I saw a post from our local mountain bike club, of which I am a member, and I thought I would pass it along and share my thoughts. The story was from a Singletracks.com post about taking beginners mountain biking.
Overland Mountain bike Club , this is our local club, does a great job making new members feel welcome and offers learn to mountain bike rides fairly often. They do a ton of other stuff also so if you are a local rider here in Northern Colorado I would encourage you to join.
Anyway the video post is about a guide shop on the coast that did a poor job matching a rider with terrain. It goes on to chatting on how to make the experience of mountain biking for beginners a fun time.The goal is obviously to get people out and having fun.
We offer guided mountain bike day tours year round and I think we do a pretty good job sharing the fun with both beginners and advanced folks alike. The key's to a good ride are pretty straightforward
Listen to the people you are taking riding. Find out from the m what they have ridden. If they liked it or not and so forth. It helps to also know if they have had any bad experiences on a mountain bike. This all helps you fine tune the trails and pace of the ride you are going to do. It also helps to identify what extra levels of coaching or instruction will be helpful.
Make sure gear fits and functions correctly. It is really important to fit and educate riders on the gear and how to use it correctly. When you are doing something new it can be uncomfortable so learning about your equipment and the best way to use it can really help build confidence. If a bike does not fit properly it will hold someone back from a great experience.
We match each ride with our guests to make sure they have the best day possible. It is important to listen, see rule 1, and take people on a trail that will be a success. For some people this is gravel forest track while others want to have steep technical rides. Many of our guests have gone home and bought mountain bikes and continued riding off-road. Others have come on a trip and taken their riding to the next level because we carefully challenged and shared with them some techniques to improve their riding and enjoyment.
it is about them not us. As the guide or friend taking folks out it should be about them and not you. Part of the greatness of mountain biking is seeing new people "get it" and have a blast. When you come on our rides we are there for you not ourselves. While we are lucky and get to ride for work on tours we ride the trails best for you not always for us.
Lead ride. For most new riders the problem is tension and not knowing what is coming up next. This can be confounded by trying to ride fast enough to keep up. When guiding we keep our groups small and have two guides with larger groups. The lead guide will call out locations that are technical in nature and may require special attention. We also walk our guests through the trail ahead of time so they know what to expect. We set a safe pace and gauge it over the first short bit to make sure it is right for everyone.
Hydrate. We stop many times over the ride to encourage folks to drink water. This helps keep everything steady so your body and mind can focus on the trail.
Have fun. Make sure that everyone is having a good time. That is the point after all. Getting outside and doing a sport like mountain biking, hiking, running and so forth is supposed to be fun! For true beginners pick trails that have a "way out". Northing is worse than being uncomfortable and not having an option. All of our beginner rides have spots to hope off the trail and take a gravel road or at a minimum a way to take a break and regain our confidence.
Take folks to a skills practice area. Going back to our local club, they have done a great job building and managing a number of places to practice balance and gain confidence.
Take a guided tour from a company or friend you trust. We hope that you consider us for this but there are a lot of great people in the mountain bike industry that will help out. Our tours run all the time and we will make sure you love it. We also reward you with beer so you can laugh and celebrate your adventure.
Regardless of how you get onto a mountain bike I think you will love it. Along with guiding for work Mountain biking is one of my ways to forget about everything else and focus on the trail ahead!