My First Mountain Bike Lesson

Hey Stratton! My name is Mariah. I grew up snowboarding at Stratton Mountain and have always been curious about Downhill Mountain Biking. Being a beginner can be daunting, which is why I want to take you through my experience as I learn a new sport and hopefully can persuade you to get out on the trails and try it yourself so that you too can share the fun experience that I had.

Stratton offers a first-timer mountain bike lesson which made me feel more comfortable jumping into things. From Bike Instructors to Lift Operators, and everyone in between, the whole crew is there to support and help you gain confidence in the Stratton Bike Park. 

Come along with me as I navigate and chase the thrill of Mountain Biking as a first timer!

I wasn’t sure what to wear…

I wasn’t sure what exactly to wear on my first day, so I called up the bike shop and the crew gave me some helpful advice on what to wear and bring for my first day.

For clothes, it was recommended to wear athletic shorts or pants as well as an athletic top whether that’s short sleeve or long sleeve depending on the temperature. For shoes, a flat skate shoe was recommended. Mountain biking shoes are not always needed especially if it is your first go. I also brought my snowboarding goggles to protect my eyes from dirt and rocks.

I decided to go with light breathable hiking pants with a cinched bottom, and an athletic short-sleeved top. It was chilly in the morning, so I started my day with a windbreaker on. For my shoes, I wore Vans, as they are flatter shoes with good grip for the pedals. Overall, I was happy and comfortable with everything I wore. Other than that, I was provided with everything I needed to go mountain biking at the bike shop, including a helmet, knee pads and elbow pads. 

I felt welcomed as soon as I walked into the bike shop. I was guided to a computer first to fill out my basic information. Then I was directed to the next room where I met my instructor Jeff. Jeff gave me a helmet, knee and elbow pads, as well as an overview of the bike. From disc breaks to gear changes and the dropper post, even though I’ve ridden a bike before, it was good to get in-depth information about the Trek mountain bike I was riding. These bikes are pretty next level when it comes to technology, and a lot different than the style of bike in my garage. 

As I was putting my gear on, I was asked if I was excited. Though I was excited, I mentioned I was also nervous. The team reassured me that the nerves were good and that we’d take it slow to make sure I was comfortable and confident before hitting the lifts and trails. I felt super supported by the team as they boosted my confidence and calmed my nerves. 

My Instructor, Jeff demonstrated our “ready position”

Mountain Bike Lesson

To kick off the lesson, my instructor took me to the Learning Area which is a flat area with a slight downhill slope to run over the basics of the bike and body positioning. We talked about stances, in terms of how you stand on the bike and where to place my hands, feet set even on the pedals and fingers on the brakes. He then went on to give me an example while riding so I could see it in real-time. He went first, then I went, and then he slightly adjusted my stance and I immediately felt more comfortable on the bike. We went through this a few times to make sure I felt in control and comfortable. It was settling to get a feel of the bike before hitting the trails. 

Getting my “ready position” dialed in

It was time to head up the lift. I was super excited to get on the trails and start mountain biking. I was explained how to load my bike, but the lift operators were there to help out and guide me in the right direction. As we got to the top, Jeff explained that the Lift Operators would unload your bikes for you as you step off the chair and then pick it up from the bike rack at the top terminal. 

Once we were off the lift, we rolled our bikes down the ramp and went over the basics one more time: wide stance, foot placements and sitting back on the bike. Jeff then clearly stated where we would stop on the trail so that he could go over the terrain we would hit along the way.  

It was time to start going downhill… I was terrified yet so excited. As I went down I was getting comfortable with my position on the bike. I realized I like to have my left foot forward on the pedals, though this can be different for everyone. 

We stopped right before the first berm I would hit. Jeff went first and showed me how to do it so I could see an example. I went slow to feel it out, as I tried to follow his line through the berm. It was fun and the excitement once I got through to the end was real. After the first berm, we stopped just before we hit the start of Trail Forest One to go over a few things I would be seeing and riding. 

Jeff was in front of me the whole time keeping a steady slow pace as I followed, which was extremely helpful. As we were riding, he was talking to me and guiding me through the features of the trail, making sure I was in the correct stance, while peeping over his shoulder ofter to make sure I was close behind. 

Jeff was incredibly patient as I asked a million questions while riding. He was well-spoken and detail oriented as he answered each question I had. I wanted to make sure I was asking questions so I was doing everything properly.

Once our lesson ended, I was super pumped because I wanted to go again, and that’s always a good sign. As a first-time mountain biking, I MUST recommend a beginner lesson if you too would like to give mountain biking a try. Having a helping hand made me more confident and supported! To add to this, the instructors at Stratton are awesome!

Overall, my experience as a beginner mountain biker was awesome! I can see why people love this sport. With a mix of adrenaline and fun, it’s addicting in the best way possible. I’ve learned that the community surrounding mountain biking is extremely welcoming and knowledgeable. Though this is a fast-paced sport to get into and may be daunting, just remember even the pros or your instructor started from zero. Starting is the hardest part, but I am so glad I did! 

When I went back to the bike shop to return my bike, one of the employees informed me about the Women’s Mountain Bike Camp happening at Stratton on June 15 and 16. I will definitely be attending the camp because they welcome all riding levels and the best part is that I (and you) will be hanging out with other women who are also passionate about mountain biking. I know I can learn so much more, so why wouldn’t I, and more importantly, why wouldn’t you? 

Finished My Day with Some Lunch

After my lesson, I sure worked up an appetite! I saw Basecamp was open and it had a whole new look to it. Their menu looked fresh and light, which is exactly what I wanted on this warm summer day. I decided to go with the Acai Bowl! There were so many yummy toppings I had them add, and it was a great way to end my day.

Check out our post on Instagram and Facebook to see my POV of the mountain bike lesson!