The Importance of Gradual Progression
It doesn’t matter if you’re training for a big race with your school’s cycling team, or if you just want to push yourself to learn new riding techniques. There is an undeniable satisfaction that comes with improvement. Many bike riders are capable of riding fast, but riding fast on rough terrain with control? Now you’re talking. Of course you’re eager to take to the air and jump that gap on your local track or trail, but progression is the key to clearing it safely and successfully. If you’re not ready for it, and you fail, you risk injuring yourself. Instead, take the time to build your skills to do it right. Progression will help you get there.
Establishing the fundamental mountain biking building blocks is crucial to riding with more precision, power, and performance. Small hops, smaller rock jumps, and gradual progressions to the larger gap jump will lead you to a solid, skilled landing. Most people aren’t born talented at doing the things they love. For some, the challenge of learning and improving is what drives them to push themselves to not only get better, but to be great.
If you are an MTB coach, your goal is to make sure your students are trained properly so they can continually improve their performance. Teaching riders how to get comfortable with standing on balanced pedals, safe braking practices, appropriate gear use for the terrain they’re riding, and climbing techniques all play a huge role in helping them progress.
Another technique for getting comfortable is mindful breathing. Something as simple as using breathing to control the heart rate during climbs and more challenging terrain can improve performance over time. Rushing from one skill to the next is one of the main reasons most riders never see real progress. It’s better to practice gradually and methodically with purpose.
Let’s face it. Most of us want to ride at our peak level as soon as we put foot to pedal. Well, practice is crucial for making that happen. Every skill you can think of improves with practice, and mountain biking is no exception. The more you do it, the more you can hone your skills and apply new, more advanced MTB techniques. Practice never ends, and neither does learning.
Using training areas at bike parks or practicing on your Yardi features at home will help you develop the muscle memory to ride how you want. Being able to ride skinnies is important, but without learning to keep your balance, you’re going to struggle. You might have a burning desire to be airborne, but before you can move on to the hips, gaps, and larger drops, you need to be able to control your bike and master the basics. That comes with practice.
Embrace the Process
Progression is a process when it comes to mountain biking. Who doesn’t want to see their riding skills improve so they can tackle bigger challenges on more advanced trails or training features? To excel in the MTB sport is to push through your limitations and challenge yourself physically and mentally—but safely. You can help your progression by increasing total ride time, the length of training intervals, the number of training sessions, and intensity.
Put in the time and enjoy the ride!