One of the first memories you may have as a kid was learning how to ride a bike. And, as the saying goes, it’s one skill that you will never forget. That being said, mountain biking is a bit more involved than say, pedaling around the neighborhood. Rocks, tree roots and switchbacks add a whole new level of complexity, not to mention berms, rollers and the rewarding descent.
Whether you’re a novice or intermediate mountain biker, if you want to take your riding a bit more seriously, it is worth it to look at taking a mountain bike lesson to hone your skills and build your confidence out on the trails. Not only does this make your riding better but also safer and more enjoyable.
At Jans we offer mountain bike lessons with Expert instructors through our White Pine Touring Guide Service. We have been providing these lessons, in conjunction with our guided tours and free weekly group rides, for many years now and the instructors are seasoned bikers who ride almost every day and know our trail system like the back of their hand.
I sat down with one of our mountain bike instructors, Victoria Ritzinger, and asked her a couple of questions about how a lesson can benefit your riding.
PB: Almost anyone can ride a bike. What are the immediate benefits of getting out on the trails with an instructor?
VR: A lesson helps you hone your skills from the beginning of the ride to the end. We also teach you how to ride safely and not hurt yourself or anyone else. Being on the trail with an instructor helps build your self-confidence as well as increasing your knowledge of the bike and how it works.
PB: Mountain biking is a dynamic sport with lots of different skills required. How do I know which lesson of our three options, MTB 101, 201 or 301 is right for me?
VR: This is one of the most challenging things for an instructor. I’ll ask all sorts of questions before we leave the shop to make sure you are familiar with the lesson and the skill level required. If you’re not sure if the lesson you signed up for is the right one, that’s ok as it is a private ride, so we can make adjustments throughout the class.
PB: Do you talk about the bike and how it functions before the ride?
VR: Of course. We go over any part of the bike that you may not be familiar with. We focus on the fit, braking for safety, and shifting. Before we leave the shop, we discuss any accessories that you may need like water bottles, sunglasses, and extra layers.
PB: How long is the lesson? How far do you go?
VR: This is entirely up to the rider and what they want to accomplish or focus on. A lesson is normally two hours and the distance is determined by rider preference and ability level. But we are always flexible and take breaks when needed or work on a certain skill such as cornering or climbing technical terrain. Our goal is to make sure our clients are having a great time out on the trails.
PB: What if “my friend that rides a lot” tells me to do something differently?
VR: We always ask our clients to try something the way we are teaching them while explaining the benefits. Then we make comparisons with what they already know and see what works better for them as a rider.
PB: What certifications do you have as an instructor? How long have you been guiding?
VR: I have been guiding and teaching lessons for six years at White Pine Touring, which is about average among our instructors. Some have been guiding for over a decade. I usually teach the MTB 101 (beginner) and MTB 201 (intermediate) level mountain bike classes. I am CPR and First Aid certified, and have done guide training with White Pine Touring, as have all the guides that work with me.
PB: How do I sign up?
There you have it. Each lesson is tailored to your interests and ability level, and is taught by instructors like Victoria with years of experience, so you really can’t go wrong. Whether you want to learn how to climb more efficiently or cruise through switchbacks like a pro, any one of our mountain bike lessons can deliver. So the question becomes why not take a mountain bike lesson?
Paul Boyle, Marketing Associate