We aren’t usually in the business of offering relationship advice but when it comes to riding with your +1, we have a few suggestions to help you both start and finish your ride still smiling!
We understand that every (riding) relationship is different so think of these guidelines as a solid starting point. Ready to get shreddy? Let’s go…
Take a few minutes to gather your gear and get into the right mindset for your romp on the trails. You don’t want to show up unprepared – look over your bike, make sure you’ve got your fix a flat kit, fill up your water bottles, double check your tire pressure, lube your chain, and most importantly, take a deep breath. Don’t take yourself too seriously, this is supposed to be fun after all!
Okay, you are ready to ride.
2. Meet in the Middle
Pick a trail that you will both enjoy. The guidelines for riding with your partner aren’t all that different than the textbook relationship advice you’ve heard a hundred times – it’s all about compromise. Keep a nice pace that you can both sustain, ride a trail that is challenging but not over your heads and for goodness sake, spend some time actually riding together!
3. Get Up
Learning how to successfully get your partner to the top is a skilled art. If you are the stronger climber, swallow your pride and slow it down for a bit. If you are going stir crazy, have some fun with the slower pace (just keep it in your own head). Focus on perfecting your track stand on the climb or try to single-speed the climb (pick a gear and don’t shift).
On the flip side, if you are the slower climber, tell your partner your preferences and be honest. Want them to ride with you and chat on the climb? Tell them. Want them to ride ahead so you can sing out-loud unencumbered on the climb? Tell them. No need for mixed signals on the trail. Be clear and direct.
4. Get Down
Maybe you are a little faster than you partner and you really want to let loose on the downhill flow. Totally fair. What’s not fair is descending for 30 minutes at full speed and then complaining about having to wait 20 minutes for your partner to catch up. Instead, break up the descent into bite size pieces. Let loose for a section of the descent and then pull over and wait for your partner to catch up. Maybe let them lead one section of the descent before you take the lead again.
5. Fuel the Fire
No one likes a thirsty and/or hangry riding partner. Bring plenty of water and snacks. Learn your partner’s favorite trailside treat and bring it in your pack for a mid-ride surprise. My personal favorite riding pick me up? Chocolate covered espresso beans.
6. Keep it Fun
Assuming you aren’t training to win a national title, don’t take yourself too seriously. Stop and session challenging features together. Offer to spot your partner. Be patient. Don’t get frustrated with yourself or your partner on the trail. No one likes riding with a frustrated Debbie Downer.
7. Watch Your Words
Unless otherwise discussed, don’t try to coach your partner. Let a trained mountain bike therapist (Ninja Instructor) offer riding feedback. Trained professionals can help you navigate choppy skills. Whatever you do, don’t offer Bad Mountain Biking Advice!
8. Finish with a [insert favorite post-ride treat here]
End every ride with a good ol’ cheers. Maybe you cheers with water bottles in the parking lot or maybe it’s beers at the local brewery or better yet, a slice of pizza. Whatever you choose, take a moment to celebrate spending quality time together with your bike…I mean each other!
9. Seek Professional Help
If things have gotten rocky don’t be afraid to see the professionals. Join us for a Ninja camp or clinic so you can start speaking the same language and learn how to work through riding the rocks together. Make a weekend getaway out of it at one of our most buzzed about locations like Sedona, Kingdom Trails, or Bend to reignite that fire that got you riding together in the first place.
They’ve helped build my confidence and competence!
Coming from a triathlon background I had spent most of my time on the road, though I did have a...
Coming from a triathlon background I had spent most of my time on the road, though I did have a few seasons of cyclocross under my belt. I was a novice mountain biker with just enough confidence to get myself into trouble on the trails. I started by attending the free Tuesday night mountain bike workouts at Balboa Park, led by Coach Richard. While these are primarily geared toward building fitness, we learned some skills tips and I met some cool folks. Since then I've taken the intermediate and advanced skills clinics, as well as raced a couple times. Coaches Richard and Kris are great at instruction, which is not easy. Most great riders cannot teach others to do the same, but these two are exceptional at it. They've helped build my confidence and competence. In fact they have taken time during weekday and weekend rides to help give me pointers! I joined Team Ninja to train and race with this fun crew and would highly advise you check them out! ~Henry H.
All in all, you couldn’t get more for your money than this clinic.
This clinic was PERFECT for me…as a very experienced roadie but pure beginner on MTBs, Richard’s instruction was clear, detailed,...
This clinic was PERFECT for me…as a very experienced roadie but pure beginner on MTBs, Richard’s instruction was clear, detailed, and specific, so that I could start to get the feel of how to work effectively on trails instead of asphalt. Jeff (a former elite cyclocross racer) also joined us and added some solid hints and comments. All in all, you couldn’t get more for your money than this clinic. ~ Mike Sofen
I highly recommend their skills camps, and plan on attending more …
I've been a recreational mountain bike rider for a few years, and have been riding on single track, but never...
I've been a recreational mountain bike rider for a few years, and have been riding on single track, but never had any formal training. I just finished the weekend skills course in Irvine, CA with Richard, Randy and Daniel as the instructors. They are excellent instructors breaking every fundamental skill down, demonstrating the skill and then evaluating your practice runs with constructive criticism before applying the skills on the trails. Even though I have been riding single track for a few years, I quickly found out that I have been doing many things if not everything wrong, which means the people I ride with are doing it wrong too. Richard, Randy and Daniel are very patient and professional encouraging every student no matter what the age or gender (our class had males and females from late 20s to late 50s). They went over everything from bike set up, basic position, turning, high speed cornering, wheels lifts to you name it. If you have a desire to improve your skill then Ninja Mountain Bike Performance are the team to go to! I highly recommend their skills camps, and plan on attending more of their camps in the future. ~Kyle Kimm
Just finished the Intermediate/Advanced course. I had previously taken the Beginning course about a year ago. I was not disappointed....
Just finished the Intermediate/Advanced course. I had previously taken the Beginning course about a year ago. I was not disappointed. The preparation and lesson planning is great. Instructors seem to be everywhere providing input and excellent advice. Both groups had a wide range of skilled riders, but the team made everyone welcome and everyone learned important new skills. This training makes everyday more fun on my bike. DAY 2: Just rode one of my "regular" morning workout routes. 2 PR's - and I thought I was just cruising. I was making no effort to ride fast... just smooth like I was taught. ~Peter O.
….and I thought I already knew how to corner (ha, ha!)!
Congrats to Richard, Hannah, Bernadette, Cory, Shana and company for a great clinic covering many skills, all practical, in a...
Congrats to Richard, Hannah, Bernadette, Cory, Shana and company for a great clinic covering many skills, all practical, in a great environment for learning . Your professionalism, skill and experience in teaching, choice of terrain to teach in, and enthusiasm all made this a totally worthwhile experience. I would do it again and again as you never stop learning. ....and I thought I already knew how to corner (ha, ha!)! ~James Crawford
We are a group of passionate, dirt-loving, community oriented, world class mountain bike skills instructors committed to helping you reach your personal riding goals through clinics and camps. We are excited to work with riders of all ability levels and share the joy (STOKE) of mountain biking.