Summer is coming and it’s a perfect opportunity to brush up on your MTB skills. Here are some top tips to get you ready for the trails this summer.
In most sports, your head plays an important role. You need to look where you are going and in mountain biking, it’s no different – “Where your head goes, your body will follow”. Look as far down the trail and look for the solutions rather than the problems. If you look at the tree or the rock you will be drawn toward it. Look where the path of least resistance is and as far down the trail as possible to give you time to react and to pick the smoothest line.
For descents get the seat down and out of the way. Dropper seat posts on modern bikes are a safety consideration and make riding much more fun. Getting the seat down allows you more freedom of movement around the bike, makes it easier to get in the correct position and allows you to get your centre of gravity lower when the going gets tough.
Relax! Your arms and legs should be cushioning your ride, when descending your knees and elbows should be pointing slightly outwards and your body between your hips and head should be quite firm. As the bike goes over bumps your arms and legs absorb and extend to smooth out the trail allowing your body and particularly your head to follow a smooth path down the trail. If your arms and legs are too straight each bump will get transferred straight into your body and knock you off balance.
Learn how to use your brakes correctly. i.e. how to apply maximal braking force and still keep the wheels rotating. Locked rear brakes destroy the trail and have little effect on slowing you down whereas the front brake can provide you with up to 70% of your braking power on steep descents. With great power also comes great responsibility, so learn how to dose the brakes and feel when they are in danger of locking up (front and back). Look ahead and make sure you brake in areas where you have plenty of grip and braking power. Brake before corners rather than in them and when it’s slippery control your speed.
When riding off-road the grip varies considerably from moment to moment. Whereas on the road we can lean in with the bike on flat turns with a mountain bike there is a risk that the wheels will slide out from underneath us on gravel, roots, or stones. For this reason, we aim to lean the bike into the corner underneath us but keep our body upright over the tyres. Get the outside pedal down, look as far around the corner as you can and push the inside handlebar grip into the corner. For bonus points rotate your body into the corner by swinging your hips to the outside of the turn and bringing your outside elbow forward.
If you want further information or coaching on these tips we provide skills courses a number of times a year check out our events page on www.swissalpineadventure.com
Or join in on our MTB skills discussion on the forum here: