10 Commandments for Mountain Biking Greatness

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10 Commandments for Mountain Biking Greatness

Here are some great tips to help you hone your skills and become a mountain bike master. Pedal on my friends.

    I understand that we aren’t all going to end up Youtube sensations for jumping a train during the Tour de France or have a winning run at a Red Bull Rampage event. If you are still thinking you’ll be there someday, I commend you for never giving up on your dreams. However, I have some good friends that are doctors and by attempting your dream of extreme stunts, you help them reach their dreams of someday owning a private island. Just some food for thought. However, after talking with all the bikers I run into at the shop, shop employees included, I have come up with 10 sure fire ways to increase your skill as a mountain biker.

  1. Master the flat.
    • Try to keep your pedals at a steady pace, also known as your cadence.
    • When you coast, keep your pedals level so they don't bang or catch on things along the trail. I had a good friend almost impale herself on a branch when her pedal caught on a fallen tree beside the trail.
    • Look ahead instead of below. Don't look directly in front of your bike, instead look 10' to 15' away so you can better predict and react to the upcoming terrain...
  2. Descend like you mean it. When descending-
    • Stand up on the pedals keep your arms and legs flexed so they act like shock absorbers.
    • Keep your body low, elbows and knees bent
    • Keep your hips back and get yourself low
    • *IF you have a dropper post, drop it, because we want to keep your center of gravity as low as possible.
    • Keep your pedals level but drop your heels, so when you hit a bump you are properly braced and ready to hit it. This will force your legs to absorb the compression instead of your back, and prevent you from being bucked off.
    • Drop your saddle.
  3. It’s all uphill from here. When climbing-
    • Look ahead- anticipate the climb and drop into an easier gear.  DON’T WAIT TO SHIFT to when you are climbing. Shifting under pressure stresses the drivetrain and shortens the lifespan of your bike.
    • You want your weight on the back tire, move your body over to the top of your saddle, or even thrown your hips farther back behind the saddle to get more traction if you start to slip.
    • Standing up is ok on packed trails or roads, but on loose trails, you will skid out.
  4. The key to the corners. When cornering-
    • Control your speed when entering. A rider in motion wants to stay in motion.
    • Brake before the corner and let go of your brakes when you start into the corner. Begin accelerating at the apex to get the fastest burst of speed out of the corner.
    • Lean into the corner but keep your weight over the tires.  Do this by putting your pedal on the outside all the way down. DON’T LEAN TO FAR, or else you risk the possibility of slipping out.
  5. The secret to efficient braking. While braking-
    • Your front brake is going to stop better than your rear brake.
    • To slow down use your rear brake
    • To stop use both brakes
    • Never use just your front brake, unless you are aiming for that second of You Tube fame.
    • Try not to skid. When you skid, you lose control of your bike and that will never end well for you or your bike. Control is the name of the game.
  6. Look ma’ no hands. When riding-
    • Keep your hands light your feet heavy. This preserves your ability to control the bike.
    • You want to keep your hands really loose and relaxed on the handlebars
    • When going over big obstacles use your hands to pull up on the bike
    • Roll your back, back to put more weight on your feet and saddle
  7. Playing the mental game. While on the trail-
    • Focus on where you want to go, not what’s right in front of you.
    • Generally speaking, maintain your focus 15 feet  in front of you on the trail
    • Dont’ focus on what you want to avoid, focus on where you want to go. Besides a good tip for mountain biking, this is a great tip for life.
    • Pick a line and follow it. Don’t second guess yourself, commit and stay the course.
  8. Use your body to your advantage while riding.
    • Use your Arms and legs as shock absorbers
    • On a hill get down lower to decrease your center of gravity. This makes it a lot harder to tip over or get caught by a low hanging branch.
    • Your leg should have a slight bend in it when you are at the bottom of the pedal stroke on your saddle(you should NOT be able to touch the ground when you are on your saddle)..
    • Be aware of different body positions:
    1. Level Position
      • Level pedals which are evenly weighted
      • A slight bend in the knees and elbows
      • Index fingers on the brake levers 100% of the time (rim brakes often require 2 fingers). However, don’t ride with your brakes semi-engaged. This reduces the lifetime of the brakes and although good for us at the shop, it is bad for the whole braking system of your bike.
      • Eyes looking forward about 15 to 20 ft. ahead; look where you want to go, not where you don’t
    2. Ready Position
      • Level pedals that are evenly weighted
      • A deep bend in the knees and elbows (think of making chicken wings with your arms with a 90-degree bend.)
      • Hips shifted back with a majority of your weight being right behind the saddle.
      • Your back is flat and nearly parallel to the ground
      • Index fingers on the brake levers 100% of the time (rim brakes often require 2 fingers)
      • Eyes forward looking about 15 to 20 feet ahead; look where you want to go, not where you don’t
  9. Play nice with gravity, it will beat you.
    • Going slow down a descent can actually increase the likelihood of crashing. Be sure to treat gravity with respect and always keep your center low when descending.
    • When gravity isn’t your friend and you fall, bring your arms in, DON’T REACH OUT because you risk the possibility of greater injury.
  10. Gentlemen and Ladies, Trail Etiquette-
    • Uphill traffic has the right of way.
    • If someone comes up behind you, get to a place they can pass you and let them pass
    • When you approach hikers or horseback riders take it easy and go slow.to avoid spooking the horse or upsetting hikers. Rangers and judges often side with hikers so be weary of how you treat others on the trail.

These are a couple of the most important things to remember while out on the trails. I would love to write more tips but the rain just let up and I heard that the trails up Payson Canyon are nice and tacky. Don’t forget the number one rule of mountain biking, have fun and ride within your limits.

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