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Mountain Biking School

The mission of the ECP Mountain Biking School is to introduce students to the skills and knowledge necessary to ride mountain bikes on a variety of single-track trails including some technical maneuvers and promote appropriate MTB etiquette.

The ECP Mountain Biking School is an all volunteer program, taught by ECP members with a wide range of backgrounds.  Some instructors are accomplished mountain biking racers while others just like to casually ride in the woods.  We're looking to introduce more people to mountain biking and show you how approachable it can be for beginners!


  • Applications are open.  Click here to apply.

  • Student fitness and skills checkouts will happen while applications are open

  • A prescribed riding fitness routine is provided and highly encouraged, beginning several weeks before the first class for accepted students

  • The School consists of three classroom sessions for discussing and learning basics and three outdoor outings.  Each outing will be part skills training and part trail riding.
  • Schedule - classes and outings will be held weekly throughout July and August (see details below)

  • 1 required textbook (available free online) - Mastering Mountain Bike Skills by Brian Lopes and Lee McCormack

  • Course fee is $80 (begin reading before first class)

  • Membership in the Explorers Club of Pittsburgh is required to apply for the school

  • Riding your own mountain bike or another loaner bike that you can use throughout the school is highly suggested - no cyclocross bikes, downhill bikes, or BMX bikes.  Loaner bikes may available from instructors if needed, but are limited in number and size.


  • Appropriate Gear and Clothing for Mountain Biking

  • Basic trailside maintenance

  • Basic skills to ride trails around Southwestern PA

  • Different types of mountain bikes and disciplines associated with mountain biking

  • Fitness and injury prevention for mountain biking

  • Food and Nutrition

  • Anything else you want to learn about


  • You must be 18 years of age to apply.

  • You must be a member of the ECP to participate. If you need to join or reinstate your membership, click here.  You can apply for ECP membership and Mountain Biking School at the same time, just be sure to follow both application processes.

  • The School fee is $80.

If you have questions, email


The 2023 ECP Mountain Biking School schedule is now available!

The Bicycle Maintenance Class may be available to all ECP members, however prospective first-year students are encouraged to attend to prepare your bike for the school.

The student checkouts are available to any prospective students. Applicants who have missed the application deadline and are still interested will be considered on a case-by-case basis and may email the school directors directly for consideration. Only one of the student checkouts is necessary to attend.

Classes and outings are for accepted students only.

Description Date / Time Location (Subject to change)
Applications Open April 15 Click here to apply
Applications Close

May 21

Deadline is 11:59PM

Bicycle Maintenance Class TBD TBD
Student checkout #1 (attend #1 or #2) May 23, 6:30pm - 8pm Frick Park Lower Frick parking area
Student checkout #2 (attend #1 or #2) May 25, 6:30pm - 8pm Frick Park Lower Frick parking area
Students Notified of Acceptance to School June 1 By email
Class Introduction and  Orientation

TBD, 7pm-10pm

Class 1 July 19, 7pm-9pm Ascend South Side classroom
Outing 1 July 22, 9am-~3pm South Park
Class 2 July 26, 7pm-9pm Ascend South Side classroom
Outing 2 July 29, 9am-~4pm Alameda Park Pool Drive parking lot
Class 3 August 2, 7pm-9pm Ascend South Side classroom
Outing 3 August 5, 9am-~4pm North Park Pie Traynor parking lot
Post Graduation Trip (by invitation) August 25-27 Raystown Lake, PA 
Wheel Mill, Pittsburgh  Rays, Cleveland (optional)

Rain Day or Early December on a Saturday

The Wheel Mill 
Rays Bike Park


Applications are open.  Click here to apply.


The ECP Mountain Biking School will introduce participants to the basic information and skills of mountain biking.

Mountain biking can be a frustrating and scary sport at first, but once confidence and experience is gained, it becomes an incredibly fun way to be physically active and outside.  The amount of gear needed to be fully outfitted can be tuned to your expected level of commitment, and is usually a front-loaded expense (after a bike, accessories, clothes and gear are purchased, minimal amounts are needed to maintain the bike and gear).  You will gain fitness through the fitness routine before the classes and outings start to ensure that you get the most out of our time-on-bike together. Be prepared to prioritize your time this summer to become fit on the bike and commit to the classes and outings to go from frustrating and scary to fun and engaging.

You will gain the most from this experience by committing to every class and outing.  Be honest with yourself that you intend to ride before the school and more after the school while the training is fresh and a crucial time to lock in fundamental skills being honed in the class.  Although this school doesn't take up much beyond 5 weeks in your calendar, committing to prepare your body and bike and to practicing what you learn is absolutely key to take your skills to the next level and really unlock trail bliss!  Pittsburgh and the southwest PA region has an embarrassment of mountain biking riches that will keep you excited and coming back for more after you build your fitness and fundamental skills from this class.


You must be or become an ECP Member.  Click HERE to apply

An assessment of your basic bike handling skills and physical fitness is required
prior to being accepted as a student. You must be competent in mounting your bike, maintaining balance, shifting, braking, riding up and down ~3 miles of doubltetrack trails (like in Frick or Schenley Park) without needing to dismount or rest.  We will teach more skills in the classes and outings - only basic ability needs to be demonstrated at one of the two student checkouts.

Be committed!  (See Expectations)  The number of students accepted into the school
will be limited for everyone’s benefit.  Students must try to get out as
much as the Instructors put in!

Some Details

All students and instructors must maintain current membership in the ECP and sign a liability waiver.

The Mountain Biking School Fee is $80.00.  If you are not accepted, your money will be returned.  Note that you will also be responsible for all of your transportation costs for classes and outings.

The main text for the course is the free online book "Mastering Mountain Bike Skills" (2nd edition) by Brian Lopes and Lee McCormack.  There will be reading assignments and quizzes based on the reading. Students will be expected to keep up with
the required reading and homework, participate in class discussions, and to maintain biking fitness to minimum standards to remain in the school.

Submit the following items no later than May 21 2023 at 11:59 PM. 

  • Submittal of Online Application (print or save a copy for yourself)

  • PayPal for $80.00

Your application will not be complete without these items. Contact if you have additional questions.

Adopting the motto "Research, Education, and Adventure" in 1947, for three generations the ECP has provided the opportunity to learn new skills and meet new friends who share a willingness to accept the physical and mental challenges of outdoor exploration and adventure.

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Mailing Address:
5715 Beacon Street, No. 516
Pittsburgh, PA   15217

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