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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
So last winter I bought a CX bike and have been riding trails a lot, mostly solo. I thought I was doing pretty well but additional information has shown that I really suck at it.

Last month I went on a ride with a Euro pro cx rider and the stuff I saw him ride over, fast, really blew my mind. But I figured he's a pro, off course he's great at it.

Then this past weekend I went on a ride with a bunch of normal dudes and learned they ride over the same stuff (dried out river bed type trails) that I thought unrideable by normal people.

The difference between me and them is they have been doing this type of riding since they were young. I just started a while ago.

I know I'll get a little better with practice but it's hard to imagine actually riding like I've seen others do.

Is this type of riding something you need to start young to be any good or can a middle age person actually get it with practice. I can't help but thinking of my hockey playing days where I could see that no matter how talented an athlete someone was they would never be good if they didn't start young.
 

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Discussion Starter · #2 ·
.....and I know it depends on the person. The reason I'm finding this very humbling and think it might have to do with age is that historically I've always learned quick and been very good at the coordination aspect of any sport I've tried.
 

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you'll get there. 10,000 repetitions will make you an expert
 

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You can definitely improve, and riding with people who are better than you is the best way of improving, because they are modeling the techniques right in front of you. The caveat is that you can get sucked into riding sections too fast for your skill level and eff yourself up.

You can probably already identify skills that you lack. For example, bunnyhopping? Well, then you have something to work on. Don't rush the progression, just focus on getting a little better each time.

You probably won't become some pro shredder, but getting better will make riding the trails more fun and satisfying.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
You can probably already identify skills that you lack. For example, bunnyhopping?
One would think. But ID'ing where I have issues compared to the skilled guys is a work in progress. It's like they have mountain bikes and I have a road race bike with 19mm tires. But that of course is not the case. Next time maybe I'll ask someone to watch me and tell me what my problem is.

I'm sure a lot has to do with my being timid (or smart depending how you look at it) and I am better than a lot of people I've ridden with so it might be a bit early to strive for what some of these guys do....but still, tons of room for improvement for me for sure. I think getting some confidence and loosening up a bit will help if I can manage to do that.

Thanks for the response.
 

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I'm sort of in the same boat too... taking on the trails and CX bike at a much older age without much cycling experience and skill on the handling side.

I do think that it's a bit harder as I'm older. I'm not a teenager where my brain is still developing and allowing me to take more risk than I should. It seems to hurt much more when I fall, and I take much longer to recover... hence I'm much more hesitant. Barreling down uneven ground and steep slopes takes a lot of commitment as well as skill.

I've decided for myself to take it slow. Work on one thing at a time and it will develop. Eventually you will get more comfortable. However, with a CX bike, you will always be more limited than a full suspension mountain bike.
 

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I'm going to offer some advice that may or may not be looked at as logical by many here but I'd spend some time on a mountain bike too. Reason for this is that you'll be more confident as you learn the nuances of weight shifts and picking lines. You'll progress and get faster and faster and that will translate so well when you ride those same trails on the CX rig. I started as a roadie and gradually found my way into xc mtb and eventually even DH and bmx (as 30's something adult on those last two). The strength gained on the road and skills gained on the mtb has helped me find success racing CX and just as importantly, has helped me have a blast riding trails fast. Just a thought but the mtb is a great way to develop the skills you'll fine tune once you are on the CX.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
NOW, you're thinkin! I ran 40mm WTB Nano's through the winter and into the spring gravel season and guess what, I just kept riding them until fall race season. We have one UCI race coming up and after that, the 40's are going right back on. I just like everything about them better. Better on trail, better on the road and gravel...just better! I may actually go to the 40c Nano in front and the 37c Riddler in back (FYI, the Riddler comes in a 45c too!!!!) Run them tubeless and I think you'll find a whole new love for your CX rig on the trail!
 

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Unless you are doing the UCI race, which doesn't seem like you would be, you don't need to worry about 33 size tires. If you are doing at category race that same day your race is not UCI sanctioned. Just an FYI.
 

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One would think. But ID'ing where I have issues compared to the skilled guys is a work in progress. It's like they have mountain bikes and I have a road race bike with 19mm tires. But that of course is not the case. Next time maybe I'll ask someone to watch me and tell me what my problem is.

I'm sure a lot has to do with my being timid (or smart depending how you look at it) and I am better than a lot of people I've ridden with so it might be a bit early to strive for what some of these guys do....but still, tons of room for improvement for me for sure. I think getting some confidence and loosening up a bit will help if I can manage to do that.
I'm still pretty much solo on MTB trails (hardtail and CX bike), but every time I ride with someone more experienced than I am, I try to take the opportunity to ride behind them, following their lines, and watching position over the bike. And avoiding the brakes. "Timid" can be my thing, but watching someone not wreck without brakes can inspire more confidence in handling.

I'd say try to get the smoothest, most instinctual, rider up front, he possibly doesn't intellectually know what he's doing differently, and get someone who had to learn the skills as a young adult to follow you if you want verbal feed back on where you got gapped.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
I'm starting to get a lot better but still have plenty to go. Just being more confident and having a better feel for what type of surface I can just blast though vs what really does require some specific action is I think where most of the improvement is coming from. I think I tent to shift my weight back more too at certain times so the front wheel rolls over stuff easier. I didn't set out to start doing that, just sort of evolved into it, and it seems to help in certain circumstances.

One things is still for certain. Riding trails is a heck of a lot of fun.
 
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