Exploring new places on two wheels is just one of the many reasons we love riding mountain bikes, but for newer riders who are still gaining confidence and building skills, riding unfamiliar terrain can be intimidating.
But don't let the unknown keep you from visiting new places or trying new trails in your backyard. Riders of all skill levels benefit from the challenge of mixing things up because riding new features and topography helps us progress on the bike.
Here are 6 tips for navigating uncharted territory with confidence:
1) Know before you go. Thanks to apps like Trailforks, there is more beta available for mountain bike trails than ever before. See trail ratings and elevation profiles, learn where certain features are and see photos of others riding them, see current trail conditions, get driving directions, parking info, and more before you hit the trail so you know what to expect.
2) Don't rush it. Save new trails for a day when you have plenty of time to scout lines and repeat technical sections. Being in a hurry will not only prevent you from enjoying the new scenery, but it can also make you more nervous.
3) Bring a buddy. Riding unfamiliar terrain alone can add unnecessary stress, so bring a friend along for a more relaxed and fun experience.
4) Follow a friend. Whether it's a more skilled rider or a friend who knows the trail, staying on someone else's wheel is a great way to learn the lines and boost confidence.
5) Walk when you need to. Never be ashamed or embarrassed to walk a section of trail, whether it's your first time or your 100th time riding it. Take the opportunity to walk your bike down the exact line you would ride to see how your wheels roll through it. Do this enough times, and you'll eventually feel ready to give it a go.
6) Smile, relax, and have fun. We tend to put pressure on ourselves to perform, which can only make us more anxious. Try to focus on having fun, knowing that the more you ride something, the more you will improve. We also highly recommend smiling because it relaxes your whole body, which will improve your bike handling — win-win!