Thoughts from a MTB newby

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Thoughts from a MTB newby

Postby swaz » Sun Oct 13, 2013 7:00 am

Spent my youth racing triathlon and road racing to a semi high level. Got a job, had kids and got fat!

Sold some bikes to pay for a new mtb and went for a Trek Superfly 5 2014 model- my first ever new bike. Which I really like. But having only ever ridden a Giant XTC around a car park I have nothing to really compare it to.

The pros:
Has reinvigorated my deep passion for bikes- riding it makes me feel good!
It is quiet in the bush. Apart from the frequent swear words from me as a tree jumps out at me or as a muck up on a techy section it's very quiet.
It is different- I have ridden the roads around where I live since I could ride a bike and I am sick of it. Having a bike that can do an OK job of going on a bike path and handle almost anything off road has opened up a lot of options.
I get to hang out with mates more. MTBing seems more social to me. They don't ride at 5am and in general it seems to be a bit less 'clicky'
It doesn't matter if you get dropped on a ride as there is too much other stuff to think about. The constant scanning, assessing, sphincter clenching means there is always something to do.
No sore butt. I was sure that my arse would be sore after 3 hour rides... but no!
I am a complete newby. Not that I know everything about road and tri, but I know a lot and it's nice to learn something new and have new challenges.
I can easily ditch the technology. I have a Garmin 500 and apart from the route feature and downloading my data post ride I don't even bother looking at it. In fact I don't know how people find the time to have their eyes down there and not on the course ahead.
Camelbaks. I don't have this particular brand, but they are fantastic! No reaching down to get a drink

The cons:
Driving to places to ride. Granted it's only a 15min drive to one of the best XC tracks (so I am told) in the state. But still, putting a wheel on and off all the time. Getting the inside of the car dirty etc. is a downside and I will be looking at an external bike carrier in the future.
My lack of skills slows me down more than my fitness. I am a complete newby and make dumb mistakes like holding on for dear life instead of relaxing and letting it roll. I hope my fear of injuring myself goes away with time.
There is just as much gear to buy. Wish I could have afforded a dual suspension. Had to buy new gloves, shoes, shock pump, camelbak etc.
Far out it raises your HR. There are very few opportunities to rest.
The list of things I have to do around the house is still as long as it was and will now take me 5x as long to complete because I have to wedge a ride into my weekend somewhere.
Only being able to afford an entry level, heavy bike.
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by BNA » Sun Oct 13, 2013 11:21 am

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Re: Thoughts from a MTB newby

Postby trailgumby » Sun Oct 13, 2013 11:21 am

If you can get yourself to a skills class early on it will help you immeasurably. You'll benefit from learning the right techniques up front without having to unlearn bad habits you've picked up. You'll also get useful tips in setting up your bike and controls.

If it's only a 15 minute drive to the trailhead, as your fitness improves I'd suggest riding the 30-35 minutes to the trailhead. Forms a great warmup for me.

Take a look at MTBTips.com. He has a really good range of skills videos. While the presentation was a bit cheesy early on he has really settled into a comfortable groove and I look forward to my weekly instalments :D

This was my ride today - haven't been on the mtb for 6 weeks or so. Bike control was better than I expected but the cold I had last week has set my asthma off and I was coughing my guts up every time we stopped. Might have been better if we didn't stop!

Camelbaks are good but I still prefer to be bareback when racing. So a bottle cage is a good idea. Anyway, putting carbs in your bladder usually doesn't end well :x :lol: So I keep them in the bottle.

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Re: Thoughts from a MTB newby

Postby swaz » Sun Oct 13, 2013 12:52 pm

Thanks for the advice. I have seen those skill lessons for sale. In two minds about them. The bike shop I got the bike from has shop rides and there are some very skilled riders working in there who are happy to show me the ropes. I have been watching Chris from MTBtips for a few weeks now and it has been very useful. I find it a bit different when out there though. He says to relax but when everything is happening to fast for me to comprehend it's a whole other story!
I don't do carbs when riding, only water. I've got enough fat in reserve to last about 3 months of non-stop riding. Always carry an apple and banana in my pack though just in case.
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Re: Thoughts from a MTB newby

Postby Mulger bill » Sun Oct 13, 2013 2:11 pm

Welcome to the Dirt Side, unleash your inner 16yo! 8)
...whatever the road rules, self-preservation is the absolute priority for a cyclist when mixing it with motorised traffic.
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Re: Thoughts from a MTB newby

Postby bychosis » Sun Oct 13, 2013 2:27 pm

<--------- this. MTB is for fun, road riding is for business (training, commuting etc).

Plus one for ride to the trails. It takes me about 30min to ride to glenrock (one of the best in the state). It takes me 15ish min to drive, but add ten minutes to load/unload and it works out even time wise, if not HR and sweat-wise.
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Re: Thoughts from a MTB newby

Postby swaz » Sun Oct 13, 2013 3:07 pm

bychosis wrote:<--------- this. MTB is for fun, road riding is for business (training, commuting etc).

Plus one for ride to the trails. It takes me about 30min to ride to glenrock (one of the best in the state). It takes me 15ish min to drive, but add ten minutes to load/unload and it works out even time wise, if not HR and sweat-wise.

Glenrock is on the to-do list along with Awaba. I think I might have found a trail to the trails at Ourimbah which would be awesome!
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Re: Thoughts from a MTB newby

Postby bychosis » Sun Oct 13, 2013 7:49 pm

Even better if you can get there off the road. For me it's about 50% off road to get there.
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Re: Thoughts from a MTB newby

Postby swaz » Mon Oct 14, 2013 10:59 am

bychosis wrote:Even better if you can get there off the road. For me it's about 50% off road to get there.

It looks like I can get there on aerial maps, but in reality it might be a bit different.
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Re: Thoughts from a MTB newby

Postby barefoot » Mon Oct 14, 2013 2:34 pm

swaz wrote:The cons:
Driving to places to ride. Granted it's only a 15min drive to one of the best XC tracks (so I am told) in the state. But still, putting a wheel on and off all the time. Getting the inside of the car dirty etc. is a downside and I will be looking at an external bike carrier in the future.


This is what's seeing me, as a lifetime MTBer [1], riding much more road and hardly any MTB lately.

Family life means that bike riding time is at a premium. If I can get an hour or two off, I _could_ spent half that time getting to the trails and back (or riding there on an inappropriate and somewhat cumbersome bike), or I could just clip in to the roadie and be on the game right out of the gate.

The free-est free time I have at the moment is time when the family are asleep. So the stupid o'clock in the morning rides are just fine. Home in time for the morning routine.

That said, I'm really really looking forward to the summer dirt crits season starting tomorrow night. Again, in the interest of efficient use of ride time... I'd prefer to just ride for the hell of it, but having a standing appointment for a half hour race once a week week actually gets me out there far more than I would if I tried to do a longer social ride less often.

Road and MTB are very different sports indeed. The skills and fitness are largely transferable, but the vibe is quite different. I'm kind of looking forward to seeing who of my usual dirt crit competition have got fat and slow over winter (while I was out there grinding icy cold tarmac in the pre-dawn darkness). Now I just need to recover my atrophied bike handling skills and maybe even upgrade them to mach the upgraded legs :oops:

tim

[1] ever since I got Dad to put a 3-speed Sturmey hub on my BMX when I was about 10...
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Re: Thoughts from a MTB newby

Postby swaz » Mon Oct 14, 2013 5:11 pm

I am with you there barefoot. I wasn't riding my road/tri/single speed bike though as I have been everywhere around here and the groups that do ride are far too serious for me. MTBing seems a LOT less serious and more about the things I am about. Which is getting out there, having a good time, being outdoors and taking the piss out of each other. I've also reconnected with an old mate and have a standing arrangement for a Sunday ride each week. I also have some of the best working hours and can call into Ourimbah XC track on the way home, do a lap and be home by 4:30-5pm!
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Re: Thoughts from a MTB newby

Postby trailgumby » Mon Oct 14, 2013 5:36 pm

Ourimbah is one of my favorite places to ride. That place rocks.

Moderately techy, naturalistic trails with switchbacks and drop-offs aplenty in equal measure. Can be ridden on a hardtail but rewards dual suspension too. This is the trail most likely to reward 26er agility ... but 29ers still rule :P

Hmm might be time to organise a day trip...
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Re: Thoughts from a MTB newby

Postby swaz » Mon Oct 14, 2013 6:09 pm

trailgumby wrote:Ourimbah is one of my favorite places to ride. That place rocks.

Moderately techy, naturalistic trails with switchbacks and drop-offs aplenty in equal measure. Can be ridden on a hardtail but rewards dual suspension too. This is the trail most likely to reward 26er agility ... but 29ers still rule :P

Hmm might be time to organise a day trip...

Let me know if you come up. Give me a 10min head start and I will ride the track with you.

I have only ridden it once, but it seems to be made for a dual 26" with the ability to lock out the rear for the climbs.

I like the uphills and suck at the downhills.
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Re: Thoughts from a MTB newby

Postby rokwiz » Fri Oct 18, 2013 2:03 pm

MTBking is so much more fun, no social group takes it to seriously. If you get a chance try Brisbane Waters NP or better still Mt Pilot NP, Beechworth in Victoria.
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Re: Thoughts from a MTB newby

Postby bighead89 » Sat Oct 19, 2013 12:27 am

swaz wrote: having a good time, being outdoors and taking the piss out of each other.


So true!
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Re: Thoughts from a MTB newby

Postby trailgumby » Sun Oct 20, 2013 11:42 am

swaz wrote:Thanks for the advice. I have seen those skill lessons for sale. In two minds about them. The bike shop I got the bike from has shop rides and there are some very skilled riders working in there who are happy to show me the ropes. I have been watching Chris from MTBtips for a few weeks now and it has been very useful. I find it a bit different when out there though. He says to relax but when everything is happening to fast for me to comprehend it's a whole other story!
I don't do carbs when riding, only water. I've got enough fat in reserve to last about 3 months of non-stop riding. Always carry an apple and banana in my pack though just in case.

Carbs during the ride will help you keep the intensity up, and burn more fat. It also stops you burning your muscles up and you recover faster for the next ride. Well, my experience anyway, and there is some science to back this up. And from a safety perspective, it stops my brain from getting foggy and making mistakes, which can have consequences.

The relaxation will come as your skills become a bit more automated. Loose rocky scree fire trail descents for example used to utterly freak me out. Now I just focus on keeping the bike centred under me and use the little clear patches to steer and pint the bike on the correct line for the next loose section. Also, as you become more familiar with the tracks, you're not having to process so much new information at once.

Today I rode some technical trails in my area I hadn't been on previously. I (and half our crew for that matter) did a lot of walking. But I'll go back and session some of those parts and gradually I'll work up to riding the whole trail. But the trails I was familiar with, no problem.

http://www.strava.com/activities/90112809
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Re: Thoughts from a MTB newby

Postby you cannot be sirrus » Sun Oct 20, 2013 5:06 pm

Great thread, As someone who has written a nice letter to Santa and is expecting a MTB to be parked under the tree on Xmas morning you have really whetted my appetite. last time I owned a MTB I used it to transport my son around in a rear seat, he's 19 next month, it's been far too long.
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Re: Thoughts from a MTB newby

Postby trailgumby » Sun Oct 20, 2013 6:25 pm

The primary advantage from doing a skills class is that you will learn little drills that you can practice in your backyard.

The class I did, after running an eye over all our bikes' setup, we ran high and lowspeed cornering drills in a schoolyard, before moving to hopping over logs, wheelies, manuals, step-ups and roll-downs. This took most of the morning.

In the afternoon we then did a lap of Manly Dam where we ran the skills we learned about in the morning, including sessioning some of the trickier obstacles. We "spotted" each other, so that if any of us fell when attempting an obstacle there would be two or more others to catch you.

I practice the low speed cornering and step up/down drills regularly, Man, do they work your butt and core! Came in very handy today.

The class was inexpensive and worth every cent.

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Re: Thoughts from a MTB newby

Postby jandb » Mon Oct 21, 2013 10:42 am

swaz wrote:I hope my fear of injuring myself goes away with time.

To a point. I still think a little bit of fear (or call it respect) is healthy and may prevent injury.

Perhaps my own caution is influenced by an unnecessary stack I had last year - just finished a tough-ish ride and was cruising on flat road trying to reach my water bottle when I took my eyes off the road, hit a small rock, locked up the brakes & went over the bars breaking a couple ribs. Painful and a bit embarrassing!
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Re: Thoughts from a MTB newby

Postby Duck! » Mon Oct 21, 2013 1:03 pm

swaz wrote:I don't do carbs when riding, only water. I've got enough fat in reserve to last about 3 months of non-stop riding. Always carry an apple and banana in my pack though just in case.

I suspect maybe you're getting mixed up between carbs and electrolytes. Carbs provide fuel to keep the body going, electrolytes carry nerve signals into the muscles, ensuring proper function. Electrolyte imbalance results in poor nerve signal transmission, which causes the muscle tissue to get confused with what it's meant to be doing, and you suffer cramps. Drinking water only will cause an electrolyte imbalance, because you're not replacing the minerals you lose in sweat.
I had a thought, but it got run over as it crossed my mind.
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Re: Thoughts from a MTB newby

Postby swaz » Fri Oct 25, 2013 10:46 am

Duck! wrote:
swaz wrote:I don't do carbs when riding, only water. I've got enough fat in reserve to last about 3 months of non-stop riding. Always carry an apple and banana in my pack though just in case.

I suspect maybe you're getting mixed up between carbs and electrolytes. Carbs provide fuel to keep the body going, electrolytes carry nerve signals into the muscles, ensuring proper function. Electrolyte imbalance results in poor nerve signal transmission, which causes the muscle tissue to get confused with what it's meant to be doing, and you suffer cramps. Drinking water only will cause an electrolyte imbalance, because you're not replacing the minerals you lose in sweat.

Having an exercise physiology degree I don't think I am getting them mixed up :) I don't wish this to go down a debate path, but water for me on a 3 hr ride is perfectly fine. I have trained myself to primarily burn fat and not carbs, mostly because I don't eat many carbs each day and I don't do electrolyte drinks anymore.
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Re: Thoughts from a MTB newby

Postby swaz » Fri Oct 25, 2013 10:50 am

trailgumby wrote:The primary advantage from doing a skills class is that you will learn little drills that you can practice in your backyard.

The class I did, after running an eye over all our bikes' setup, we ran high and lowspeed cornering drills in a schoolyard, before moving to hopping over logs, wheelies, manuals, step-ups and roll-downs. This took most of the morning.


That sounds good. Are these still run? I haven't ridden for 2 weeks. Mainly due to a cold, the other due to disappointment I am not enjoying being on the trails as much as I thought I would. Am on the brakes the whole way and have no idea what the hell I am doing, and I don't like not knowing what to do!
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Re: Thoughts from a MTB newby

Postby trailgumby » Fri Oct 25, 2013 12:10 pm

The course I did was through AMBC. The instructors were excellent, but I have heard since there were issues with the operation honoring prepaid gift vouchers and I'm not sure if they are still in business.

Here's an alternative: http://www.sydneybikeskills.com.au/ I've ridden with the instructor/owner and she's a far more skilled rider than I am! And her pricing is pretty attractive too.

Like I said, bear in mind that Ourimbah is moderately technical. My first ride there was a teams race, track unseen, while still a beginner. I had massive arm pump and cramps by the end of my first lap, and by the end of the second I was toast... I feared being able to hang onto the handlebars for another full lap was an impossibility!

The good news is you will get used to it, and it will become easier. There is a massive jump in bike handling skills between road and mtb, and ripping the climbs and sucking at descents is the usual story - and a standing funny story among seasoned dirt riders about roadies. You need to ride more often, not less.
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Re: Thoughts from a MTB newby

Postby clackers » Fri Oct 25, 2013 12:18 pm

swaz wrote: I have trained myself to primarily burn fat and not carbs, mostly because I don't eat many carbs each day and I don't do electrolyte drinks anymore.


Swaz, you cannot primarily burn fat doing hard activity. :)

You're chewing through glycogen in aerobic and anaerobic exercise.
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Re: Thoughts from a MTB newby

Postby swaz » Fri Oct 25, 2013 5:47 pm

clackers wrote:
swaz wrote: I have trained myself to primarily burn fat and not carbs, mostly because I don't eat many carbs each day and I don't do electrolyte drinks anymore.


Swaz, you cannot primarily burn fat doing hard activity. :)

You're chewing through glycogen in aerobic and anaerobic exercise.

OK
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Re: Thoughts from a MTB newby

Postby swaz » Fri Oct 25, 2013 5:54 pm

trailgumby wrote:The course I did was through AMBC. The instructors were excellent, but I have heard since there were issues with the operation honoring prepaid gift vouchers and I'm not sure if they are still in business.

Here's an alternative: http://www.sydneybikeskills.com.au/ I've ridden with the instructor/owner and she's a far more skilled rider than I am! And her pricing is pretty attractive too.

Like I said, bear in mind that Ourimbah is moderately technical. My first ride there was a teams race, track unseen, while still a beginner. I had massive arm pump and cramps by the end of my first lap, and by the end of the second I was toast... I feared being able to hang onto the handlebars for another full lap was an impossibility!

The good news is you will get used to it, and it will become easier. There is a massive jump in bike handling skills between road and mtb, and ripping the climbs and sucking at descents is the usual story - and a standing funny story among seasoned dirt riders about roadies. You need to ride more often, not less.

Cheers Trailgumby. I am going to have a serious think about a skills day. I work with a guy who is more than handy on a mtb and he has offered to take me out and go through things. If that doesn't work I will go the paid skills thing. I reckon the blokes at the shop would probably spend the morning showing me some things if a case of beer was on offer.
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