At the end of October we finished up our first session of Ridgway Devo. A few weeks ago I told you about 3 simple skills to take your mountain biking to the next level; today I’ll build on those 3 skills.
Level chin– I’m sure you’ve heard to always look 10-15 feet in front of you when mountain biking. While the range changes based on conditions, speed etc the basic idea is to look ahead at where you want to go. Since the little ones don’t grasp the concept of feet I tell them level chin. As long as they are keeping their chin level there is a good chance they are looking at where they need to go. Once that chin drops up or down, balance suffers and wheels start going off trail. If you have trouble looking ahead think about just keeping your chin level. It’s a start.
Parallel pedals – When descending you must have parallel pedals, meaning your pedals should be at 3 and 9 o’clock parallel to the frame. If you have one pedal down it’s going to hit a rock or other obstacle and toss you. Having parallel pedals also forces you into a good attack position and moves weight to the rear of the bike.
Cornering basics – Look through the turn to where you want to go. Simple, but a lot of times when coming across a tight switchback turn I see people looking at the apex of the switchback or their front wheel. Do not do this! Look at your exit, otherwise known as the straight part. This involves looking over your inside shoulder. Lean into the turn and voila you made it!
Once you have practiced those skills you can build on them with body position, spinning and pumping:
Body position – When riding technical terrain a lot of riders keep their elbows in when climbing and push their entire body to the rear of the bike when descending. This causes two issues. One, you can’t breathe correctly with your elbows in and thus suffer on the climb. Two, by placing your body over the rear of the bike you loose control of the bike. A better strategy is to learn the attack position. Below is all you need to know about the attack position courtesy of Lee Likes Bikes.
Higher Cadence or Spin – As a cyclist you have probably heard about the importance of cadence. Most of us relate this to road riding and keeping cadence high while climbing a steep hill on your road bike. Spin is actually just, if not more, important in mountain biking. When climbing on your MTB you will save energy, have a better ride and save your knees if you don’t mash your gears. From the attack position move your hips forward, keep back straight, have a loose grip on the handlebars and you are ready to spin up that hill. It will take time to turn from a gear masher into an efficient spinner but it will happen if you practice. For more tips on hill climbing check out my post steep climbs.
Pump– Ever wonder what in the heck you are suppose to do at a pump track? First take a look at this cool video all about what is a pump track.
If you have access to a pump track try to focus on these 4 things. These moves are important to gaining that momentum, flow and ‘oneness’ with the trail you see in pros.
1. Push down before the bump.
2. Pull up and over the front of the bump.
3. Bend low with your knees while maintaining a straight back on top of the bump.
4. Push down the back of the bump
Hopefully you can find a place to practice these skills before the winter sets in!