Otterman speaks... (2003-2007)
Weblog about cycling, macintosh, natural history and life in Singapore.
Otterman - Blog Home

Archives - Blog's RSS - Comments RSS - LJ - Email me - All my blogs - About me: 2004 - 2002

Make a permalink or URL tiny:
Blog email subscription

Enter your email address to receive the previous day's posts:


Mac and the Internet - NUS
Cycling - Life in Singapore - Meow
Singapore Naturalist - Mangroves
Science - World - Museum
Movies - Literature - Travel

Biology module blogs:
Biodiversity (Year 1)
Ecology (Year 3)
Structure & Function (Year 3)
Marine Biology (Year 4)
Natural History Blogs:
The Biology Refugia
Raffles Museum Toddycats
Intl Coastal Cleanup Singapore
Labrador Park
Pulau Ubin Stories
Pulau Hantu
Cycling in Singapore
Mac Meetup Singapore
Aboard the Götheborg
Otterman Projects
Zendogs/Wheels are Turning
Hopea sangal

Raffles Museum Toddycats!

Pedal Ubin!
Pasir Panjang Heritage
Raffles Museum Internship
MR-BT Briskwalkers

Mac Meetups

Some of my kakis

Kakis at home
Ad & Jen
Inertia is a Sin
Halfway between the gutter and the stars
Lost in the Jungle
Dawn, Cat Welfare
Compulsive Maniac
Deadpoet's Cave
Rambling Librarian
Cooler Insights
Pencil Shavings
Ling the Merciless
Philosophize Me Jelly
Dewi A

Kakis overseas
Alvin - Beijing, China:
* Alvin's spiel
Kevin - Buffalo, NY:
Theory is the Reason
Bonny - HCMC, Vietnam:
Jac - London, UK:
Dogged Wanderings
Jasmin - NY, NY:
The Worsted Witch
Marcus - Shanghai, China:
You only live once
Tse-Lynn - Wilmington, NC:
Musings of a barefoot traveller
Jani - Newcastle, UK:
Salted & Fried

Seow Hwa's
The Ice Cream Gallery

Local reads
Commentary Singapore
Singapore Surf

Museum Roundtable
Science Daily
Environmental News Network
National Geographic News
New Scientist news
Nature News
Google News
Resource Shelf
The Unofficial Apple Weblog
Boing Boing
The Daily Show
This is a Flickr badge showing photos in a set called My Handphone Photos. Make your own badge here.

Made on a Mac with
Claris Home Page 3.0.
Blog engine: Samizdat,
based on PHPosxom,
based on Blosxom.
Updated with TextWrangler.

Creative Commons License
© N. Sivasothi, 2003
This work is licensed under a
Creative Commons License.

Subscribe with Bloglines

Otterman speaks...

Cycling, macintosh, natural history and life in Singapore - Archives

List of Categories : travel * museum * cycling * Singapore Naturalist * science * kakis * mangroves * movies * mac and the internet * meow * NUS * life in Singapore * lit * world *

Sat 11 Sep 2004

Advice to newbie MTB riders

Category : cycling

Having ridden a little on local trails but not very much, here are some thoughts for newbie mountain bike cyclists, seeing that the next SMURF clinic is around the corner, on 19 Sep 2004.

SMURF Clinics - a foundation

SMURF clinics are a necessity. They aren't about how to ride a bike, so you have to learn to balance on a bike, change gears and brake reasonably well first. Get help from a friend for this.

The clinics provide a proper foundation which casual instruction does not achieve since it is guided by a syllabus. Ad hoc instruction on the trail by friends tends to respond to challenges of a specific trail. Without a lesson plan, familiarity leads to overlooking significant issues such as lowering seat posts when going into trails. I found out only much later and it was very helpful when I did!

Having advised newbies myself, I found this worked well - try something easy like general trails in Ubin, then to the SMURF clinics, and finally rides with instruction by friends at T15. The clinic provides a useful foundation which were upgraded later on other trails.

One way to pay instructors who provide these free clinics is to help them out at their cycling events or during the next round of clinics. SMURF clinics are run by "Uncle Nik" [Ho] and friends.

On mental preparation and confidence

When I first tried out trails, two experienced friends, Athena and Chi provided instruction and demonstration for specific (easier) trials at Sentosa. I listened, watched and followed and so it was relatively easy there.

On another occasion, Airani and I were late, rushed down meet the gang as they emerged at BT, did not realise we were doing the BT trail that day but followed them in and kept up (our first taste of BT as well). We had simply been too hasty, were not focused so both crashed at easy bits, mind you! My crash was mild (I tend to bounce off the ground) but Airani cracked a bone and her wrist was in a cast for a few weeks.

I realise for myself at least, the ability of both rider and bike outweighed confidence. When I work at confidence, I have an enjoyable rides free of excessive braking and dismounts.

Knowing your bike and practise

The more I got used to my GT Avalanche 1.0, the better I could estimate its ability and response to terrain. After more than five years on the Champion Du Monde, I am at times still compensating for the wrong bike!

A friend from the clinic I attended, YZ used to frighten me with stories of his spectacular crashes when he first acquired his new bike complete with disc brakes. He has since got used to it and there are thankfully fewer dramatic stories.

Since I did most of my haphazard learning with my heart in my mouth. I tried something else with some newbies - practising basic skills on simple trails and even on flat ground. Something they could also do near their place, on their own. It helped to build familiarity with braking ability, gearing, balance etc., and does wonders for confidence. They later realised a tough trail was simply an amplification of what they had already tried and the principles they learnt help them overcome these.

Riding kakis

On any ride, always go at your own pace. If are the riders are too fast and leave you behind, abandon the ride; its best to have company in case of emergencies. Ride leaders on Wheels Are Turning or DREAM-Escapades

usually indicate the type of ride and if they will wait for newbies. Find out if unsure.

Knowing the trail builds confidence

Don't be disheartened if everyone you are with on a ride seems to zip through a trail and are then are always waiting for you at the next slope. E.g. the T15 slopes. When you get to know a particular route well, you will become familiar with each slopes' incline, distance, corners, dangers etc. Regulars who zoom far ahead have this knowledge and it makes a big difference.

It's just like racing drivers who learn their circuits down to a T!

So learn a particular route well and tackle it regulary; you'll soon find yourself zooming ahead in the easy parts wiothout hesitation. Does wonders for confidence too!

From a post to Wheels Are Turning

Posted at 3:50PM UTC by N. Sivasothi | permalink | , .