hey dude. Most of the riding I do in my lifetime is solo. I spend a lot of time just feeling the hill and getting into my own little zone. I listen to the birds and whatnot before hitting most jumps. Sometimes I just sit there and ponder a hit for 30 minutes before deciding its the right time to go big. Honestly, everything you know before it happens so just take your time.
I did not have many friends to ride with growing up and I guess i did not really want any. There are a few groups of people I wont ever forget though. They must have been 18-25 i was about 14 or so and honestly I would just follow them around. They would be hitting these wicked jumps and I guess I really looked up to them or thought they were cool. I would just hang 10 or 15 feet back, watch how they did it and comfortably try it after they were done.
One day I had been hitting the jump all day and was feeling really confident and decided to bomb it from the top of the hill. Guess I figured i should do something stupid like that after they had left. Well with the big guys out of the scene some skiier thought it was wise to stop on the top of the lip and watch his kid or something. Anyway, i swerved off the side of the lip cleared the landing by quite a bit and landed flat on my back.
couldn't breathe and had to sleep on a wooden board for a week but hey, that was still one of the best days i ever had riding.
you don't *need* an instructor. It always helps if good people are around showing you what is right from wrong though. There were other groups of riders who I used as demonstrators without their knowledge as well. Sorta felt like one of the group myself lol...
for more advanced stuff I learned tons from snowboard videos, but at that point I was an instructor myself and there was pressure to learn and land new tricks to keep up. Definitely borrowed skill points here and there.
i guess what i am trying to say is having an instructor can speed things up, but it can also slow things down and damage your confidence.
I even had skiiers teach me to snowboard, just by the fact that they were laughing at my hesitation to hit bigger stuff.
pay attention to size and weight of your fellow riders, and giver.