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Ninja Mountain Bike Performance - Skills Clinics, MTB Jump Ramps and Bike Stands

We’ve officially entered one of our favorite seasons… the birds are chirping, the days are longer, and, depending on where you are, you might be seeing the ground for the first time in months. The good news: it’s time to get back on your bike. The bad news: the weather can be finicky. But your ride plans don’t have to be foiled from a little pesky H2O. Follow these 7 steps to ride the wet with maximum fun and minimal damage to the trails and your gear, plus the added bonus of boosting your skills on the bike.

Check yourself

It doesn’t matter how much pep you’ve mustered to head out for a soggy excursion, you need to determine how the trails hold up to being ridden in wet conditions. Some trails are built to withstand it with excellent drainage – these generally have rocky or loamy surfaces. Other soil types will absorb water turning into mud pits that become giant, double track bogs. When it eventually dries out the results are deep, ruts – AKA a trail builder’s worst nightmare that will take countless hours to repair. Learn more about reading the dirt here.

Yes, that’s a lot of variables. If you’re not sure, check with your trail advocacy group or swing by your local bike shop to gather trail beta and load up on any last-minute gear you might need.

Terri Watts and Emily Cox at Windrock Pro GRT

1. Gear up

You’ve heard it before: there’s no such thing as bad weather, just bad gear. Invest in a quality rain jacket that rides the line between water resistant and windproof while still being breathable. Layer up with a few thin layers that you can peel off on the climbs and put back on for chilly descents. As with cold-weather riding, if you’re warm hanging out in the parking lot getting ready to roll out, you’re probably wearing too much.

We get it – rain jackets are expensive. If you go without one, just keep in mind that your layers will hold water, get heavy, and drag you down so less is more in that case!

Do you live in a place where you ride in the wet regularly? It might be worth adding waterproof shorts or pants, shoes, and gloves to your gear closet to keep you more comfortable.

Hacks:

2. Keep it clear

Many trail helmets nowadays have visors that will shield some of the rain from hitting your glasses (we love Rudy Project’s Protera helmet). Pack a sunglasses wipe and try riding without them for the climb to keep them fog- and rain-free saving the best visibility for when you need it most – the way down. Anti-fog products like Rain-X work wonders if you’re struggling to keep the steam and fog at bay, but it usually clears up when you get moving and have some air flow.

Photo: Terri Watts

3. Protect your bike

Fender – A fender is key for keeping most of the slop out of your face and eyes. It also protects your fork seals increasing the time between fork services and improving the life of your shock. Ground Keeper Fenders has some wild designs to accessorize your rig and it’s low-profile enough to install once and run year around.

Lube – Use a thick chain lubricant. A thin chain lube can wash away rather quickly, but a thicker one will stay put, even when coated in mud. They’re usually clearly marked for the conditions they’re designed for so there’s no need for guesswork or in-store sampling!

4. Perfect your bike

Slow down your rebound speed slightly to lower your chance of slipping on obstacles. Lower your tire pressure by by 2 to 3 PSI to increase grip, confidence, and control. The bigger your tire contact patch (or your bike’s footprint) the more it can conform with the trail and obstacles to give you much-needed grip in the slick.

Tire selection – there are two schools of thought:

5. Slow your roll

Riding in slippery conditions will be more challenging so dial back your speed to focus on how your bike handles on the varying dirt conditions and obstacles. You’ll be improving balance, control and bike handling skills, plus those “Oh sh*t” moments will teach you how to recover. You’ll need to adjust your center of gravity to maintain traction which will boost your dry-weather technical riding, too!

Navigate obstacles with your bike upright and ride directly at them at a 90 degree angle (think about making your bike “T” with a root and not “Y”). OR avoid the slip factor altogether with a front wheel lift or bunny hop! Brake a bit early before corners because brake pads will not be as responsive as in dry conditions.

When it comes to puddles or extra soft spots in the trail, ride through them and not around them to avoid widening the trail (and the puddle or hole). If you’re running into them frequently, it’s probably best to avoid that particular trail when it’s wet since there are drainage issues.

6. Peel it off

If you’re not prepared with a towel and change of clothes then it’s going to be a long, dismal drive back home! For an extra-cush experience, keep a changing mat in your car to stand on in the parking lot as you swap your nasty gear for the fresh stuff and use a trash bag or reusable shopping bag to keep the dirty bits contained until you get to a hose.

Photo: Terri Watts

7. Ride, rinse, repeat

Clean your bike as soon as possible after your ride with a soft brush to get the majority of the debris off. Be careful not to spray water directly into any part of your bike that has a bearing (bottom bracket, steering tube, hubs) or your fork because it can damage bearings (even sealed ones). Always lubricate your bike directly after cleaning it. When you’re ready for a deep clean, check out our tips to wash your bike

Same goes for your gear. Be sure to rinse the grime off your kit and throw it straight in the wash or you’ll risk having the dirt set in for a whole new shade of “ochre” or “cocoa” (although those colors are on trend this year!). Hose down your helmet, pads, and shoes. Remove your shoe insoles and stuff them with newspaper to speed up the drying process and minimize the soggy stink that can set in.

Extra Credit

How about #8, sign up for some spring trail maintenance days? This time of year they are hugely important and serve as the best way to educate riders on how to be good trail users and stewards. They will also learn the how to best decide when to ride and when to stay home (or do a trail walk and clean up deadfall, spot drainage problems, and any other light work that is permitted).

An excellent addition from Doug in the comment section

Happy riding! How do you get stoked to ride in less-than-ideal conditions?

4 Responses

  1. How about #8, sign up for some spring trail maintenance days? This time of year they are hugely important and serve as the best way to educate riders on how to be good trail users and stewards. They will also learn the how to best decide when to ride and when to stay home (or do a trail walk and clean up deadfall, spot drainage problems, and any other light work that is permitted).

  2. Every trail and local recreation agency in N.A. asks that riders avoid muddy trails. This set of Ninja Skillz is whacked unless you live in the U.K. If people are getting this muddy riding they need to stay off the trails. Irresponsible. I ride year round and never get this muddy.

  3. I agree. As someone who does help with building and maintaining trails, stay off when wet!! Hit the road instead! Or ride on gravel bike paths. But stay off trails.

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Fundamentals Trail Application - Women's Only

Here’s What We’ll Cover

The specific skills taught in this clinic will depend on available trail features and will vary between locations. Skills covered may include:

  • Rock / Log Step-Ups 
  • Pedal Assisted Front Wheel Lifts
  • Steep Transitions, Roll-Downs
  • Reading trail and line choice
  • Using trail features for maximum flow
  • Turning (Low Speed)
  • Navigating Trail Obstacles
  • Switchbacks – Optimal Line Choice
  • Ratcheting application – how & when 
  • Track stands
  • Braking for Speed 
  • Shifting – Timing + Technique on Technical Terrain
  • Skinnies
  • Off-Camber Trails 
  • Berms 
  • Water crossings 
  • Roots 

The Schedule*

  • 1:15-1:30pm Meet your instructor  | Arrival at course venue + equipment check
  • 1:30 – 1:45pm Fundamentals Skills | Rapid Review 
  • 1:45 – 3:45pm Coached Trail Ride | Sessioning & Skills Application
  • 3:45-4:00pm Review, questions & next steps | #Ridelikeaninja

*Clinic schedule and skills covered may vary according to location and terrain.

Fundamentals Trail Application

Here’s What We’ll Cover

The specific skills taught in this clinic will depend on available trail features and will vary between locations. Skills covered may include:

  • Rock / Log Step-Ups 
  • Pedal Assisted Front Wheel Lifts
  • Steep Transitions, Roll-Downs
  • Reading trail and line choice
  • Using trail features for maximum flow
  • Turning (Low Speed)
  • Navigating Trail Obstacles
  • Switchbacks – Optimal Line Choice
  • Ratcheting application – how & when 
  • Track stands
  • Braking for Speed 
  • Shifting – Timing + Technique on Technical Terrain
  • Skinnies
  • Off-Camber Trails 
  • Berms 
  • Water crossings 
  • Roots 

The Schedule*

  • 1:15-1:30pm Meet your instructor  | Arrival at course venue + equipment check
  • 1:30 – 1:45pm Fundamentals Skills | Rapid Review 
  • 1:45 – 3:45pm Coached Trail Ride | Sessioning & Skills Application
  • 3:45-4:00pm Review, questions & next steps | #Ridelikeaninja

*Clinic schedule and skills covered may vary according to location and terrain.

Ninja Kids clinics

Here’s What We’ll Cover

Some of the skills taught and practiced in the Kids Fundamentals Clinic may include:

  • Ninja (Ready) Position
  • The Riding Rainbow: Body Position
  • How to use your gears
  • Front + Rear Wheel Lifts
  • Safely getting on/off your bike
  • Getting over trail obstacles
  • Turning + Switchbacks
  • Reading the trail: Red Light, Yellow Light, Green Light
  • When and how to brake
  • The 4 Climbing Positions
  • Descending in control
  • How to have fun and be safe!
  • Safety check, bike care

Clinic schedule, time and skills covered may vary according to location and terrain.

2-Day CAMPS

Sample Camp Schedule*

Day 1 (Saturday)

  • 8:45-9:00 Meet your instructor  | Arrival at course venue + equipment check
  • 9:00-9:15 Let’s get started | Introductions, camp overview, bike safety check, bike set-up review
  • 9:15-9:30 Warm-up ride | Head to skills area
  • 9:30-12:15 Mornings skills session | Ready position, bike-body separation, effective braking, fluid shifting, body positioning, wheel lifts
  • 12:15-1:30 Lunch break | BYO
  • 1:30 – 4:00 Intro to jumping | Manuals, bunny hops + how to safely jumping (and land) your mountain bike

Day 2 (Sunday)

  • 8:45-9:00 Meet at trailhead | Gear up for day 2!
  • 9:00-9:15 Review | Brief review of Day 1 skills
  • 9:15-12:00 Morning skills session | High-speed cornering, switchbacks, drops, rock dodge, technical climbing & descending
  • 12:00-1:00  Lunch break | BYO
  • 1:00-3:45 Trail ride + skills application | Put those skills to work!
  • 3:45-4:00 Review, questions & next steps | #Ridelikeaninja

 

*Clinic schedule and skills covered may vary according to location and terrain.

After camp, you will see an immediate improvement in your riding and a boost in confidence on technical trails. You will be able to tackle rougher terrain and corners with greater control and flow through singletrack, switchbacks, and berms with more speed and efficiency.

Jumping Mini-Clinics

Here’s What We’ll Cover

Some of the skills taught and practiced in the Jumping Mini-Clinic may include:

  • Wheel lift Review
  • Bunny hops
  • Jumping body positioning
  • Anatomy of a jump
  • Speed vs. compression | How and when?
  • Landing with precision
  • Let’s get jumping! | Jump progressions

The Schedule*

Please note, clinics may vary according to location and terrain.

  • 1:30-1:45  Meet your instructor | Arrival at course venue + equipment check
  • 1:45-2:00 Let’s get started | Introductions
  • 2:00 – 2:30  Intro to jumping | Wheel lifts, manual, bunny hop
  • 2:30 – 3:00 Reading the jump | Anatomy of a jump, speed vs compression, landings
  • 3:00 – 3:45 Let’s jump! | Jumping progressions on table tops
  • 3:45-4:00 Review and next steps | #ridelikeaninja

 

*Clinic schedule and skills covered may vary according to location and terrain.

Intermediate / advanced clincs

Here’s What We’ll Cover

Some of the skills taught and practiced in the Intermediate/Advanced clinic may include:

  • Negotiating trail obstacles (i.e. rock gardens, roots, logs)
  • Steep transitions
  • Drops
  • High speed cornering
  • Technical climbing
  • Technical descending
  • Advanced braking
  • Reading the trail
  • Introduction to energy management & flow
  • Pumping for speed & air
  • Technical Switchbacks (where available)
  • Ratcheting & Trackstands
  • Visualization

The Schedule*

  • 8:45-9:00 Meet your instructor  | Arrival at course venue + equipment check
  • 9:00-9:15 Let’s get started | Introductions
  • 9:15-9:45 Accelerated review of Fundamentals | With intermediate+advanced progressions
  • 9:45-12:00 Morning skills session | High-speed cornering, Switchbacks, drops, rock dodge, technical climbing & descending
  • 12:00-1:00  Lunch break | BYO
  • 1:00-3:45 Trail ride + skills application | Put those skills to work!
  • 3:45-4:00 Review, questions & next steps | #Ridelikeaninja

*Clinic schedule and skills covered may vary according to location and terrain.

WOMEN'S ONLY Fundamentals Combo

Here’s What We’ll Cover

The specific skills taught in this clinic will depend on available trail features and will vary between locations. Skills covered may include:

  • The Ready Position
  • Bike/Body Separation
  • Intro to Steep Transitions
  • Effective Braking
  • Braking for speed
  • Wheels lifts – Step-Ups
  • Shifting, Timing & Cadence
  • Negotiating trail obstacles
  • Turning / Switchbacks
  • Climbing + Descending
  • Dismounting
  • Mind skills
  • Steep Transitions, Roll-Downs
  • Reading trail and line choice
  • Using trail features for flow
  • Turning (Low Speed)
  • Ratcheting – how & when 
  • Track stands
  • Skinnies
  • Off-Camber Trails
  • Berms
  • Water crossings
  • Roots

The Schedule*

  • 8:45-9:00  Meet your instructor  | Arrival at course venue + equipment check
  • 9:00-9:15 Let’s get started | Introductions
  • 9:15am – 11:15 Skills & drills | Learn, learn, learn
  • 11:15am – 12:15 Take it to the trail | Apply what you’ve learned
  • 12:15 – 1:30pm Lunch Break | Rest & Refuel
  • 1:30 – 1:45pm Fundamentals Skills | Rapid Review 
  • 1:45 – 3:45pm Coached Trail Ride | Sessioning & Skills Application
  • 3:45-4:00pm Review, questions & next steps | #Ridelikeaninja

*Clinic schedule and skills covered may vary according to location and terrain.

Co-ed Fundamentals Combo

Here’s What We’ll Cover

The specific skills taught in this clinic will depend on available trail features and will vary between locations. Skills covered may include:

  • The Ready Position
  • Bike/Body Separation
  • Intro to Steep Transitions
  • Effective Braking
  • Braking for speed
  • Wheels lifts – Step-Ups
  • Shifting, Timing & Cadence
  • Negotiating trail obstacles
  • Turning / Switchbacks
  • Climbing + Descending
  • Dismounting
  • Mind skills
  • Steep Transitions, Roll-Downs
  • Reading trail and line choice
  • Using trail features for flow
  • Turning (Low Speed)
  • Ratcheting – how & when 
  • Track stands
  • Skinnies
  • Off-Camber Trails
  • Berms
  • Water crossings
  • Roots

The Schedule*

  • 8:45-9:00  Meet your instructor  | Arrival at course venue + equipment check
  • 9:00-9:15 Let’s get started | Introductions
  • 9:15am – 11:15 Skills & drills | Learn, learn, learn
  • 11:15am – 12:15 Take it to the trail | Apply what you’ve learned
  • 12:15 – 1:30pm Lunch Break | Rest & Refuel
  • 1:30 – 1:45pm Fundamentals Skills | Rapid Review 
  • 1:45 – 3:45pm Coached Trail Ride | Sessioning & Skills Application
  • 3:45-4:00pm Review, questions & next steps | #Ridelikeaninja

*Clinic schedule and skills covered may vary according to location and terrain.

Ninja MTB Logo

Women's Only Fundamentals Clinics

Level 1 - Here’s What We’ll Cover

Some of the skills taught and practiced in the Women’s Only Fundamentals Clinic may include:

  • The Ready Position
  • Bike/Body separation
  • Intro to Steep Transitions
  • Effective braking
  • Wheels lifts
  • Shifting + cadence
  • Negotiating trail obstacles
  • Turning / Switchbacks
  • Climbing + Descending
  • Dismounting
  • Mind skills

The Schedule*

  • 8:45-9:00  Meet your instructor  | Arrival at course venue + equipment check
  • 9:00-9:15 Let’s get started | Introductions
  • 9:15am – 11:15 Skills & drills | Learn, learn, learn
  • 11:15am – 12:00 Take it to the trail | Apply what you’ve learned
  • 12:00-12:15 Review and next steps | #ridelikeaninja
 

*Clinic schedule and skills covered may vary according to location and terrain.

Ninja MTB Logo

Co-ed Fundamentals Clinics

Level 1 - Here’s What We’ll Cover

Some of the skills taught and practiced in the Fundamentals Clinic may include:

  • The Ready Position
  • Bike/Body separation
  • Intro to Steep Transitions
  • Effective braking
  • Wheels lifts
  • Shifting + cadence
  • Negotiating trail obstacles
  • Turning / Switchbacks
  • Climbing + Descending
  • Dismounting
  • Mind skills

The Schedule*

  • 8:45-9:00  Meet your instructor  | Arrival at course venue + equipment check
  • 9:00-9:15 Let’s get started | Introductions
  • 9:15am – 11:15 Skills & drills | Learn, learn, learn
  • 11:15am – 12:00 Take it to the trail | Apply what you’ve learned
  • 12:00-12:15 Review and next steps | #ridelikeaninja
 

*Clinic schedule and skills covered may vary according to location and terrain.

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