Experienced Rider Skills

Often as one moves along with mountain biking and gets more and more comfortable on trails and negotiating the variety of changes it is good to revisit some aspects of your ride that maybe you might have had issue with from time to time.
For me in the beginning of the season one thing that I notice right off is that my response /reaction times seem a bit slower and out of sinc with the quick trail and elevation changes I encounter.
Shifting Thru Gears Smoothly
I start to remind myself that when starting a climb I should not wait to too long to shift gears, my legs may be itching for a fight ,but my stamina is still a bit lacking from the long winters "nap". So the sooner you learn to let the bike do a lot of the work the easier it will be and the longer that you'll be riding before you might get beat. Now when I say work that means you too. You need to anticipate and look up and ahead on the trail and have that trigger (shifter) finger ready for action and of course at the correct moment which I have found for me is much sooner then I usually expect. And much easier said then done.
Response time especially when it comes to shifting gears often is the difference between making a climb and making it with lots of unnecessary work and energy wasted. In a span of maybe 10-15 feet it is possible to shift thru 5 or 6 speeds (gears on the rear cassette) one gear at a time, never missing a beat with barely any extra effort. The hard part is to slow down or (coordinate) your cadence (pedal stroke) to an appropriate speed while you're shifting in order to always maintain smooth gear-drive-chain engagement.
This ability to make smooth shifts rapidly and on the fly with the added ability to have your cadence completely in sink with each gear speed requirement is a highly desire-able skill to foster. It comes in very handy under all conditions and especially where rapid deceleration of your speed often occurs.