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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jul 2006
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    Looking at all the love there that's sleeping
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    REI "classes" - worth it?

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    Hi there.
    I just got a flyer from REI offering various outdoor classes and outings with a training theme to them -- Learn camping skills, GPS navigation, and such.
    They have a few beginner and intermediate mountainbiking outings coming up soon. I was thinking of taking one as a "refresher" course. I haven't been on my bike in over a year, and I stink majorly at it. I know my bike is 10 times better than I am a rider, and I'd like to be able to ride it with more confidence again. I did fine on my hardtail, but now I have a fully that I just don't ride enough to be familiar with.
    Has anyone taken any of these training classes? Are they worth it?
    Thanks for any input.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jan 2006
    Location
    San Francisco, CA
    Posts
    1,080
    I'm a big advocate of taking classes. Okay, so I coach clinics for a living -- I'm a bit biased. But I've also participated in a dozen cycling clinics myself! I believe we all have a little something to learn (some more than others). And if you're looking for a refresher, you're bound to remember a lot of things you've forgotten over the years.

    REI teaches good classes. Our local REIs use many of the area coaches in addition to their trained staff. I've taught at REI.

    Just make sure to read the description and pick a class that sounds like what you want to do. If you've got questions, call the store, tell them about you, and see what they suggest.

    And have fun!

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Oct 2004
    Location
    Sacramento, CA
    Posts
    747
    I just took both a beginning road biking class and a beginning mountain biking class from REI, and I loved them both although the road biking class was not really very useful (except that I used one of their bikes and got to see what it felt like to actually be able to reach the hoods). I took the women-only classes, and we had the same instructors for both, and they were great. They also both expressed the opinion that the women-only classes are superior in every way -- they said the skill levels were more consistent, and not necessarily lower -- the women who took the mixed classes, often with a male partner, had lower skill levels than the women who took the women-only classes. Weird, huh?

    Anyway, the problem with the road biking class, which the instructors acknowledged when I talked to them about it the following week, is that there were some people who were taking that class because they didn't know how to ride a bike at all, or had not been on a bike in 40 years, period. So we had skill levels all over the place, and the class wound up being less useful than it could have been ... but I still loved it, just because I really liked the instructors, and we had a great group of women, and it was a lot of fun. I would not pay $50 to do it again, but it did not feel like a total waste of time.

    The mountain biking class attracted a much younger group, and all but one person had done a lot of riding, just not necessarily mountain biking. That class was excellent in almost every respect. We spent about two hours on skills drills and bike fitting, and then two hours on some singletrack that was hard enough that we all had to walk some sections. With just that one four-hour class I have a night and day difference in my skills ... my husband is really impressed. I will probably take the beginner class a second time (they do different trails, and this was their suggestion) and then take the intermediate class in the spring.

    The only downside I saw to the mountain biking class is that there were only two instructors, and the one who led the group went a little too fast. We had two people who had some singletrack experience, and the three of them wound up way up ahead, and then the people who needed more help were in the back, and so the rest of us were often on the trail all by ourselves without any coaching. We did fine and had a good time, but I wound up hanging back a little at the end so I could get the benefit of advice from the second instructor.

    If those classes were typical, I would say that the beginning road biking class would be most useful to anyone who has ridden a hybrid or a comfort bike but never ridden an actual road bike, whereas the beginning mountain biking class would be useful to anyone who either hasn't ridden any singletrack or has ridden singletrack and had no fun at all because they didn't have the basic skills. The mountain biking class was much more challenging and less of a "here is how you shift, here is how you get on the bike" sort of deal.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jul 2006
    Location
    Looking at all the love there that's sleeping
    Posts
    4,172
    Thanks for the replies!
    Unfortunately, I missed the MTB for Women class - it was on Oct 21st.
    Bummer.
    There's an intro class on November 26th (I may be in VT for the holiday for that one, however) and an intermediate class on Nov 12th and Feb 3rd.)
    I do have the basics of mtb down (and I'm hoping to hook up with a "Ride Like A Girl" ride with the local mtb'ing group on Nov 5th), so I may aim for the intermediate class.
    These sound like fun!

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Oct 2004
    Location
    Sacramento, CA
    Posts
    747
    Let me know how the intermediate course is. They didn't have intermediate courses here in Sacramento this year, but they are adding them in the spring, and the women's classes will have the same two instructors so I am hoping to take the intermediate MB class eventually.

    There will probably be a lot of regional variance because it seems like REI leaves most of the planning up to the instructors. Which could be good or bad.

 

 

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