I know what you’re thinking. You already know how to ride a bike, right? So why would you spend the money and go to a mountain bike clinic? That’s what I thought, too.
But after I attended my first Women’s “Learn to Mountain Bike” weekend, I was amazed at the impact it had on my riding. I had learned to ride my bike in a whole new way!
There was so much to learn. Body position, pedalling skills, gear shifting, braking, where to look when I’m riding – I would never have figured this on my own.
Not only did I become a better rider, my confidence increased. And my mountain bike world opened up to unexpected experiences, possibilities and new friends.
You don’t have to be a beginner to get your money’s worth. There are clinics for novice, intermediate and advanced riders. As long as you’re riding your mountain bike there’s always a new level to reach.
Simply put, attending a mountain bike clinic or camp is money well spent on your skills & safety, your bike, and most importantly, yourself. Here are five reasons why…
Learn to Ride … Correctly!
The instructor will be a certified, trained and experienced mountain biker. Hands-down, this is the best reason to sign yourself up for a bike clinic.
Many mountain bike instructors are certified PMBIA (Professional Mountain Bike Instructors Association) or BICP (Bike Instructor Certification Program). These are the certification programs for coaches and instructors that offer consistent, safe and effective learning programs world wide. Instructors with this certification are trained in how to break down skills to their basics, see these skills in new and experienced riders, and help them get to the next level.
Why You Should Learn From A Certified Instructor
Whether the clinic is designed for beginners, or those experienced riders wanting to advance their skills, it’s always a good idea to learn from certified instructors. Why? So you can learn from a professional who definitely knows what they’re doing. They will have the expertise to move you from where you are to where you want to be.
Avoid developing bad, and potentially dangerous habits. A trained instructor will be able to spot the ones you might already have, and correct them for your future riding.
So often we try to learn from someone we know. Our partner takes us out on the trails and tries to give us advice. We all know how that can turn out.
So you join a friend who has experience on the bike. While this may be fun, it might be hard for them to remember back to all the smaller steps they took when they first began to ride. What they are doing may look easy when they do it, but following your friend into a difficult section of trail can lead to disaster if you haven’t had the right instruction.
Learning mountain bike skills correctly and safely from a certified instructor in a small group setting is the best way to improve your riding and build confidence. When I’m at a clinic or sessioning a feature with a trained professional, I know I’m getting the best, safest and most personalized advice I can get. To me, that’s worth it every time!
- Podcast interviews we’ve done with professional mountain bike coaches:
- Lindsey Richter From Ladies AllRide
- Shanna Powell (aka Endless Bike Girl)
- Meagen Dennis From Dirt Series
Meet Your Riding Community
I love a great solo ride in the forest. Just me, my bike and the trees. Add a friend to the mix, or a group of women with a passion for mountain biking … that’s hitting the jackpot.
When you attend a mountain bike clinic you will meet this group. Riders of all types, who are just as passionate about riding and improving their skills as you are.
You’ll meet experienced riders who know the trails well. People who will help open doors and show you what possibilities are out there.
You’ll meet someone who is learning at the same pace as you. Now you have a new riding buddy to share stories with on the trails. Learning alongside new friends will broaden your view of the mountain bike world. There are thousands of trails out there. This is your first step to finding them!
My community has exploded with friends and biking experiences ever since I started attending clinics and group rides. I’ve learned that no question is judged and we all have the same insecurities when we ride, especially if we’re new to the sport.
We all think we’re the slow one holding everyone up. We all think we’re the only ones who feel afraid. Spoiler: we’re not and that feeling goes away.
The mountain bike community is wonderful, and I would never have found it had I not started with a bike clinic at my local shop. One friend became three and then a group. I started to go beyond my community and meet other women riders from all over the country. It all started with a single clinic registration.
Learn To Take Care of Your Bike
If you’re like many, you have no desire to fix your bike or change a tire. Bike mechanics is something that I never thought I’d understand, or need to understand. The shop staff were more than happy to fix my bike and advise me on maintenance, so I never felt I needed to learn more.
Despite my resistance, the more I rode, the more I learned about my bike anyway. Gradually I became more independent and took better care of my bike.
Attending a clinic specifically on bike maintenance is a great way to start. You will get familiar with your bike’s components and be less afraid to make adjustments.
Depending on the agenda, this may be a great opportunity to understand how tire pressure impacts your ride, how to fix a flat tire, and how to maintain your bike’s chain. You’ll learn which tools to carry with you. Maybe you’ll even gain some trailside repair hacks to help get you out of the forest if anything goes wrong.
Some bike camps offer a bike maintenance session as part of the program. Even if a specific maintenance session isn’t offered, any good bike clinic starts with a bike check before the ride.
It doesn’t have to be complicated. You’ll learn how much to inflate your tires to prevent flats and how to check your brakes. Taking care of your bike before each ride will keep you safe on the trails. It will also save you money by preventing some unnecessary repairs.
You spent a lot of money on your bike. You might as well take care of it. Who knows, with enough time and the right instruction, you might actually enjoy the DIY method. Your bike, and your wallet, will thank you for it!
Ask Questions … And Get Answers You Understand
When you’re new to a sport, it’s not always easy to know what questions to ask, or get answers you’ll understand. Sports are filled with a lot of jargon specific for the discipline. Mountain biking is no different.
There’s not always time to ask questions, especially if you’re on a group ride, and everyone is ready to go. This is not the best time to ask about tire pressure, or how to do a front-wheel lift. You’re bound to learn a few things on social rides, but they’re not the best place for a mini-lesson. Nor are they the best place to learn the do’s and don’ts and how-to’s of skill development.
A bike clinic is a safe space to ask questions, wonder out loud, and share ideas with others. There’s no such thing as holding up the group because the group is there to learn along with you.
The instructor will phrase the answers in an understandable way, not full of jargon. They know how to respond so that you have the answer to your question in a way that makes sense for you.
And if speaking in a group is not your thing, you can always ask your questions to the instructor after the clinic or session is over. You’d be surprised at how many others hang around to hear the answers as well.
Build Confidence in Yourself and in Others
One of the greatest reasons to sign up for a mountain bike camp or clinic is the growth you’ll feel in your self-confidence. As you meet other like-minded women, and share experiences, you’ll be part of a community. And because support is a two-way street, before you know it, you’ll be the one cheering on your fellow riders who are learning alongside you.
When you go to a mountain bike clinic, you’ll build skills, become more comfortable on your bike and increase your confidence. When that happens, you’ll begin to see the possibility of going further and exploring trails way beyond what you imagined.
No matter your level, there’s a space for you to get excited about mountain biking.
Types of Mountain Bike Clinics
Don’t have time for a full weekend of riding, or multi-day bike camp? No worries. There are different types of mountain bike clinics. Here’s a few:
Evening Session: Usually focused on a specific skill or set of knowledge. This might be easy bike maintenance tips or how to fix a flat tire. These are great for new or experienced mountain bikers to get to know their bike and meet other riders in their area.
One-Day Events: Similar to the evening clinic, these events usually address a specific skill or foundations. There is usually a teach & practice session followed by a group ride to apply your new skills to the trails.
Weekend Camps: These camps provide the time to work on skills and are packed full of teaching, practice and feedback. Sometimes they are offered in remote locations or outside your hometown. Don’t let this stop you. It’s a great way to solidify skills over multiple days and explore new trail networks.
While the price can be a barrier, the full two-days of riding and instruction will be well worth the travel and cost.
Progressive Series: Shorter in duration than a day camp, each session will build on skills over a period of 4-6 weeks. Riders have the opportunity to move along the mountain bike continuum over time, rather than in one continuous camp or clinic.
Quick Tips for Attending a Mountain Bike Clinic
Bring a lunch or snacks and fluids: While you won’t be going on a long, continuous ride, you’ll still need to keep your energy up and stay hydrated.
Arrive early: You’ll need time to check-in and get yourself and your bike ready.
Bring Sunscreen: It might be a long day in the sun even if you’re riding among the trees.
Be open to learning: Trust the experience of the instructor and ask questions.
Practice During and After: Skill development takes time. Be patient and get out on your bike as much as you can to practice your new found skills. Don’t let the experience you had go to waste.
Connect with others: Make a plan to ride together or follow social media groups and connect with other like-minded, amazing women. Start building your mountain bike community.
Where To Start
It’s easy. Start at your local shop. They may have ride events, weekend clinics, or evening rides posted in the shop or on their website.
You can also use our list of women’s mountain bike clinics.
Empower yourself to take your riding to the next level. With the right instructor who has the certification and knowledge, you’ll develop skills for success that you’ll come to rely on every ride.
If you do nothing else this season, take a mountain bike clinic. It will be money well-spent and I know you won’t regret it.
Good vibes start with learning to ride a bike.