While mountain biking, and cycling in general, have evolved as a sport, it's up to you to become a better rider. As our lives and the sport evolve, it is not uncommon to consider different approaches to your riding, races you may want to participate in or try a completely new discipline. For those of you who have been riding for years, you may feel like you will never cross that line into, say, e-biking, bikepacking, enduro racing, cross-country racing. But there are benefits to going outside of your comfort zone and exploring other types of riding.
I have riders who have said to me that they have been riding and racing mountain bikes for 20+ years and are convinced that they cannot ride jumps or gaps. That they’ve plateaued technically. The reality is that most life-long bikers won’t be riding the same way their whole lives, and that’s the beauty of this sport. You can teach an old dog new tricks. You just have to be willing to put in the time and be uncomfortable. However, sometimes the old dog just wants to be left to its old ways, and that’s perfectly fine!
To Become A Better Rider
Being comfortable on different types of bikes is tremendously effective in fine-tuning skills and fitness for mountain biking. Expanding your riding styles is something you should consider if you are looking to be the best rider you can be. Each discipline has something to offer a mountain biker. That doesn’t mean you have to skinsuit up and jump into the next crit race, but consider being “uncomfortable.” It’s the only way to progress and improve. Drop bar bikes, whether road or gravel, can offer additional fitness possibilities or even understand how to handle a different bike.
Adapting to New Circumstances
We all know life happens. Adapting to our life changes can still incorporate riding, but maybe not the way you once had. Illness, injury, mental health. These are all factors that riders tend to face making them choose a different path to ride down. It could be you have recently moved, and the terrain or city you now live in makes the riding you had previously done near impossible. That may mean you took that 9 to 5 job, but with kids (or other responsibilities), it’s impossible to get out for the rides you used to do. Explore other options. Maybe you, gasp, choose to ride indoors and Zwift! It’s ok. Your mountain bike will still love you. Another gasp… perhaps you just don’t love your mountain bike the way you used to. IT’S OK.
Much like how we evolve as we go through life, many of us riders will go through various cycling versions of ourselves. If possible, keep an open mind to the new experiences. The bike does not define you.
- Coach Dee