Here is a quick guide that I put together that will help you boost your confidence on the trail and result in improving your riding skills. In my point of view, confidence is one of the most important factors getting better at Mountain Biking. Improved confidence will allow you to try out more challenging and more technical climbs and drops, also resulting in a more enjoyable ride ..
Here they are, not in any particular order:
- Practice / Repetition: Knowing the trail is very important. When you keep on repeating the same trail over and over again your body will automatically adapt to all the corners, drops and climbs. You will easily anticipate where each technical section is and you will know when to slow down, when to speed up, when to shift in advance and when to drop or raise your seat post.
- Protective Gear: Wearing proper protective gear gives you a strong feeling of confidence. A helmet is an absolute must. Knee and shin guards are optional, however I think that given the harsh terrain of Wadi Degla, they are absolutely necessary. Elbow pads are also important, but not as important as the knee pads.
- Using the right bike / equipment: Not all bikes are created equal. Some are better than others in handling certain types of riding. In Wadi Degla, you can breeze through 95% of all the sections using a hard tail, however there are certain sections that will be a lot easier with a full suspension bike. If you have a fork with long travel (130mm – 160mm), it will give you a boost of confidence on drops. Make sure your tires are in good condition. Also make sure that you have the right tire for the terrain you are riding. See this post for more info: http://mtbegypt.com/guides/the-best-tires-for-riding-on-egyptian-trails/
- Clipless Pedals: These are a double edged sword. Once you get used to them, they improve confidence and actually make your ride a lot more energy efficient. The problem is that they take a while to get used to, and during that period you actually ride with less confidence because you’re always too afraid that you won’t be able to release from your pedals in time. Personally, I use the Clip/Clipless pedals that gives you a 2-in-1. I found that to be the best option.
- Good Brakes: Knowing that bike has good brakes is a reassurance that you can push your riding to the limits of your skills and know that you have adequate stopping power on tap. Disc brakes are better than V-brakes and a worthwhile upgrade if you have a basic bike. Whatever type of brakes you have, always make sure that your braking system is well maintained.
- Ride in Groups: Group dynamics help boost confidence through competitiveness and encouragement. Try to join a group where there is an advanced rider among the group that coaches the rest.