There’s lots of reasons why you got into mountain biking. The exercise in the great outdoors, the camaraderie, and the sense of adventure are all reasons bikers cite when asked. At some point though, you’re going to need help. It doesn’t matter if you’re a total newbie when it comes to the sport, or you’ve been biking for years. You’ll need to be able to spot when you need assistance with the sport, and you’ll need to know where to get it.
Here are 9 signs that you’re going to need some help with your biking game. Once you spot them, we’ll give you the steps you’ll need to take to get that help, too.
1. Your Bike Is Making Strange Noises And You Don’t Know Why
Becoming a mountain biker isn’t quite as easy as grabbing a bike and hitting the trail. You’ve got to take care of that bike, just as you would any other form of transportation. It’s got moving parts that wear out after time, and some of the trickier rides you do can take their toll on it. At some point, you’re going to find that your bike isn’t working the way it should be. It’s going to make strange noises, or it won’t move as well. In the worst case scenario, you’re going to be stuck on the trail with a non functional bike and no way of fixing it.
This is why you’re going to need to know how to maintain your bike. This doesn’t mean just knowing how to do a repair on the go (although you need to know that too). You’re going to have to maintain your bike in between rides. If you can keep wear and tear down, you’ll get much more out of the biking experience.
How To Get Help: There’s lots of ways you can get your bike working again when something goes wrong. It’s all about learning how your bike works, and being prepared for when something goes wrong.
First of all, you’re going to need to a good tool kit in your bag, in case you do need to make those repairs. Start searching online now, to see what other bikers are suggesting. Everyone has their own opinion, but you’ll be able to find the right tool kit for you this way.
Once you have that kit, learn how to use it. You can either learn from other bikers, or find tutorials online. There’s plenty of Youtube videos for those who need a visual walkthrough of how to change a tyre or clean a bike chain.
Finally, ask other bikers. Good bikers will always be happy to show you the ropes. Once you have that know how, you can pass it on to others, too.
2. You’re Not Advancing As Much As You Should Be
You’ve been biking for a little while, and you feel that you’ve made some progress. You’re certainly not the amateur biker you were last year, last month, or even last week. However, you feel like you’ve hit the dreaded plateau. You’re out every day biking, and you don’t feel like you’re making any more progress. Surely you should be getting better at what you’re doing? How do you start improving again?
How To Get Help: The answer here lies in the people you’re training with. If you’re training alone, you don’t have anyone to ride against. It’s hard to improve as you have no benchmark to hit, or others to keep up with. The same goes if you’re training with someone who’s at a similar skill level to you. If you’re both keeping up with each other easily, there’s no way that you can improve as a biker.
Instead, find a group that’s a slightly higher skill level than you are. If you start training with them, you’ll find that you’ll need to push slightly harder in order to keep up with them. The more you do this, you’ll find that you do start to improve.
3. You’re Finding It Hard To Navigate The Trail
You feel like you should have everything under control when you’re out on the trail, but you find that the uneven nature of them is giving you trouble. Every root and bump you hit has the possibility of knocking you off course, and you find that it’s harder and harder to stay balanced. You’ve checked your bike over again and again, and you can’t find anything wrong with it. What is it that’s making it hard to stay on the bike?
How To Get Help: This is a problem that you can actually solve yourself. If you’re finding it tough to tackle all the bumps and lumps on the trail, it may just be in the way you’re riding. This is a problem for newer riders, as they’re still getting used to riding. The answer is, simply, to relax. When you’re in the saddle, loosen your grip on the handlebars, and stand up to absorb all the bumps on the track. Newer riders often don’t relax enough, which actually makes it harder for them to ride.
4. You’re Having Trouble With Your Brakes
In a related issue as a new biker, you may be having issues with your brakes. You feel as though they’re not working as they should, as you use them and you feel as though you don’t have full control over your bike. This can make attempting jumps and stunts tricky, as you need your brakes to be able to pull them off well. If they’re not working, how can you improve as a biker?
How To Get Help: Again, this is an issue you can attempt to fix yourself. It all lies in how you’re using the brakes. There’s a saying that goes, ‘Use your brakes like a dimmer switch, not a light switch.’ This basically means you need to feather them, rather than slam them on full force. When you do that, it throws everything off balance and actually makes it harder to stop. Instead, feather them carefully, to bring yourself to a gradual stop. You’ll need to plan where you want to stop in advance, to start braking at the right time. With practice, you’ll find it much easier.
5. You’re Worried About Obstacles On The Trail
When you’re out on the trail, you’re finding that your worries about what you come across are hindering you. Because you’re so worried about hitting a root or a muddy spot, you’re finding that you’re holding back when you’re riding. It’s hard to improve when you’re worrying about your performance. You know you need to improve, but how do you do it when you’re so worried about what you’re going to find next?
How To Get Help: The way to deal with this worry is to build yourself up to riding on the track. Firstly, try riding around in your neighbourhood. Yeah, it’s not the trail, but you’re getting used to your bike. The more you use it, the more in tune with it you’ll be. If you’re used to your bike, then you’re going to feel much more confident on it.
When you’re out in the neighbourhood, make sure you’re trying out small obstacles where you can. Hop up and down curbs, and when you’re happy with that, try going down stairs on your bike. When you can do two or three steps without too much trouble, you’ll be able to handle the trail with ease.
6. You’re Getting Sore After A Ride
It’s normal to feel like your muscles have had a workout after a long ride, but if they’re getting sore after a regular ride, it can be a problem. Although you’re on a bike, you are putting in a lot of work when you’re riding. That means that your muscles are taking the hit and can feel worn out. This is especially true when you’re just starting out, as you’ll probably not have done a lot of biking up to this point.
How To Get Help: The key here will be to improve your overall strength. The stronger you are, the easier it will be to get out on your bike and start making improvements to your biking skills. You have a few different ways of doing this. The best way is to go the gym, and even hire a personal trainer to help you improve your strength. If you don’t want to do this, there are plenty of tutorials online that can help you with strength training in your own home. The more you practice, the better results you’ll see when you’re on your bike.
7. You’re Frustrated With The Progress You’re Making
You’re putting in the time on the track every day, and you’re striving to get better at mountain biking. Despite all this effort though, you’re not seeing any real difference to your skills. You’re getting frustrated with the process, and you may even be thinking of giving up entirely. After all, if you’re not making any progress, what’s the point of carrying on?
How To Get Help: If you’re struggling here, a change of mindset may be in order. Yes, you may not be making a lot of progress, but this may well be because you’re pushing yourself too hard. it’s very human to start something and want to see results right away. You’re putting in the effort, so why aren’t you being rewarded right away?
Sadly, training often doesn’t work like this. You will be making progress, but it won’t be in large leaps as you may be expecting. Instead, you’ll be making incremental progress every time you go riding. Sometimes it won’t be enough for you to notice, and so you’ll feel as though you aren’t getting better at all.
The way to do with this is to change your mind set. Instead of looking for those large leaps in progress, instead look to track the small amounts of progress you make. It may be that you can go a metre or two further before you have to take a break, or you’re landing every jump out of three, rather than every jump out of four that you were doing yesterday. Learn to celebrate the small victories and you’ll see that it’s much easier to keep your morale up.
8. You’re Afraid Of Being In The Air
If you want to get into mountain biking, you’re going to have to learn how to be comfortable with being in the air. Jumps and tricks are all part and parcel of many biking courses, and you’ll see other bikers doing them with ease. As a biker yourself though, it can feel unnatural to have your tyres off the ground. How are you going to land safely? Many new bikers go through the same thing, and it stops them training for competitions, or even just enjoying their bikes to the fullest.
How To Get Help: As with many issues with training, the solution here is to start small and work your way up. Start with just getting your front tyre off the ground, and get comfortable with that. The more you can do that, the happier you’ll be with moving forward. Try then doing smaller jumps over roots and the like, to avoid them. Build up more and more, and you’ll soon find you can do the jumps no problem.
If it’s the landing you’re worried about, try talking to other bikers about how they land. You’ll be able to pick up some tricks from them, and they’ll be able to assuage any fears you have. They can even lead you through the theory for pulling off a good jump. Getting other bikers’ help can be invaluable, so make sure you talk to them.
9. There’s A Section Of Track That’s Bothering You
You may be riding a trail that’s close to home, or practicing on one that you’re hoping to compete on. You’re doing well, except there’s one section that’s really starting to bother you. Every time you hit it you have trouble, and it’s becoming a problem. You’re starting to worry about it, and it’s making it harder for you to focus on your ride. How do you conquer this section and start doing better?
How To Get Help: The best thing to do here is pinpoint exactly which part of the track is causing you trouble, and then attacking it. You can do so by picking a time when the trail will be quiet, and then attacking it a few times, to see what’s causing you the trouble. Once you know what the problem is, you can either practice at it by riding it over a few times and getting used to it, or by going off and learning the skill you need.
There’s nothing wrong with taking on a piece of track again and again, in order to get used to it. The more you do it, the more comfortable you’ll be with it. On race day, that practice is going to pay off.
The Best Places To Get Help With Your Biking
No one improves in a vacuum, and this is especially true of mountain biking. If you’re looking for help, there are plenty of places you can find it. These include:
Other bikers: If you can, join a biking group and ask them for help when you need it. They’ll always be ready to lend a hand if you’re struggling, and they’ll have lots of experience that they can pass on to you.
Online articles and blogs: There are plenty of bikers who write about their experiences online. If you’re having trouble, Googling the issue can bring up someone who’s written about it. This can be a good way of getting the help you need.
Bike shops: Biking stores are usually staffed by enthusiasts, who can help you out if your issue is related to your equipment. They’ll be able to do things like help you pick out the right tyre repair kit, or show you how to do a minor repair to your bike.
YouTube: The joy of YouTube is that anyone can post videos there, and so if you want to find video of a trick, maintenance technique or more, it’s probably going to be here. As with most things online, you need to be critical of everything you see. If you think something’s off, it probably is. Stick to videos from official or well known channels though, and you can’t go far wrong.
Practice: Finally, if you’re having issues with mastering techniques or getting used to a trail, then the best option may be to simply practice. The more you do anything, the better you will get at it. If you keep at it, you will get better.
These are the 9 most common issues bikers have when they’re just starting out. Follow the tips in this guide, and you’ll find it easy to get over these hurdles in your biking journey.