5. Trust That Your Equipment Can Handle a Beating
Generally, road riders attempt to avoid hitting anything in their path—potholes, rocks, trash, road kill, etc.—because a hard hit can cause fork, frame and wheel damage.
Mountain bikes, on the other hand, can be ridden into and over obstacles because the shock system absorbs a good part of the impact. This impact includes dropping off of small and large cliffs. Trusting that your equipment can handle these blows to the bike will make you a more confident and skilled rider.
6. Your Equipment Will Get Scratched, Bent, Dented and Otherwise Damaged Cosmetically
Cyclists can keep road bikes in pristine condition for years of riding, sans the occasional crash. If you attempt to ride off road hoping not to get any scratches on your nifty frame or carbon cranks, you should probably ride on a bike path or groomed dirt trail with no technical sections.
7. In Some Cases, it Is Better to Go Over the Big Rock Than Around it
Roadies see rocks as obstacles in the trail to be avoided. Mountain bike riders see rocks as naturally placed playground equipment. Sometimes it is a better option to just ride over the rock than attempt to go around it.
More: Knee Owner's Manual
8. Some Trail Sections Are Perfectly Walkable
Yes, even the best riders get off their bikes and walk some of the really hairy sections of trail. Don't expect to ride every section of every trail. In fact, sometimes it's more energy and time efficient to just get off the bike and walk.
9. Expect Instability
On a mountain bike, expect to have a feeling of sliding around on loose dirt, gravel, rocks and tree roots while you're riding. Unlike road riding, the ground is often loose and moving beneath you.
If you can relax and not over-correct your bike as it slides around beneath you, it is easier to remain upright. Being scared or getting nervous that the ground feels like ice can make you tense. Expecting instability makes it easier for you to relax and handle rough sections of trail.
10. Look Ahead at Least 15 Feet and Decide Where You Want to Go
One temptation is to look ahead and become fixated on an obstacle, watching that obstacle until you are literally on top of it. If you're doing that, you have not picked your next move after the obstacle.
Look ahead, pick a path and then trust your equipment can handle it. Also trust that you can make adjustments by feeling how your bike is responding to the trail. Feel your way through it, don't try to see your way through it.