Come from Australia, now in Canada (Clearwater BC).
Never worried about ticks in AUS. Prob wonâ€™t worry about them here. AUS also had paralysis ticks and those SOB that make you allergic to meat (I think Iâ€™d straight up kill myself if that happened).
Itâ€™ll be a rarity that Iâ€™ll stop when riding MTB, and never really touch foliage so risks are minimal.
I guess in AUS I was more concerned with snakes and shit, in Canada thatâ€™s turned to bears and cougars.
As for skills course, where you live? Canada it seems? If youâ€™re anywhere near Clearwater make sure you bring your bike - Iâ€™ve raced MTB for 10 years or so, teach basic skills and track craft, letâ€™s go riding!
Remember these four:
V - vision: look up along the trail, not at front wheel. 15 meters minimum If you can and scan back and forth to the trail. Prepare yourself for whatâ€™s coming.
P - position: all about your balance and stance on your bike. Any time youâ€™re not actively pedaling, stand up, bend at knees, bend at elbows. Get semi-low. The bent limbs give you more room to move the bike under you, extra shock absorbers, lower center of gravity.
M - momentum: carrying appropriate speed makes most things easier. Try it. Roll at a large rock slowly, bet you fall over. Do it fast, bet you go straight over the top.
T - technique: last thing to work on. Involves stuff like getting front wheel up if needed, chiding better lines, how to go off small drops (donâ€™t â€śliftâ€ť your bars, push them out away from you (when youâ€™re in your powered stance) as your arms straighten, the bars will swing upward).
Do those first three and youâ€™ll be better equipped to handle most stuff.
Also: show us the bike!! Whatâ€™d you get?
Two more suggestions:
VISION - While looking up the trail, look where you WANT to go. See and acknowledge the existence of obstacles in/next to the trail, but don't focus on them. You go where you're looking. I've known many a new rider that have run into something they shouldn't have, just because they were staring at it.
POSITION and TECHNIQUE - Move while on your bike. People that ride on the road plant their butts on the saddle and just pedal, that doesn't work in mountain biking. As Helliquin said - get up out of the saddle with bent arms/knees to help absorb impact. Shift your weight as you go over obstacles, don't be afraid to put a knee out in a corner... as a friend once said, a mountain biker dances with their bike. Learn to track stand.
Try not to drown / rock the bike / hobby-jog