15 Tips and Techniques to Improve Your Mountain Biking Skills
This is the continuation of our 13 Tips That Will Have You Mountain Biking Like a Pro, published last week. Audrey Duval, a mountain biking instructor, sent me the tips and techniques below, so you can improve your mountain biking skills.
Technique and Tips:
- Disc brake – one finger on the brake all the time, no need for more than one as you will need your other fingers on the handle bar to move the bike around and stay in control. Use the brake as a dimmer and not like an on/off switch...
- Always look ahead – this is a very simple tip but we always forget about it!
- Start slow – adjust your bike, ride on an unpaved flat road or a double track, add some hills to practice your shifting and your balance, and keep going. One ride at a time!
- Going uphill – play in putting your weight forward. Downshift before you hit the hill and pedal as much as you can.
- Going downhill – try to relax and stay focused on looking ahead. Stand up off the saddle with your pedal leveled and moving your weight a little bit back. Learn how to “cowboy/cowgirl leg” (having your legs apart instead of snuggled) so you can move the bike side to side if an obstacle comes your way. If you are a roady, forget about snuggling the seat with your thigh as this only works on a road – you may fall down!
- Seat height – quick and easy way to know: put your thumb at the top of your hipbones with your hand flat, your palm should touch the seat. This would be your climbing height, as it will maximize your climbing power, using the full leg muscle to work for you... and save your knees.
- Shifting Gears – it is an art that you will have to master! First tip is to shift before it becomes absolutely necessary. So, anticipate up-hills and shift gears before you slow down too much. Second tip: you want to pedal really fast, slow your pace and at the same time shift your gear, resuming your pedal stroke after that.Third tip is to shift often, so you will be able to do it intuitively without having to think if you are shifting to an easier or more difficult gear.
- Be patience – If you are just starting out, go to beginner trails and gradually move up.
- Or take one of Audrey’s courses
Choosing your trails:
- Talk to locals and go to local bike shops. Or sign up for Endurance Unltd!
- Learn the rules. Very recently, bear spray became mandatory for Nordic Centre events, for example. So, learn the local rules and etiquette and enjoy the trails. Remember: the road and trails are shared.
- Walk the trails, getting ready to what you will find and what you are going to do. And don’t be ashamed to stop and walk in certain parts of a trail.
- Find popular trails and mountain biking communities. http://www.bikepirate.com/
- Start on dirt roads; move to doubletrack and up to singletrack eventually. But take your time to build your skills.
- And, most important tip ever: have fun!
For more information, check the rules of the trail from the International Mountain Bicycling Association.