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

By Hannah Levine

Thinking about getting into mountain biking, but coming up with all sorts of reasons why you can’t?  Or maybe you have a friend that is full of excuses for why they don’t want to try mountain biking? Here are 5 of the most common excuses (and my responses). 

1. That bike costs how much!? 

Yes, if I’m being honest, my mountain bike costs more than my car. But wait, hear me out! You don’t need to take out a loan and you don’t need to have a top end (or top price) bike to get started.

I recommend first time bike buyers start by investing in a quality bike frame with decent components and over time, upgrade to better components (wheels, tires, rotors, brakes). Or, consider buying a used bike.  If you’re totally new to riding, demo a bike from your local shop to figure out what you do and don’t like before dropping the cash. You can find more Ninja tips on finding the right bike here

2. I’m too out of shape.  I can’t breathe! 

Mountain biking is an entirely unique type of cardiovascular activity and it will take time for your body to adjust.  Don’t worry – we’ve all been there and it gets easier! People of any fitness level can start mountain biking (really) and with a bit of patience and consistency, you’ll be surprised how quickly you’re pedaling up the mountain and holding down a conversation.  Check your ego at the parking lot and give yourself permission to take it slow, rest when you need to, and push again when you feel up to it. 

I recommend finding a short local trail that you can ride consistently.  By riding the same stretch of trail, you can track your progress and celebrate your improvements!

 

*Dramatic reenactment. No Ninjas were injured in the making of this photo.

3. I’m going to get hurt. Mountain biking is dangerous! 

You don’t need to be throwing yourself down a rocky chute when you first start mountain biking. Mountain biking does NOT have to be scary! The best way to avoid injury? Take a skills clinic and ride within your limits. If you are riding with good form and a solid foundation of skills, you can gradually build up to more technical terrain without hurting yourself. 

If you try to learn on your own without a good understanding of those foundational skills – How do my brakes work?  What is the proper body positioning? Should I be seated or standing on the bike? How do I get over that stick on the trail? – you can easily get yourself in trouble. Working with a certified mountain bike instructor will help you to gain an understanding of these foundational skills, help you establish your riding limits and avoid unnecessary injuries. 

4. I have no one to ride with!

There are so many easy solutions to this one. Here are a few:

     

      • Show up to a Ninja skills clinic and make some new riding friends!

      • Join a local trail advocacy organization, riding club or team.

    5. Mountain biking takes too much time.

    You don’t have to be doing long, epic trail rides to get into mountain biking and you don’t have to ride 6 days a week to call yourself a mountain biker. Set a goal to ride your bike twice a week – one short weekday ride and one long(er) weekend ride. 

    Feeling good with 2 rides per week? Great, now start building in a weekday skills session in your driveway (checkout these 8 Moves to Master Anywhere) and/or hit the gym for a little strength training to give your pedal stroke more power!

     


     

    Before long your love for mountain biking will blossom and you’ll quit your job, move into a van and start posting your ride videos to youtube!  …or maybe you’ll just find it easy to make time for riding when it’s something that brings you joy.

    Trying something new can be intimidating and changing up your routine is never easy, but it can be both fun and rewarding.  Give yourself a chance to feel like a kid again, throw your excuses out the window, and hit the trail!  

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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.