I grew up watching legendary mountain bikers show off their skills and I value it as the best childhood I could ever have. Most people credit Superman and Batman as their childhood heroes but for me, it was always a different case. Please look at Nino Schurter, the most successful and renowned XC racer in documented history, and it took him some time to achieve those skills.
We all wanted to be like our heroes and most of us still do, I know that I want to be a fantastic XC racer one day and refine my Mountain Biking skills. The whole process is challenging and it goes on for a lifetime, I mean, you never stop learning, do you? So, how long does it take to get really good at mountain biking? Let me just tell you this: With Consistency, You Can Achieve Anything In The World.
Every person has a different set of skills, there are things that they are good and bad at. With that being said, if you really focus on something, you can get better at it. I know some of my friends who were really poor climbers, and this is even after having some of the best bikes at their disposal. With consistent performance and focus, they got better with time. Dare I say that they are even better than me now in some areas!
With focused efforts and regular grinding, a beginner can become an intermediate in a span of 1-2 years. After becoming intermediate, it takes almost 2-3 years to become a professional. All of this is done through a rigorous and effective training plan, and it isn’t possible for anyone. Some will be able to achieve this status sooner or later than expected. Patience and consistency is the key here.
Can you achieve all of these skills really quickly? That isn’t possible but let me break it down for you. It can take several years or decades to go from a newbie to a pro rider. However, if you are planning on just improving your overall skills and riding your bike better then you can fo that very quickly. Some months maybe? Just be consistent and disciplined.
How Quickly Can You Get Good At Mountain Biking?
How do you define a Good Mountain Biker? What does it mean to you? For every person out there, the answer to this question will vary. Of course, everyone has their own set of priorities and goals.
If you look at it from an experienced rider, it involves a variety of skills. You need to have the right knowledge, and qualities to be a good mountain biker. So, without further delay, here is what it actually means to be a good mountain biker.
The Right Technical Skills
Let’s start with the most obvious aspect, a good mountain biker needs to have the right technical skills, and I mean riding skills. This also includes being amazingly proficient in handling the bike over various terrains, such as steep descents, rocky sections, root-covered trails, and tight corners. You should be able to navigate obstacles, like rocks and logs, with confidence. You have spent quite some time on the saddle, so all of this should come naturally.
How can you call yourself a “Good” mountain biker when you don’t even know how to maintain your bike properly? Being a good mountain biker means that you should be able to maintain your bike, and do it regularly. This means that you should be able to perform basic tasks like fixing a flat tire, adjusting brakes and gears, and keeping your bike clean and well-lubricated. Trust me, it isn’t much, and you should make this a part of your routine.
Do you know what really defines a good mountain biker? Bikers who are respectful of others and the environment around them. Now what do I mean by this? This means that you must yield the trail to hikers and horses if you see any. Also, be careful about littering, never do it. Don’t break any kind of rules posted there and be kind and considerate of others.
Fitness and Endurance
All good mountain bikers know that fitness and having a healthy endurance level are necessary to be able to ride well. These riders maintain a level of fitness and endurance that allows them to tackle everything without getting exhausted. Mountain bikers should always engage in regular cardiovascular and strength training.
What is life without even a few risks, right? Always assess risks and understand your limits, this approach will get you through anything. A good mountain biker knows when to push their boundaries and when to exercise caution. Apart from the risks, you must also take care of your well-being. Always wear appropriate safety gear, including a helmet, gloves, and pads, and be prepared for emergencies with tools and first aid supplies.
In this new world order, having technical knowledge is a must, you won’t be able to survive without it. As a mountain biker, you must be able to use Google Maps effectively and navigate through the trails. Trust me, you don’t want to get lost while using a mountain bike in the woods, it can be pretty dangerous.
Have The Necessary Trail Knowledge
Riders must be familiar with the local terrain and trails, this much is necessary. What is one of the signs of a good mountain biker? They explore different trails, learn about their characteristics, and then share their experience with the cycling community.
There are a lot of disciplines involved in mountain biking. These disciplines include cross-country, downhill, trail riding, and enduro. In order to be a good mountain biker, you need to excel in at least one of these disciplines and have a unique riding style of your own. All of this can be done with consistency and discipline.
The cycling community is and can be like a family, and you must be a part of this community if you want to become a good mountain biker. How can you be an active member of the community though? You can support trail maintenance efforts, share your experiences with others, and join group rides.
Keep on Improving and Learning
What is the number one characteristic of a professional mountain biker? They never stop learning and improving their skills, even when they have become professionals. Always aim for the better and keep on going from there. Whether it’s refining your skills, upgrading your gear, or exploring new trails, a good mountain biker is always looking to improve and grow as a rider. Follow this approach and you will never fail!
Our Mountain Bike Progression Tips
During our life, we always aim for the better, we always keep on growing. That’s how everything in our life should be, constantly improving. Mountain Biking is very vast, it has different disciplines and you always aim to be different than others. During my decade-long experience of riding, I have learned a lot and now I want to pass that knowledge to you.
Slow and Smooth Is The New Fast
Being a daredevil gets the blood flowing but sometimes you need to take things slow and smooth. Let me tell you about my experience with a hardtail bike. I have been using a full-suspension mountain bike for a while now, a little over 6 months. When I first started riding the hardtail mountain bike, it just felt so weird.
I was on the verge of being out of control, and all of it seemed so alien at times. You know what I did next? I didn’t blame the bike, I also didn’t blame myself, I just took things slowly. I solely focused on my body positioning as that is what Beginners do. I also worked on the lean angles, balance, and traction.
I could go at a very high speed but I rode at half that speed, cornered like I was just learning how to ride and the experience started getting smooth. After a certain period of time, the bike was performing perfectly, the confidence was improving and it just felt so good. It was like the bike was doing the riding for me and I was just there for the ride.
Trust me when I say this, riding slowly and efficiently is all it takes sometimes to be better. Align your body better and see the magic unfold in front of you.
Comfort Zone Isn’t Your Enemy
Leave the comfort zone and you will grow, this isn’t what always happens, especially if we talk about mountain biking. In order to have a great start, you must never go beyond your comfort zone from the start. A slow and steady progression is always favored over a rushed process. When you go too much into the technicalities, you invite the probability of error and that is where problems can start. Just focus on improving your skills and then go from there.
Do something that you’re good at or ride a trail that you have ridden many times, when you start making good progress, move on to the next step. If you ride a trail slowly then do it faster this time around, corner later than usual, and see how that works out for you. Keep on pushing yourself, and keep on creating muscle memory. That is how you will grow and progress!
Focus On Perfect Practice, Not Regular Practice
Practice makes a person perfect, but we must first focus on how we are practicing. When it comes to mountain biking, there are a lot of skills that we can improve upon. If you plan on improving a skill, choose a trail or a place that lets you focus on it entirely. For example, if you want to improve your jumping, it is better to practice on the local jump lines rather than going for the usual route. Going for jump lines will allow you to practice perfectly and will also improve the skill that you are aiming for.
We are not talking about jumping here, the focus is on practice. This technique can be applied for any kind of skill, just execute perfect practice and you will be good to go.
Watch and Learn From The Professionals
Everyone has their own favorite mountain bikers, there is a lot that we can learn from them. I would suggest that we watch and learn from them, the key is in watching their performance in slow motion. Apart from the spectacular chills and thrills, we also get to see their different techniques. When we understand these techniques, we can duplicate them in our own manner.
Have you ever noticed that professional bikers never coast? They are always pumping, doing bumps and jumps, and carving corners. We need to be like that. Chain linking is another thing these professionals are really good at, these riders always land at a spot that sets them up for the next corner.
Take Your Fitness Seriously
When we ride our mountain bikes, our legs and lungs start getting better and stronger, but need to go further than that. Every good mountain biker spends a considerate amount of time exercising, they combine both cardio and strength training. Hit the gym, engage every muscle in your body, and see the magic for yourself!
Quantify Your Progression
Always keep an eye on your progression, it shows how far you have come. You can record all of your data on Strava, it is one of the best applications for performance tracking. Once you quantify your progression, you will automatically be motivated to do better.
Upgrade Your Bike
We can only push our bodies so much further, there is always a limit that we cannot cross. Since we are not Supermen, it is better to be limited sometimes. Pushing the boundaries is okay, but we must also do that in a rational manner. Upgrading your bike is necessary if you want to improve and master your skills. I’m not talking about spending thousands of dollars each month, but about making smart and meaningful improvements over time.
Change your tires, check the tire pressure, and fine-tune your bike. These changes may not seem much but they can change the whole experience for you. Sometimes, we have the wrong tread equipped for the terrain, this sabotages the whole experience. You will see that improving your bike has the most amazing results.
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Watch: Easy Ways To Improve Your Mountain Biking
Improving your mountain biking skills can be really fun, here’s how you can be better in an effective manner.
Mountain Biking is an amazing experience, it is so widely stretched that you can easily become multi-talented. We’ve explored the question of how long it takes to level up your skills, and while there’s no one-size-fits-all answer, one thing is clear: the path to becoming a proficient mountain biker is a dynamic and deeply personal adventure. We cannot become masters of any kind of craft without patience and consistency.
It’s a journey marked by moments of triumph and times when you’re pushed to your limits, but therein lies the beauty of it all. The time it takes to master mountain biking isn’t merely about clocking hours on the trail; it’s about embracing the learning process, nurturing your passion, and continually challenging yourself.
Keep in mind that no matter where you are on your mountain biking journey, every twist and turn, every uphill climb, and every thrilling descent is an opportunity to grow and evolve as a rider, and we must take advantage of that opportunity. Each ride holds the promise of newfound skills and heightened confidence. The idea of a new opportunity will seem very exciting now, why not look forward to it?
What kind of skills are you aiming to improve? Let us know in the comments below!