Skills: 3 Elemental Mountain Biking Tips

If you’re looking to learn to mountain bike—or further hone your off-road cycling skills—an expert-led skills clinic is one of the best ways to dial things in. While simple saddle time and practice on your own can eventually make perfect, focused learning in a multi-day clinic or camp will get you there faster (and with the right technique).

One example is the “Master the Mountain Bike Clinic,” which is taking place this weekend in Crested Butte, Colorado (July 26-August 2). Organized by Eleven Experience, an organizer of vacation experiences that combine adventure and luxury, and led by Western Spirit Cycling Adventures, a respected, Moab-based cycling tour operator, the four-day clinic will focus on teaching guests the fundamentals of mountain biking in a luxury setting.

Base camp is Scarp Ridge Lodge, an upscale chalet located downtown; welcome post-ride amenities include a saltwater pool, steam room, sauna, roof deck hot tub, and spa services. Luxury has its price, however, but if you’re looking to learn in a luxury environment, this is the clinic for you (five-nights, $7200 per person, including include all meals, non-alcoholic beverages, activities and necessary gear, instruction, and round-trip airport transportation).

Beyond pampering, what you get is “a very comprehensive clinic covering all the elements of mountain biking including, braking, shifting, stance, weighting, turning, climbing, and downhill,” says Western Spirit co-owner Mark Sevenoff. Attendees will also review taped rides with the instructors and cool off with a paddleboard session on the local Lake Irwin.

If you’re looking for a more affordable mountain bike learning session, we also love the SheRide women’s-specific camps held in Colorado and Trek’s DirstSeries camps, some of which are women’s-specific, held in the Western U.S. and Canada.

Ready to get started today? Here, we check in with Sevenoff to learn three of his favorite mountain biking tips that can help neophytes and aficianados alike:

1. Go medium speed. Try not to go too fast or too slow. Go too fast and you’re more likely to crash and fall. Go too slow and you may not have enough momentum to roll over rocks or other obstacles in the trail. A medium speed lets you feel the flow without being out of control.
2. Stay loose. Relax the death grip on your bike. Don’t over-grip and let your body stay loose with the changing terrain. Try not to overreact to every bump and rock; let your bike and shocks do the work for you.
3. Look ahead. Instead of looking straight down at your tires, try to look ahead to see what’s coming next. This will help you anticipate your next moves. It also helps estimate shifting needs and keeps you in the flow.

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Erinn Morgan


After a 10-year career as an award-winning New York City-based editor launching and redesigning urban, style-driven magazines, Erinn Morgan left her downtown Manhattan digs after September 11th, 2001, in search of a less encumbered, freelance lifestyle. A life-changing, two-year-long trek around the country in a motorhome eventually landed her in Durango, Colo., which she now calls home. Her writing has appeared in numerous— More about this author →