When we meet new riders for a coaching session out on the trails, its always important to us to get some initial information about the riders abilities, experience, and expectations.
In these talks, we usually find that most riders state their riding experience with an emphasis. “I’m riding already 8 years” or “I’m only riding 6 months” are common declarations which honestly, don’t tell us much about your ability, and here’s why:
Riding ability is based on habits, and if your only habit is riding sort of the same thing over and again, your experience doesn’t build up much of an ability besides being very comfortable on trails you already know.
On the other hand, if your experience is built on training, building technique and correcting errors as you push your limits – that’s the good experience.
The wrong type of experience actually becomes worse the more time you’re riding as it might set in wrong habits. As coaches, we sometimes struggle more with teaching experienced riders the proper techniques compared to a beginner that arrives to the coaching process with a clean slate.
So, can an old dog learn new tricks? Of course! Riding a mountain bike, for us, is all about learning and progressing, it doesn’t matter how long you’ve been riding and what’s the level you achieved – there’s still something to learn or improve. Bottom line – it is all about practice.
As you gain your experience on your bike, you should keep asking yourself what is it based on. Experience based on simply logging hours on the saddle might actually be counterproductive, if on the other hand, you make a habit of using good technique and dedicate some time to practice, your experience will be like good wine and help you refine your riding as you get those hours on the saddle.