Improve as a Mountain Biker this Spring
The temps are rising, the snow is melting, and it's almost time to hit the trails again. This spring, challenge yourself to improve your skills and farther and faster than ever before.
Tip #1: Gear up
When your bike fits you well, and is outfitted with the latest advancements in technology to handle any terrain, you'll find your confidence sailing. Your comfort and competence is directly tied into the equipment you're using. Dropper seatposts, adjustable suspension, modern trail geometry, tire offerings, thru axles, brakes, and more can make a huge impact on your ride experience.
Tip #2: Buddy up
The right group of friends to hit the trail with can make or break your experience. It's helpful to have some riders in the group more advanced than you - they can challenge you and give you pointers. However, you also want people that won't pressure you to try things above your limits. Choose people you're comfortable enough with to try new things, and comfortable enough to say no when you know it's just too much of a stretch.
Tip #3: If at first you don't succeed
Hit a tough portion of trail? Fail to nail it the first time? Instead of shrugging it off and just riding on, take the opportunity to hit it again. Whether it's a steep downhill, rocky climb, or tight corner that keeps throwing you off, analyze and hit it again until you get a clean run.
Tip #4: Work on the climb
It's easy to focus on the downhill with mountain biking - and let's be honest, that's the part most of us enjoy the most. However, it's equally important to work on your climbing skills. Body positioning, gearing, and pedaling efficiency are the key components to being a competent climber.
Tip #5: Get out of the saddle
Whether you're sprinting, or lifting your bike over a rock, or shifting your weight for a steep descent, on the trail you spend a decent amount of time out of the saddle. It's important to work on finding the proper position in relation to the bike when you're not in the saddle. You want your weight to be focused on the pedals - not on the handlebars.
Tip #6: Work on your cadence
If you can ride efficiently and smoothly, both in and out of the saddle, you'll be able to master most terrain. Cadence work can happen with single leg drills and tempo workouts. Make sure you can maintain a fluid stroke as you transition in and out of the saddle.
Tip #7: Get ready to fly
In mountain biking, your bottom leaves the saddle at times, and your tires leave the ground. You may not be confident in sailing high in the air, but try starting small. Work on taking your front tire off the ground and maintaining your speed through the landing. With a bit of practice, air time will become far less daunting.
Tip #8: Go for smart not hard
When steering for rough terrain, the hardest line is not always the best line. You are looking for the cleanest and most efficient way through. It's more important to carry through your speed, than to demonstrate challenging maneuvers. Clean is best.
Tip #9: Hit the gym
Growing as a mountain biker is going to involve some strength training. Mountain biking requires a strong upper body and core to perform well. When training, focus on grip strength, arms, shoulders and your trunk. Focusing on these areas will make you a stronger and safer rider.
Tip #10: Become friends with your brakes
“Feathering” your brakes before you get to tight corners, or during sustained downhills is an important skill to learn. It's also important to learn how to use your front brake, instead of relying almost exclusively on your back brake. The front brake provides excellent control and stopping power when used properly.
Information found on trainingpeaks.com.