We have all been in situations riding with people more experienced than us in some way and people who challenge and push our own limits. Maybe you are stuck at home during this pandemic with your older sister who’s natural talent on the bike tops yours, or maybe your boyfriend is begging you to be a new riding buddy.
I try to seek out these challenges and find people who will push me in different ways. I believe this challenge makes me a better rider and a better person. However, riding with people who are better than you can be mentally tough. I’ve spent a lot of time learning how to make each ride a positive learning experience when I ride with people who have greater skill or fitness levels. Most of the time I train with my guy friends because they are who I live closest to. Sometimes I will get dropped on a climb or struggle on a technical section of trail. I’ve come up with ways to avoid frustration and make each ride with people who challenge me into a positive and fun experience!
Tips for staying positive and having fun when you’re riding with people who are “better” than you:
Communicate before the ride starts - if you know your riding buddy is going faster than you want to on the climbs, agree that you will meet at the top and shred the downhill together.
Don't get discouraged if they clear something that you don't - think of this as an opportunity to learn from them, it means nothing about your skill level. And just wait, later down the trail they'll be learning something from you!
Know that this is an opportunity for you to get better - try to see everything as a positive challenge, you are getting better at something you love. How rad is it to have people to push you?
Go your own pace - give yourself permission to ride your own pace without that sneaky feeling of guilt or failure making an appearance. This happens to me ALL THE TIME and I’ve learned to say “goodbye” to any ego and “hello” to having an enjoyable ride and not overtraining!
Ask for advice - maybe there is a section you struggled with, you want to improve your downhill cornering, or you want to have more confidence in the rock gardens. Ask your buddy! If they’re anyone worth riding with they will be happy to give you a hand. This makes you a better rider, and they’ll likely learn something from helping you, too.
Bring snacks! I think this is self explanatory, nobody wants to be hangry on a ride!