Having the right mentality during a ride can be just as important as maneuvering the bike itself. Whether you are just getting into the sport or are a seasoned rider, you have likely come to realize how mountain biking is just as mental as it is physical. Remembering a few key tips while out on the trail can help keep you in the right mindset and allow for a good time!

Set goals – There are a multitude of reasons to ride. Approaching a single ride with a small goal in mind is a great idea. You might be interested in a social and relaxing ride or have a skill in mind that you want to work on. Regardless of your motivation to be out on the trail, it always feels good to walk away from a ride feeling like you gained something valuable from the time you spent being active. Long-term goals can be beneficial as well. You might have a trail that you hope to ride confidently by the end of the year, or a race that you want to participate in. Looking forward to reaching goals can drive your motivation and boost your passion for the sport.

Kate Emmons wearing the Florence jersey
Photo: Steph Glock

Be patient with yourself – It can be all too easy to fall into the trap of feeling frustrated while riding. There are countless skills to work on with a sport like this, and you should be sure to give yourself enough credit. Berms, bridges, roots, rock features, skinnies, the list goes on. It does not matter if it takes one day or one year to accomplish a goal as progression is relative to each rider. Also, each step in any direction should be celebrated as experimentation is essential to learning. Know that some days may feel difficult while other days you may even surprise yourself.

Boost your confidence – A little positive self-talk can go a long way. It is common for feelings of doubt or fear to sneak in during a ride, but that does not mean they can’t be pushed aside with some practice. For instance, tackling a new feature can be exciting yet nerve-wracking at the same time. You might try envisioning yourself flowing through the motions and successfully completing the obstacle, or talk yourself through how and why you will succeed just before stepping on the pedals. Remember that you took the initiative to get on the trail, everything that follows is a bonus.

Remember why you ride – At the end of the day, it is always important to remember why you choose to get on your bike in the first place. We can get caught up placing too much focus on our progression or effort, and forget to enjoy ourselves. Just being immersed in the outdoors is great way to relieve stress and have fun. Riding with friends or others in your community can also be extremely rewarding. You might enjoy the process of fine-tuning your bike to match your riding style, or pleasure may show up as you’re winding through the woods on open trail. The ultimate goal should be to have fun on your bike!

For the unique sport that it is, mountain biking has the ability to challenge our way of thinking. It’s up to us as individuals to be mindful of what motivates us to get out there. Regardless of your reason for being on the bike, allow yourself to feel good while riding and the rest will fall into place!

Written by Kaden Ambassador Kate Emmons