I am in love with mountain biking. Utterly head over heels with mountain biking. The burn, the speed, the trails, the dirt, the sweat and blood shed, and the people: it all comes together to make an incredibly humbling yet empowering experience. Plus, it's just downright fun! But one of my favorite things about this sport is one that is often overlooked - the ability to constantly progress.
No matter your experience on two wheels, from first-timers to world-cup racers, there is always a way to take your riding to the next level. As with everything, the closer you get to becoming an expert, the harder it gets to see these progressions - but in my short time as a mountain biker, I have come to realize that this sport is very special. From cornering and pump tracks to bunny-hops and full-out freeride, no matter where you and your bike go there's always a way to progress further than you once thought possible. And when you hit that point where you think you've mastered a skill or you've ridden a trail as fast as you can, think again; come back to it a few months down the road, and you'll quickly realize that you can still surprise even yourself.
What's more, every skill and drill that you work on while on your bike inevitably lends itself to the rest of your riding, making for a continuous cycle of challenges and rewards. Take a week to focus only on technical uphills and by the end of it you'll feel more confident and controlled on all terrain, even the downhill! Spend 30 minutes every evening practicing cornering and body-bike separation at the local pump track, and you'll start noticing your bike handling and overall balance improve tenfold on everything from steeps to jumps.
When it comes down to it, it's pretty simple: if you want to get better at biking, spend time on your bike. As much time as possible. Try new things, and keep it interesting. Challenge yourself with new objectives. Play around and see what's possible. Ride with friends who are better than you. Just spend time on your bike!
Lucky for all of us, there are some great resources out there to help us along the way - and as a female rider, one of my personal favorites is Liv. Pioneering the way the world sees women in biking and providing amazing female-specific bikes, Liv has paved the way for countless women to jump into and progress through the sport of mountain biking - both through their bike clinics and camps throughout the country and with their online resources accessible to everyone, anytime. Since I can't magically transport all of us to the former (although that would be awesome!), let me share with you some of my go-to's from their site:
These are just a few of the great how-to videos that Liv has created. For their complete tutorial array, check these out: Mountain Biking Skills 101 and Mountain Biking Skills 201. Depending on where you are with your riding or where you're hoping to take your skills, different drills will be more helpful than others. Start small and add on. Mess around with your bike and get playful with it, just spend time on your bike! And remember - no matter where you are or what you're doing, there's always a way to take your biking to the next level.