One out of many great things about mountain biking if the fact that there’s always room for progression. No matter your age, experience, how good you think you are or if you believe you’re too old to learn a new trick – you can always progress!
Here are 10 ways to keep you on the positive path of progression.
1- Have a new skill in your sights!
Simple and yet so important, just find a new skill you want to learn, improve or focus on. It can be rolling up and over an obstacle, completing a lap without pedaling at the pump track or feeling more comfortable in a steep descent. Choose one skill, and make sure you dedicate some time for practice.
2- Set goals you can measure
Practicing for the sake of practicing is actually great! Still, if you can set a goal you can measure, you’ll be able to really know when you have progressed. It can be a timed run on your favorite trail, how long you can hold a manual or how high you can get that bunny hop. Measurable goals will give you a clear view on how well you progress, and you can always extend and expand them.
3- Remember it doesn’t always come easy
Not every new skill will be easy to master, it might take some time and even occasionally get us frustrated. There’s a reason why top athletes make it a full time job to be at their best, most of us don’t have that time to spend so yes, our progression might be slow at times. Don’t worry if you feel like just going out for a fun ride, you don’t always have to practice and its totally OK to take a break. While setting goals is great, sometimes just dedicating time for quick 2-5 minutes practice sessions will go a long way.
4- Focus on your technique instead of the terrain
This is a big one, and we often address it while coaching. Think about what you’re focusing on!
Are you worried about losing grip in those dry and dusty corners or are you focusing on leaning the bike and not your body?
We do sometimes have an inherent tendency to blame the environment for our faults, so if you feel particularly challenged by an obstacle or a trail section, figure out what techniques you’re missing and go to work on those moves first.
5- Be curious
Have you ever been staring at a trail feature trying to figure out how to negotiate it while some other rider just made rode past it looking effortless? Yep, happens to us all.
Have you ever tried asking that rider for advice or really watch what they were doing? That effortless riding is usually a result of good technique being implemented at the correct timing. Don’t dismiss your self by saying someone else is simply talented or better than you when maybe you can get a small piece of advice that will get you the same results in no time.
6- Stay relaxed
This is probably easier said than done at times… Yes, riding technical terrain on a mountain bike can be a bit stressful, that’s natural. It is important to understand that high stress levels will get you into that “survival mode” when you’re just hanging on and not really learning or being aware. Stress is probably the number one reason for crashes, as we stiffen up and lose the mobility needed to keep our balance. Suffering from arm pump on descents might be a sign that you’re not relaxed enough.
If you feel stressed, reduce a bit of speed, try riding at 70% of your ability so you can look ahead, pick your lines and time your moves correctly. Get it right, your confidence will grow and so will your speed.
7- Look back at your achievements
This one IS easy… go out to your local trails, where it all started for you, find a feature that was once scary became easy with time, maybe to the point you don’t even think about it anymore. Realize how much you’ve progressed since then and accept that it can happen again, on another level. Enjoy the memories and go out to create new ones!
8- Improve what you already know well
Don’t let your self get over comfortable or confident with what you know. Your cornering technique is great? Awesome! now try faster, tighter corners. Feeling super confident on drops? fantastic! Now work on landing as quietly as possible. Find something you’re good at, and become excellent at it, or explore another way to achieve the same results.
9- Go back to the fundamentals
Basic body position and balance is easy on easy terrain and very difficult on more technical terrain. A lot of riders tend to forget that, thinking they got the fundamentals dialed when sometimes the biggest difference between riders of different levels is just how good their fundamentals are. There more accurate you are with your fundamentals, the more technical trails you will be able to ride with confidence.
This sometimes takes years to realize, so there, now you know. Time to implement!
10- Get some professional coaching
Coaching is, in essence, a simple process. You go out to practice, while a professional instructor detects your errors, helps you to fix them and points you to the next step in your progression.
The fact that you’re getting the correct advice will save you a lot of time and frustration – so you can go back to riding your trails sooner and have more fun!
We recommend working with BICP certified instructors or if you want to go at it on your own, check out our professional video program.