With peak riding season just weeks away, we can taste sunny and 70 weather like it was just yesterday (for some of you…yesterday might have already felt like that).
One problem, a bad winter has left us fat and out of shape. The trainer in the corner started with all good intentions, but let’s face it…it became a towel rack. So…what do we do with winter legs and a gut as we get into crunch time? We find a way to get back into peak riding shape…and quickly.
Top 5 Ways To Get Back Into Peak Riding Shape
Here are the top 5 ways you can get back into peak riding shape quickly. Word of warning…some of these might hurt a little…
Miles With Elevation
The fastest way to get back into shape on your mountain bike is to start putting in the miles. When you combine miles with an area that has pretty significant elevation change, you are forcing yourself into pain that drastically increases your fitness in a short period of time. A couple of things to consider while taking this journey.
Bring plenty of water and nutrition. It is going to be somewhat of a culture shock to your body so you want to have reinforcements. That same hill that you killed in the fall is going to feel like a brick wall if your legs and lungs are not ready for it.
Take it easy. Get in a good warm up and tackle the time slowly at first and then start building up. If you go out to the hill and hit it full blast, you are going to cramp…or even worse…hurt something and you could be out for the season.
I know the trainer collected dust on the portions that were covered by the towel, but at least with road biking you are outside ripping up the blacktop. While road biking is a great way to get in spin time when the trails are wet, it is also one of the best ways to become a stronger mountain biker. The constant, repetitive spinning will do incredible things for your mountain biking endurance even when you are not trying to work off the winter.
I started the Ultimate MTB Workout Program to get my body in better technical riding shape. While improving your core strength is always a good thing, it also keeps and improves your riding endurance. When it comes time to put in weekend epics, your body is ready to handle the abuse and you prevent injury through correct strength conditioning. The best part…even if you do not belong to a gym..there is a way to do it at home.
There is nothing I hate more than running, but it works when there is no other option available. Running is the oldest way in history to get into shape and when done correctly can drastically improve your fitness. A byproduct of running is increased bone density for those hard hits on the bike.
I am as guilty as the next guy for eating like crap and expecting my body to feel and look the same. When I am off the bike, the bad food seems to call me by name. During this time of year, I take a close look at my diet and start to eat healthier again to shed the winter warmth. It’s back to lighter, more natural foods that my body can actually use rather than the waste that is mostly processed. How you eat can effect every pedal stroke on the trail, so try to keep the gas station food at a minimum.
Ideally…we would be doing these things all year long, but reality is that we can’t. By looking hard at our choices and preparing for the season, we can capitalize on those first couple of rides out in perfection and let the bike flow like it really wants to. Nothing kills a first ride stoke like leaving your lungs and legs at the car. But still…it beats a day of not riding at all!
This past weekend, I came to a fork in the trail. After slugging it out in the mountains for miles with friends, there was a decision to be made. It was time to either head back to the car or go for bonus miles on a steep, long climb with little payoff on the other side. We are hit with this decision a lot in our rides. The truth…the only way to get back into peak riding shape is to do some things that stretch our abilities. Just sitting back and hoping the power comes back to our legs is not going to cut it. I sucked it up…tried to muster what was left of my legs forward…and hit the climb knowing it was going to hurt like hell.
Conquering the Climb Even When It Hurts
These kind of climbs serve two distint purposes.
You are on a mission to get to a killer downhill.
You are trying to get into better shape.
You are a freak and love climbing.?
Ok…I know…that was actually 3 reasons but I don’t consider the 3rd one to be real…or human for that matter…so it doesn’t really count in my book.
When I hit the trailhead on Saturday, I didn’t have much left in the tank. Being a rider of heavier, longer travel rigs, there is an amount of power you need to have to get through the longer rides with mountain bikers on light bikes. To get this power back (or get in better climbing/overall shape), you have to start to push your limits and extend your fitness. What this creates is a painful experience that pays off huge dividends in the long run.
When you go to start one of these climbs, mind and body management is key. Most of the time, it will be the concentration on the task at hand and managing what power you have left that will get you over the hill. With cramps and mental breakdown looming on the horizon, what can you do to insure that you will get to the other side without falling on the side of the trail gripping your CamelBak crying for your mommy?
Tackle Your Climb 50 Feet At A Time
If I look all the way forward to see how much I really have left to muscle through, my mind will want to quit. Part of the trick I play on myself is tackling the climb in sections instead of worrying about the entire process.
“Just get over that next steep pitch.”
“You can make it that next 50 feet.”
By sectioning off the climb and mentally preparing myself for each section, the climb seems to go by quicker and it keeps me on the bike not thinking about the miles ahead.
Stay On The Bike and Smooth
One of the biggest mistakes riders make when trying to make it through a grueling climb is getting off the bike. 99 times out of a 100, you are better off gearing down, slowing down, focusing on smooth pedal strokes and lowering your heart rate. When you get off the bike, you are making your legs cool down again causing lactic acid build up and the need to warm back up again. Unless your completely locked up with cramps, do everything you can to stay on the bike and moving forward.
Think About Anything Other Than Your Burning Legs
While I am tackling these climbs on my mountain bike, I do everything in my power to try to block out that insane burning sensation that is coming from the muscles in my legs. I’ll put on music, count the rocks I am passing, argue with myself, sing an annoying song…anything other than think about that pain. If you focus on how much it hurts, you will just end up giving in and giving up (unless you are the freak that applies to #3 in the list above).
You Can Do It…You Just Have To Try
While it absolutely sucks while you are in the process, it is very satisfying to finish a painful climb victorious. On top of that, the next time around will be easier because you bit the bullet and made it happen. If you are wanting to become a faster and stronger rider, you can only achieve that through extending what you consider normal riding. If you plan on doing the same thing day in and day out…you are just going to get the same results.
If you are ready to push your mind and body even just a little bit, the results will be mind blowing. You just have to mentally prepare yourself and apply a little bit of riding technique. The rest will be just dirt under rubber.
Last week, I shot up a poll on mountain biking photography asking how involved your process is on capturing the action on the trail. With camera technology taking huge leaps in recent years (especially with video and small HD camcorders), I was interested to see how many of you guys are using photography to capture pictures on the trail.
Results: Mountain Biking Photography
From the results of those that voted, it looks like roughly 75% of you have cameras packed when you hit the trail. 25% of the total vote actually carry the heavy equipment with you on the trail.
As camera equipment continues to become better, lighter and more affordable, I think we are going to continue to see these numbers rise. Nice DSLR’s that can capture great action shots in low light situations used to be a piece of equipment reserved for those ready to drop as much on a camera as they do their bike, but…with time…that is starting to come down dramatically and the quality we have on lower end DSLR’s is better than we had out of the high end stuff just several years ago.
My Action Shots from This Week
As you guys already know, our weekly rides started back up this week, so I brought along my D300s and the Sigma 10-20/f4 super wide lens to capture some of the action. Here are some shots I got in utilizing the 7 FPS and 3D motion focus tracking.
If you want some tips and tricks on how to shoot mountain biking pictures, check out this 3 part guest post series by Keith Pytlinski (who also took the picture in this article).
If you are reading this (and you are probably not because you are actually searching for that next top end part you are going to buy), I want to let you in on a little secret. We all know your routine.
We have seen you come to the trail head with your bike that is color coordinated and blinged out with the latest and greatest the industry has to offer. The bike looks incredible propped up against your truck and the bench at the start of the trail. We watch you talk about parts, give advice and pine for the questions on your fully decked out rig. We see you on a regular basis with your bike, but there one large problem…we never actually see you RIDE that bike.
That’s right. The gig is up. We know your bike does not get dirty as it serves as a trophy on your wall at home or on your rack. We know that every single pivot and part is immaculate because of low miles. The only person you are fooling…is yourself.
You might fool the trail noob…but you would get a lot more respect from us if you had less bike and more dirt.
Look…everyone likes parts. I am as guilty as the next guy over drooling over color coordinated X.0 parts, but if you do not ever use them…it is a waste of money. On top of that…I don’t think you should give advice on part selection only because you buy a lot of parts. Every rider has different needs and a different budget and just because you buy the top end of everything, it doesn’t mean they have to too.
I get a small chuckle every time you get passed by a guy on a Wal-Mart special because at the end of the day…it is all about the ride…not the parts.
Don’t worry. There is still time to redeem yourself. You can still gain respect with your expensive colored out sled if you actually get it dirty. When we see you on the trail, there is no laughing or mocking no matter what speed you are pedaling. At least you are out there and not standing around talking about your bike. We can respect riding…but showing off at the trail head and calling that mountain biking will not fly.
Photography has always been a side hobby of mine and after extensive talks with Keith Pytlinski and other photographers that shoot cycling, I am really starting to ramp up my hardware to handle the needs of fast motion, under tree cover shooting (picked up a Nikon D300S to replace my D80 and a Sigma 10-20mm/F4 super wide lens).
It got me to thinking. In our group of riders, we have several of us that pack the heavy gear to take pictures during rides. We like to bring this side hobby/obsession to the trail to capture our friends ripping up singletrack or attempting stunts and features. Do you guys have the same situation?
If you want some tips and tricks on how to shoot mountain biking pictures, check out this 3 part guest post series by Keith Pytlinski (who also took the picture in this article).
There are going to be times in your riding where knowing how to jump your mountain bike will increase your technical skills and speed. Even if you are not looking to become the next Cam McCaul, having the basics of jumping in your riding resume will help you out on your favorite trails as you rip through singletrack.
By being able to jump your mountain bike correctly, you can do things like…
Skip over rocks and roots
Get more traction
Become a faster rider in technical sections
Have more control of your bike at faster speeds
How To Jump Your Mountain Bike
Jumping your mountain bike all starts with a proper take-off. Pick a line and stick with it. Trying to change things mid stream will disrupt your flow and cause problems for you throughout the rest of the process.
Compress the bike into the face of the jump by pushing down on the suspension. This is known as ‘loading the bike’ and it give you more traction and control as you leave the lip. When you do not load your suspension, your body stiffens up and the rear wheel of the bike bucks upward causing an unbalanced take-off.
Once in the air, keep your body loose and keep your arms and legs bent while feeling where the bike is headed. If you stiffen up, you will go into an controlled ‘dead sailor’ where the bike tends to go where ever it wants to while your stiff body is along for the ride. This usually ends up in a crash that is nose heavy in nature.
Spot the landing and push the bike into it creating more traction. Use your arms and legs as your primary suspension, soaking up the impact with body movement. If you rely completely on your suspension, you run the tendency of a hard landing where the bike can lose traction and slide out from underneath you.
Those are the jumping basics that will get you started. The trick is to start small and build your way up as you get more comfortable with your bike being airborne. As you get better at launching your bike, you are going to notice that you start to use this skill in your trail riding to make your ride smoother and faster over roots, rocks and small drops.
Here is a video from Bike Skills to give you a visualization on how this works on smaller jumps.
I received a great email from a reader yesterday wondering how to get into more aggressive FR/DH riding from an XC background. The question seems like a simple one, but nerves can start to get the best of you as you look at obstacles and covers of Bike Magazine.
So how does a rider that wants to get into more drops, jumps, rock gardens and other freeride and downhill riding but still conquer the nerves and fear at the same time. There is a secret to the madness and I’ll share that now.
Riding More Aggressively Is A Progression
Before you go find the first 10 foot to flat drop you see and try to huck off of it, just know that you are probably going to chicken out or break something. You have to condition your skills and your mind to accept a more aggressive riding style over time.
Those guys that you see doing massive drops and jumps did not start out with the biggest thing to land them on magazine covers. They started with smaller drops and technical features to grow the skill set and confidence that eventually led to the build up and larger stunts.
If you are looking to start getting in to more aggressive riding. Find smaller drop and TTF’s that you can start off with. If your mountain bike tires have never left the ground, this might be a 6″ lip off the ground. It literally does not matter how big or small your first attempt it…it just matters that you did it, so pick something you are comfortable with.
As you start to get more confident, move up the scale. Go from 6″ to a foot…a foot to 2 feet…
Eventually, you will hit a limit that you are comfortable achieving and you can start to make that height harder with more difficult lead ins and landings (rocks, roots, etc.).
What Gear Do You Need?
Luckily for you, today’s 5.5″ trail bike can handle a pretty good amount of abuse. As long as you are not dropping off the roof of a house, you should be able to ride just about anything you put your mind to. Granted, you are not going to take full DH runs at the speed you could on a real DH bike, but there are guys that rock that stuff on a hard tail, so anything is possible.
To help with the confidence level, I would pick up a set of pads like the 661 Kyle Straits knee pad and some elbow pads. This keeps your joints protected and gives you a little bit more confidence as you hit the hill. I would also recommend picking up a full face helmet to keep your brain in tact in case the worst should happen. A full face helmet can take some getting used to…so make sure you are comfortable with it before you hit anything big.
As you progress in your new aggressive FR/DH riding style, you are going to want to get more dedicated equipment for the cause as there are things like a specific DH rig that will make your riding faster and more controlled with bigger suspension, but…in the meantime…feel out your tolerance level and start to stretch what you consider normal.
It always starts with smaller to bigger in your quest to hit the bigger stuff. By conditioning your mind and body to take on more aggressive riding, you will prevent injury or equipment failure from trying to hit something you weren’t ready for.
While I was enjoying a weekend away in New York City, my fellow riding friends back in Atlanta were getting a taste of prime riding weather…sunny and 70. With this winter being one of the worst ones in recent memory, mountain bikers have had to get really creative to get in any spin time, so the tacky trails on perfect riding weather is a welcome change from the cold, wet mess that has plagued most areas over the past couple of months. With a small taste of what is on the horizon, we need to get our legs and equipment ready for the greatness that is spring mountain biking.
Preparing For The Prime Mountain Bike Riding Season
So what can we do as mountain bikers to explode out of the gate without exploding our legs or our mountain bikes?
Preventative Maintenance and Preparation
One of the best things you can start doing is getting that cobweb filled mountain bike ready for trail duty. It has been sitting there all winter long, or…if you were lucky…you got the rig out for a couple of rides in the mess. Either way…it needs some love if you want your mountain bike to perform properly once the sky opens up. Here are a couple of items that are a must do as you look forward to endless sun filled spring rides. (preferably not the morning before your ride)
Drivetrain Check – Check out your drivetrain to make sure everything is lubed and in working order. Clean all parts and re-lube before riding and take a test ride to make sure your bike is shifting properly under load. Nothing is worse than getting out on the trail and having shifting issues or a chain snap because you didn’t take the time before the ride. Replace and chains, cassettes or chain rings as needed. It is typically recommend that you change these parts as a group as they tend to wear into each other making these components a matched set over time. Also check your shifting cables and all exposed areas to make sure everything is ok and functioning properly.
Seal Check – The seals on your frame and suspension tend to self lubricate with use. If your mountain bike has been sitting for an extended period of time, it is always a good idea to check all seals, bearings, bushings and any other moving parts to make sure they are not cracked or dried out. Replace any of these seals as necessary before you get out and ride.
Torque/Bolt Check – Make sure to check all bolts and related torque specs before hitting the trail. Do you really want to be that rider that goes OTB because their handlebars spun around? No sense in getting injured on the first ride out.
Getting Your Body Ready
If you have been off the bike for awhile, that first ride out is going to be a shock to the system. That trail that you used to blast around with energy to spare at the end of last season is going to be a brutal reminder that you are not in that same shape. Here are some tips to get over that hurdle and get your riding up to par in time for the peak season.
Off-Season Training – Whether you are on a trainer or doing a specific program like I am with The Ultimate MTB Workout Program, any off-season training you do will pay off in a huge way during the beginning of the season. Now is the time to ramp up your workouts or start them if you haven’t already. Specific programs like The Ultimate MTB Workout program can work wonders in getting your riding to that next level as well…
Watch Your Ass – Sounds funny…but it is true. That first ride out with any kind of mileage is going to remind you quickly that you haven’t been on a saddle in awhile and the next day is going to leave you wondering why your ass hurts. It might be a good idea to invest in something like Anti Monkey Butt powder or some extra padded riding shorts to get you over the hump at the beginning of the riding season. Believe or not…you condition your ass to put up with more abuse with more miles (that sentence sounded bad in more ways than one…).
Stretch It Out – At the end of the ride…stretch out your muscles and ligaments to prevent damage and injuries. You are going to be tighter at the beginning of the season than you are towards the end as your body gets used to the routine again. It is also a good idea to start regular stretching now to prevent injuries when you start riding.
Watch Your Diet – I don’t know about you guys…but when it is cold and rainy…bad food just seems to find me automatically. My winter diet is much different than my summer one as I start packing on the pounds for warmth. Several weeks before you get into your riding season, it would be a good idea to start watching your diet to eat a little bit more healthy. All of these little changes in getting your body ready for the riding season pay off huge down the road.
Final Preparation For That First Ride Out
That first ride out can get the heart racing for mountain bikers of all skill levels. The ground like velcro, the air is clean and you are ready to rip the trail to pieces with all of that pent up biking frustration. Just remember…hit the trail slow, get in a proper warm-up and ease back into full swing so that you don’t blow up on mile 2 wondering what the hell happened. By incorporating the tips above and keeping that in mind…you are going to be leaving your riding buddies in the dust stoked as hell that you are out on the bike.
Even the tamest of trails have sections that are filled with rocks, roots and other high speed rough areas. Navigating this rough sections of trail at speed can be a nerve racking task for new riders or experienced riders looking to get more technical with their riding.
For me, there is nothing quite like blasting through a rock garden and then looking back at what your bike just ate up on the trail. Technical riding has huge payoffs and the same skills you use for riding rock gardens are the same skills you use for other fast, technical, rough sections of mountain bike trail. The sound of the suspension soaking up the hits, the tires gripping hard rock, the rhythmic chorus of your bike navigating trail that others won’t even walk…it all plays into everything that is great about mountain biking.
How To Rip Through Rock Gardens and Technical Trail
9 times out of 10, rock gardens and technical sections of mountain bike trail look much harder than they really are. I can’t tell you how many times I have blown through something and thought, “that was it?”. The biggest and hardest step is committing and trusting your bike. After that, with a little planning, the rest is a walk in the park.
Momentum Is Your Friend – Without momentum, your bike is going to get hung on rocks and roots. As you go through a rock garden or technical section of trail, make sure you start off with enough speed that you can carry through that section of trail without losing so much momentum that you eventually stop mid process. You don’t have to be doing mach 5, but if you plan to get through with a snails pace, you are going to have a rougher ride and probably get stuck. Speed and momentum will be your best friend as you navigate these sections of trail.
Keep Your Head Up – As with most riding, keeping your head up and looking out instead of looking in front of your tire is the key to riding these sections of trail successfully. When you look right in front of your tire, you end up trying to make small changes in your line that are unnecessary and will hurt you in the long run. By looking forward, you can plan the section much easier and keep your weight where it is supposed to be.
Weight Slightly Back From Center - Keep your arms and legs bent (no matter how much suspension travel you have…they are still your best suspension) and your weight slightly back from center. You still want front end grip, but you do not want unexpected bumps or sharp hits to throw you over the bars. By having your weight slightly back, you can adjust for any unexpected hits and add traction with the rear suspension.
Pick A Line And Commit – One of the biggest mistakes I see when riders are trying to conquer technical sections is trying to change their line mid stream. Once you pick a line, stick with it. Your bike has a lot more skills than you could ever imagine and it will pull you through. By changing your line in the middle of the section, you are robbing yourself of much needed momentum and speed. Most times, you are better off just ripping through it as straight as you can.
As you head out on your next ride, try out a section of trail that you might have ridden around before. By stepping it up with your technical riding ability, you will become faster in all aspects of your riding.
Here are some rock garden mountain biking tips from Bike Skills.
Buying new mountain bike parts and frames can be stressful for even the most experienced mountain biker. On one hand, it is great how many options we have today in mountain bike components and frames, but it can make choosing the right one for your trail and riding style difficult. I get asked a lot about my opinion on other riders buying decisions and while I can’t tell anyone what the perfect bike for their riding style is under their budget, there are some universal truths that just about any mountain biker can keep to when purchasing a new frame or part. So…here is the best generic advice I can give on buying new mountain bike frames and parts for anyone looking to upgrade their equipment before the season kicks into full gear.
My Advice On Buying New Mountain Bike Gear
This is pretty much what I stick to when I am dropping my personal funds on a mountain bike frame or part. Hopefully this can help clear the noise and get you started.
Parts Last Longer Than Frames
Once you jump into the frame only market, you are going to start to swap out frames more than you do parts. Even in complete bike purchases, you will transfer your better components over to the new build leaving the lower grade parts as backups or to install on the old bike for resale. As you look at bikes to buy or parts to upgrade, keep in mind that you are going to keep those higher end parts for a longer period of time, so that investment is going to bring you more return on your money. I have a Chris King headset that has moved through 7 different bikes. Several of my wheelsets have been on 3 bikes or more.
Swapping out frames on a regular basis is also more common as your riding style changes so your mountain bike frame needs change as well. No matter what bike you are riding, the components will stay virtually the same (things like suspension fork may change due to frame specifications).
Spend The Money Where It Matters
I know that carbon cage looks cool as hell on your rig, but for a 1/3 of the price…you can step down to XT or X.9 and get the same performance. You will not be shaving precious grams or have the bling to show off at the trailhead, but you will be able to save that money and spend it on more component parts that will actually affect how your bike performs on the trail. I can’t tell you how many mountain bikes I have seen with $250.00 rear derailleurs and $100.00 wheelsets. It just doesn’t make sense.
I tend to make the biggest investments on wheels and suspension forks. The rest of my builds get the run of the mill XT or X.9 components.
Your Friend Is Wrong
9 times out of 10, your buddy that is telling you to buy his bike because it is the best thing he has ever thrown a leg over is wrong. No one can tell you what the best mountain bike is for you. If his bike was the best thing since sliced bread and everyone should have one…then there would only be that model of mountain bike on the market. All of our body types, riding styles and trail needs are different. Do not let someone talk you into buying something without riding it first to see if it is exactly what you need. It is not their cash they are shelling out…it is yours.
Ideally, you want to test ride as many bikes as you possibly can to find out what works best in your situation. Read reviews, try it out…talk to as many mountain bikers as you can and then formulate your own decisions based on fact. Try not to let this become an emotional, off the cuff buy.
Think About The Resale
Boutique bikes are easier to sell as frame only and big box bikes (Trek, Specialized, Gary Fisher, etc.) are easier to resell as complete bikes. It is pretty hard to unload a big box bike as frame only and get any resemblance of a quality resell price out of it. This is something to keep in mind as you look at purchasing complete mountain bikes or just a mountain bike frame. If you are selling a Trek or Specialized mountain bike, it does not have to have all of the original components on it, but it is going to resell much easier as a complete build as that target buyer is in the market for a complete mountain bike.
Better Deals Are Found In The Off-Season
You are going to find better prices and deals in the off-season as you have more buying power because retail is slow. The same goes for picking up used parts and mountain bikes. If you are looking to save some money or you are on a tight budget, waiting until the colder months may be a great option. There will be less to choose from in the used market, but the prices are generally lower.
We are dead in the middle of the wet season on the northern hemisphere. As I write this, my night ride has been canceled due to weather moving in from the west, so there is no chance of getting out on the trail. Hell…it seems like it has rained every weekend for the past 6 weeks! As potential saddle time decreases, we have to make due with what we can get and sometimes that means heading out in less than satisfactory conditions. Riding wet trails have a completely different feel to them than when they are dry. That same trail that you have ridden 2,000 times before, has different ride characteristics when everything gets wet. So how do we navigate the wet terrain to get in some valuable ride time during this time of year?
Winter/Wet Weather Mountain Biking Tips
Disclaimer: There are trails that are closed during periods of wet weather. Here at Bike198.com, we do not promote or condone riding closed trails no matter how long it has been since you have gotten in a ride. Follow the trail open/close suggestions of the local group that governs your trail and always check for status prior to leaving for a ride. Causing un-needed damage to a trail system is never a good thing.
First…you need to know what you are dealing with. During wet weather riding, obstacles like roots and rocks are going to be much slicker than during the drier months. These means your bike is going to get thrown off line easier and you are going to have to pay more attention to grip and where you are positioning your body weight. It is going to be essential to plan ahead more and keep your vision looking outward.
Traction is an important aspect of any ride, but in wet weather…it can be hard to come by. As you go through sections of technical rocks and roots, your rear tire is going to want to spin out and stop your momentum more than normal. Try to find a gear selection that might be 1 or 2 gears higher than your typical sit and spin gear. If you have your gearing too easy, the high cadence can overload the rear so you spin out, but the slower you have to pedal can make the torque or need to stand spin you out as well. The trick is finding that happy medium where you can successfully clear sections seated with adequate grip.
As you come up on really muddy sections of trail, analyze the situation and get off to walk if necessary. While there may be a path to ride around the mud, only ride around the muddy section if you are still on trail. We run into problems with unnecessary trail widening when riders ride around obstacles and mud.
You are going to find yourself keep your bike more upright in slow technical and on fast turns. With slippery conditions, it is hard to get hard corner bite without the bike wanting to fly out from underneath you. Try to focus on balance and grip as you navigate slick sections and keep as much weight and grip downward. If you start to point that grip sideways and towards the side knobs of your tires like you do in dry conditions, you could get a surprise as you are sliding in the mud and your bike is in the air.
As you are riding in wet conditions, the most important thing you can do is have the mental realization that it is not just another day out on the trail. By keeping aware of what is going on around you, putting more distance in between you and the rider in front of you for safety and being aware of a little bit of trail etiquette…you can get in some great rides during this time of year.
Here are some wet weather mountain biking tips from Bike Skills.
Downhill mountain biking is one of those techniques that is becoming even more prevalent as bikes start getting more capable. More riders than ever are looking for ways to get faster while riding downhill in technical trail conditions, but they are conditioned to riding shorter travel bikes and hardtails. So how do we get faster going downhill and really use the bike’s capabilities? It all starts with keeping some core techniques in mind as you hit the trail and always remember…your bike has far more ability than you do…you are really just catching up. Trust your abilities, grow your skill set and trust your equipment.
Tips For Mountain Biking Downhill
The #1 mistake most riders make when experimenting with more technical downhill trails is looking directly in front of their tire. It is essential that you look down the trail, and the faster you are riding…the farther down the trail you should be looking.
Positioning your weight is your key to stability. By moving your weight lower and more rearward, you can traction on the rear end of the bike and increase your on trail stability. By keeping your legs and arms bent, you can soak up unexpected trail features by using the most travel you have on your bike…your body.
Try to stay off the brakes as much as possible. Knee jerk reactions with your brakes can blow you offline or even worse. Controlled smooth braking while keeping your speed at a level you are comfortable with will prevent most of your wrecks.
Pad up if you need to. A lot of downhilling is confidence. If it helps you out to protect your body in case the worst happens, then do it. You can never have too much on and you can always have too little. Wear whatever makes you comfortable on the trail as you try new ways to increase your speed and control on technical downhills.
In this video from Bike Skills, Greg Minnaar takes you through the downhilling basics.