Track standing is one of the most important mountain bike skills you can have to become a better mountain biker. While it may look like a cool trick to test out in a parking lot in front of your friends, track standing is actually the crucial element of slow technical riding. The ability to stop your bike without having to get off will get you through some of the most technical terrain that you previously thought you would have never been able to ride.
Track standing is one of those skills that I frequently practice in my garage, at trailhead parking lots and during general social stops while riding. It vastly improves your balance and feel on the bike. Have you ever been in one of those situations where you were taking a tight switchback and dabbed? How about climbing a small section of rocks and your line got a little out of wack so you ended up un-clipping and throwing foot down? Riding in a group and someone slowed down ahead of you so you had to get off and walk? All of these situations can be ridable with the aid of the track standing skill.
The side effect to being able to track stand on your mountain bike is getting you just one step closer to you and your bike feeling like one unit that is working together instead of a tool you are working against. The more you can improve your balance on the mountain bike, the better riding you will have in all situations. Balance and the ability to shift your weight on the bike knowing the end result will make you a better rider in all aspects of riding.
So how do you track stand on your mountain bike?!
To help us out, the crew over at Bike Skills (bikeskills.com) hooked us up with a video that spells out proper track standing technique. Check it out.
I have been mountain biking for almost 13 years and seriously for the last 5 years. I began leading a beginners mountain bike group from work, and knowing that I was them a few years back which really put things in perspective for me. I wouldn’t even attempt a creek crossing, and if I did, my heart would be in my throat just waiting on my front wheel to buckle. Logs, forget it, I would push over them. Even bridges would make me pause, and I see this in my beginner group. I try to be encouraging to build up their confidence. That is what it took for me to improve, to hear the words, “you can do it”, “just lift your front wheel when you start over the log.” I mean, I didn’t grow up riding dirt bikes like my husband did, so any little tip definitely helped me. I try to think about what would help them the most, and here are a few of the tips I know helped me when I was trying to gain my confidence on my bike.
Shift gears in advance to prepare for the obstacle.
Learn that you can lean with the bike in a turn, but with care on gravel.
Lift your front wheel when trying to go over an obstacle like a log.
Watch the trail 10-20 feet ahead of your front wheel.
Don’t look at what you want to avoid on the trail, you WILL hit it.
Instead look at where you want to go.
Don’t forget to hydrate.
Take a map
Don’t ride alone
Always apply the back brake first!
To some of you, these tips may seem elementary, but I know that in my group that I lead they were helpful. Most of my mountain bike beginner group are women that are trying mountain biking for the first time. The more I bike the more I love the sport and the over all feeling I get when I am out there on the trails. Any encouragement that I can give anyone to help them improve their riding ability is worth the time.
So try to get out on the trails, even if it is for a short spin, and try something new, cross that log or creek with confidence. You will be surprised how tackling a new obstacle like that will set you up for a great feeling the rest of the day!
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