I ran across an interesting article that made me think about what it was like when I took up both mountain biking and road cycling. Here are some points of advice I wish I had heard early on:
You won’t love every trail or road. Simply put, you need to find the places you enjoy riding. On a mountain bike I love flowing single track through the forest. I avoid highly technical rocky trails. There are many urban roads I avoid which others use regularly. Never feel pressure to ride a route when you’re not at ease.
Don’t do what makes you feel uncomfortable. You may feel the need to walk certain trails – walk them. I had to do this on my last trip with my son, avoiding steep rocky descents with a sharp drop on one side. On the road, you may not like having cars to your left at 35 – 45 mph. Avoid those roads. Ride your ride.
Riding with someone better than you. This is a great way to improve your skill and confidence. The article made a great point, if a more highly skilled or much faster rider asks you to join them, accept the invitation. They wouldn’t ask if they didn’t want you to go with them. If they know you’re starting out, don’t worry about slowing them down.
You don’t have to apologize for your inexperience or speed. Everyone started riding without experience, they have been there. Don’t feel the need to apologize; no one needs to hear it from you. Enjoy the experience. However, where speed groups are available, get connected to a group best suited for you and work up from there.