Learning to Mountain Bike
I’ve been riding bikes since I was a little tyke, for a long time it was the Huffy hand me down from my big brothers and neighbors. My first mountain bike was a Murry and I soon moved on to a Huffy Hammer. I remember this one well; it had a front shock and wide handlebars. I crashed epically on this gem as a kid. It never slowed me down though, a bike to me, a country kid, meant freedom. I often would ride to my neighbor’s house, and we would then have adventures on our bikes in the woods, he rode a Schwinn Sidewinder.
It wasn’t long before I became and adult and started to drive everywhere; the bike was left behind to collect dust. After college I met up with an old friend and he began to tell me about his new found passion, mountain biking. I listened intently; his stories reminded me why I loved my bike as a kid. It was no surprise that I found myself at a local bike shop looking at bikes, with my dad. This time I was 25 and my dad and I talked about how much bike components have changed since I was a kid. Not long after, I walked out with my first Trek 4300, disc brake mountain bike with front suspension. This purchase would lead to many more new adventures, new friends, and new skills.
Like most people I began to mountain bike as an adult with the persuasion from a friend, who had purchased their mountain bike and wanted to relive the glory days of childhood. I soon found that I could take this hobby and use it as a work related skill.
My first formal mountain bike skills camp was disguised as a bike officer training class (International Police Mountain Bike Association), as I was a park ranger in an urban metro park. The bike had become a tool for community interaction. I ate the training up; this was the first time I was shown how to ride with skill and grace. I was taught the fundamentals required to climb, shift, and tackle obstacles in an urban setting. I soon took these skills and put them to task on the dirt trails of Ohio’s Mohican Wilderness. This was my first “big” mountain biking trip, complete with log crossings, intense downhills and switchbacks. Like most folks I continued to ride. I taught my friends everything I could, that soon was not enough. I wanted to ride harder and harder trails, some of my friends struggled to keep up. I began to ask myself why.
The “why” it seemed was the foundational skill set I learned in my patrol bike officer training. I had shared these with my friends but they were more interested in just riding. I still continue to work on these skills today and it has helped me progress and grow as a rider. From riding wheelies and manuals to riding skinnies and jumps, I don’t always have time to drive to the trails, and these help me when I can’t get there, but they can be practiced almost anywhere.
I have since taken additional skills classes and clinics. I find that it is a great way to identify bad habits and work on the basics.
I now offer these same skills and foundations as part of my curriculum (International Mountain Bike Association) for Introduction to Mountain Biking, and Trail Riding Basics at MST Adventures. In as little as 6-8 hours you can identify bad habits, build a strong foundation of knowledge and skills that you can continue to use as your skills progress.
The beauty of our class offerings is that you do not need a $5,000.00 bike. I have designed the class to be completed with your “Huffy” on flat pedals. As a student you only need a few things: A bike helmet, spare inner tube and patch kit, and some water. Sure there are a multitude of accoutrements that you could bring but these are the basics. Whether you enjoy a ride down the Bosque or you have aspirations to hit the downhill course at Angel Fire and everything in between our classes have you covered with learning the foundations. Feel free to reach out if you have questions or would like to schedule your class. If you enjoyed reading this Blog, subscribe to our newsletter, it comes out monthly and will have new events, classes, and blog post.