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Most of us have been blessed with the challenge to help others build up their biking skill. This past week I've been helping a friend get a mountain biking mindset so he can have future years of enjoyment and progression. I figured we could share some stories and techniques about teaching others some biking.

Today, on a beautiful weather-wise day of riding, we're going up the usual fire road climb at the local state forest where we do almost all of our riding. He's taking off on a hardtail while I'm left to squish around on my slightly heavier full suspension bike. I mean, he's charging-up this hill faster than my cross-country running friends. I've got it in a steady climb while he's throwing variations on his pace. We're about 2/3 up and I pass him, muttering something about time to kick-in my race pace. About 5 seconds later I hear, "Dude! DUDE!! I'm really hurting back here. Stop! Wait!! Come on man." Now, I'm in a good rhythm, and we're at the section on the climb where most people hit their "wall". I stop at the last corner below the top, and he slowly catches up. He's dizzy, hot, out of breath, probably dehydrated. As he comes around I get to use one of my favorite compairisons:

Climbing is like using a credit card. You charge too much and you'll get cancelled.

He hasn't yet realized I've been keeping practically the same pace the whole way up the hill, if I hadn't stopped to wait for him, I would've made it to the top probably 8-10 minutes before him. Now he knows the definition of a 'race pace'... one you can keep-up for a moderate climb and not have to change. Pass all those people charging up the hill.

We get to the top of the ridge... and the park has done some AMAZING work on ridgeline singletrack trails, they're absolutely amazing. They come in three parts, first one on the left of the road, second on the right, third on the left. We take the first one. It's a pretty level and smooth trail, so I'm talking to him about maintaining momentum at all times... for it gets you over EVERYTHING in your path. He doesn't really completely get it, so I'm like, "Just don't use the brakes at all." He didn't believe it was possible to not use the brakes, so I detached mine and rode w/o them for proof at the end of the trail. We rode the second section, which really teaches a new rider how to fly going uphill, and how to prepare to shift into different gears at the drop of a hat. We got done riding this and he started expressing his hatred for the trail, too much uphill... baah. Wimp.

Finally we got to our trail down, which he selected... i knew it was a pretty steep trail, but smooth so he shouldn't have too many problems. This is where the discussion stopped and the learning began. After he had some initial trouble and was having to get off the saddle and dab quite a bit on steep sections, I told him to take his seat as low as it would go. Then I did a brief demo on a very steep section of how to get your weight up and off the seat and move it to the back, while using the front brake, and explained such basics as letting the gravity do the work if you get in a jam, letting off the front brake and building up some momentum to keep everything moving except yourself over the bars. He ended-up walking a slippery rock-drop section, that I rode with some damn courage to prove it can be done. He seemed to have trouble getting off the seat going down steep sections and didn't think you could really ride up off of the seat... so I took my saddle off and rode a short section w/o it to prove you have just as much control off the saddle on a downhill. Needless to say, I impressed him and some hikers on the way up.

We got almost to the bottom of the trail and he had been tearing it up compaired to previous rides. He was starting to get the hang of it when he stops suddenly and starts dismounting. There was a very steep section with 3 root drops on it. The center of the trail was extremely rocky and rutted-out. The left was the best option, going off the low sides of the root drops. I was like, "Watch me try this first, then you'll have a good idea how to pull it off." I slide up onto the left side, start down, get tossed into the middle, feet off the pedals, family jewels smack into the seat, and I managed to ride it out. I wasn't happy, so I went back up and rode the rigth side, off the big roots drops, but less slippery. Slaughtered that section, but he wasn't convinced he could do it... he took some hell for that. A short while later, you could see the road at the bottom, I just hear a sickening crash sound and some cussing. He'd torn open his right hand after going over the bars. Not bad or anything, and the chain had come off... he'd had enough for today, so he walked the rest, a super-steep smooth exit with a perfectly banked turn into the road.

I think he actually learned a lot today about weight distribution, momentum, steady climbing and sprinting. I was surprised when he got over a big log on a steep singletrack uphill. I yelled up, "Just ride hard, lift the front and keep going!" He's come a long way since his first ride at the beginning of last week, and I've found the perfect trails for him to really work on perfecting his technique that are also a hoot for me to rip on. Soon enough he'll be built up for harder trails in Kanawha State Forest, Teaberry Rock, and perhaps one day the legendary Black Bear. Until then, keep riding.
 

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Long Distance MTB
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Interesting

Interesting, teaching others and specially teaching MTB can some times be very hard.

I am trying to get my wife interested in MTB. But right now I am narrowing my target to get her interested in biking. Right now we just ride jeep paths without technical stuff and pavement. Maybe later I will convince her to try easy single track.


www.chupacabras100km.org
 
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