with confidence that she can get back up.
 

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The advice is decent. As a woman, though, I have to say if my husband just started leaving cycling magazines around hoping I'd read them I'd probably roll my eyes, not suddenly develop an interest in cycling. Fewer hints, more direct respectful conversation.

But it's definitely good to make sure that some of the stuff that you do is stuff that she can do. It's very frustrating to struggle while the other person barrels ahead, especially if the other person is someone you care about and want to impress. Even if you're the best, most patient boyfriend in the world, if she's having to walk her bike constantly she's going to feel like she's holding you back.
 

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What could go wrong ...
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mrmattolsen said:
Thanks for the link!My concern was more with her habit if keeping fingers behind the brake levers while riding. If she were to clip a tree or something hard enough... ouch
from the link you posted below

"•Using the brakes should be achieved by two fingers at the most since the other three should be used in maintaining grip and control of the bike while braking."

she should have more fingers around the bar to maintain control
 

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Another aspect is that not everyone is out to ride hard, get better, faster, etc. My wife rides with me primarily because it's something we can do together that's fun/healthy/etc, so we go slower, take breaks, etc. Don't assume that she's riding for the same reasons you are.
 

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The best thing you can do to teach your GF riding basics is haver her ride as much as possible. I think the key to have her ride harder and faster is to start slow and work your way up from there. I like the advice to remember to take breaks here and there. If you charge ahead she might get discouraged and will definitely not want to ride anymore. Riding takes a lot of stamina and leg-strength so go easy on her at first. Not to mention good form but I expect that will come with experience. Before you know it she will want to ride every chance she gets. If she is a noobie I would look at some kind of protection because accidents certainly can happen.

Anyway good luck and keep us updated on her progress.
 

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mreow
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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
Well we did our first ride this weekend.

It started off a little hairy because I accidentally turned onto the intermediate track (instead of the beginner one) so we immediately were hit with a lot of roots and bumps. She got frustrated right off the bat for obvious reasons. I had to tell her to downshift and do this and do that just so she could get past it all....it was not a good situation for starting off.

So I got us off that and onto some smooth flats ASAP and she actually progressed very well. Her control of the bike was the biggest problem she had at first, but was getting much better within 20-30 minutes. She also had to get used to being up off the seat 90% of the time. We took the loop again and the sections that made her stop or go off-track before she glided over with ease and with a loud "WOOO!" She especially enjoyed the big (to her) drops with lots of roots she had to go around.

I made a few adjustments to her seat to get her riding position locked in after she figured out what worked best for her.

I am really impressed how she navigated some of the rooty climbs and drops after only 30-ish minutes on the bike.

I rode ahead of her the whole time, and when we approach iffy sections I'd call out the line.. "Stay left!" or "Stand up and just coast over this" or "Hard right up here...take it slow and on the inside". It worked really well and like I said, she made excellent progress over this first ride.

Best of all, she told me she had a blast and is so happy she bought a mountain bike!

We're going to visit her family next weekend and she's already looked up a bunch of trails nearby and has insisted we take the bikes. :thumbsup:
 

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mrmattolsen said:
Well we did our first ride this weekend.

It started off a little hairy because I accidentally turned onto the intermediate track (instead of the beginner one) so we immediately were hit with a lot of roots and bumps. She got frustrated right off the bat for obvious reasons. I had to tell her to downshift and do this and do that just so she could get past it all....it was not a good situation for starting off.

So I got us off that and onto some smooth flats ASAP and she actually progressed very well. Her control of the bike was the biggest problem she had at first, but was getting much better within 20-30 minutes. She also had to get used to being up off the seat 90% of the time. We took the loop again and the sections that made her stop or go off-track before she glided over with ease and with a loud "WOOO!" She especially enjoyed the big (to her) drops with lots of roots she had to go around.

I made a few adjustments to her seat to get her riding position locked in after she figured out what worked best for her.

I am really impressed how she navigated some of the rooty climbs and drops after only 30-ish minutes on the bike.

I rode ahead of her the whole time, and when we approach iffy sections I'd call out the line.. "Stay left!" or "Stand up and just coast over this" or "Hard right up here...take it slow and on the inside". It worked really well and like I said, she made excellent progress over this first ride.

Best of all, she told me she had a blast and is so happy she bought a mountain bike!

We're going to visit her family next weekend and she's already looked up a bunch of trails nearby and has insisted we take the bikes. :thumbsup:
Awesome.
 

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Great news she's catching on quickly! Having BTDT, and also hearing horror stories from friends, I'm not a big fan of teaching/learning a sport from a sig. other.

Just like skiing, mtb has a core set of basic skills that once learned will be huge stepping stones to building confidence, trying new things, etc.

I'd see if she'd be interested in doing a skills clinic. There are a lot available. Several friends and I have all done Gene Hamilton's Better Ride clinic, which was worth every penny.
 
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