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.
I attended an intermediate skill clinic last year and had an awesome time. My riding improved instantly and I have...
Ninja Mountain Bike Skills
I attended an intermediate skill clinic last year and had an awesome time. My riding improved instantly and I have really enjoyed the increased confidence jumping my bike over obstacles. My muscle memory takes a while to kick in and Coach Richard and his crew of master Ninjas were really patient with me. I even got some bonus education on climbing faster during one of our warm-up laps! Even though I have been riding for years I learned something new with every skill taught. The clinic was worth every penny and I will be signing up for an advanced one this summer. ~Michael W.
Went to the beginner Ninja clinic at Alison. Richard and Kristen were awesome! We all got the opportunity to work...
Ninja Mountain Bike Skills
Went to the beginner Ninja clinic at Alison. Richard and Kristen were awesome! We all got the opportunity to work on improving our skills with their feedback. Next time I would definitely do the intermediate clinic or do a one-on-one session. Richard is super patient and provides great feedback and riding tips. ~ Lisa D.
My speed and confidence going down steep descents have been SIGNIFICANTLY improved!
I just had my first race (XC endurance) since I did the camp and both my speed and confidence going...
Ninja Mountain Bike Skills
I just had my first race (XC endurance) since I did the camp and both my speed and confidence going down steep descents have been SIGNIFICANTLY improved. I would not have attempted 50% of the drops and jumps on the course prior to participating in the clinic, and my overall time would have been much slower. The first two hours of the class (int/adv Sedona) made the whole thing more than worth it, and the rest of the two days seemed like a bonus. Both Courtney and Richard were encouraging and patient, and both had that classic mountain biker charm and humor ready when the moment called for it. Overall a very enjoyable and valuable weekend. For reference, I participate in amateur XC endurance races (with no hope of ever coming close to winning anything) and have been riding for about two years. I was worried before taking the class that I would not be skilled enough, but the int/adv was appropriate for my skill level. If you're worried, just go for it anyway. There is a good mix of people and everyone was very friendly! ~Alana Bencivengo
The course was very fluid, engaging, and I would highly recommend it.
I took the intermediate/advanced course in Balboa Park after having ridden for just over 2 years on my own. It...
Ninja Mountain Bike Skills
I took the intermediate/advanced course in Balboa Park after having ridden for just over 2 years on my own. It covered a wide breadth of skills, some of which I already felt aquatinted with and others I had little to no experience with. I found all of the material useful. I was able to improve skills I already had and was able to learn new skills. I also feel confident leaving the course that the instructors have provided all of the information for me to practice and improve outside of the course setting. The environment of Balboa Park was perfect for learning and sessioning the skills covered. The instructors were friendly, fun, and attentive to all of the participants. They spent more or less time on certain skills based on how the entire group was grasping them. They also gave individualized attention to participants that required more help with technique. The course was very fluid, engaging, and I would highly recommend it. ~Heather B.
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.