Whether you are new to mountain biking or you have been mountain biking for years, the truth is that, there is always room for improvement and there are always new things that can be learned. Working on your techniques for jumping over logs, carving out corners, or simply improving your balance should all be an ongoing process and, the more you practice, the better your mountain biking skills will become.
In this post, we will highlight some of the aspects of your riding that you may want to look at the next time you hit the trail with your friends. These are some very simple tips for the novice and the expert rider alike that could improve your riding style in no time at all. So, before next your reach for your helmet and gloves and you head out on your mountain bike for another adventure; check out these very simple ways that you can improve your mountain biking skills and style.
It’s a fact that, when you panic, your body tenses up and that means that you will be more prone to having an accident and, if you do take a tumble when your body is tensed up, it’s going to hurt a lot more. Try to relax when you are riding and enjoy the experience. It will make your body much more flexible and supple so your riding style will be a lot more fluid and you won’t feel the all the bumps and the dips on the track quite so much
That might be easier said than done when you are hurtling toward a sharp bend at breakneck speed, but try to stay calm as you approach a turn. Even if you do make a wrong decision and you end up on the floor, if your body is relaxed, you’ll be back on your feet in no time at all with nothing worse than a couple of bumps and bruises and, perhaps, a little bit of lost pride.
A mistake that many cyclists make is they fail to recognise that their bike and their body are two different things. Rider and bike as one may sound like the right thing to aspire to but actually it is totally the wrong way to think about mountain biking.
Think of your bike and your body as two separate entities and allow both to move independently of each other. If your torso is open and away from the bike, it will allow you to twist and angle the bike and it will give you plenty of room to adjust your position as you negotiate the trail.
This is especially important on the more difficult trails where heavier handling and greater traction is required. It’s also a very important point to bear in mind when you take sharp corners and traverse rock gardens. In these conditions, you need your body free from your bike so that you can lean over the front wheel and use your body weight to gain more traction and to keep the bike’s momentum going.
As we discussed in our article on how to carve around corners, you should be braking before you encounter an obstacle, not as you negotiate your way through it. The reason for this is that, if you apply the brakes before an obstacle, you will be able to brake more gently and still keep up your momentum, but without it affecting your balance.
If you do apply the brakes in the middle of negotiating an obstacle, it will put you off balance, you will lose traction and you will lose power and speed, all of which will make the overall passage through the obstacle much slower. In the worst case scenario, braking during an obstacle is also more likely to cause you to come off your bike.
As is the case with any high speed sport, you should be thinking ahead and anticipating the next turn or the next obstacle well before you actually get to it. Once you have mastered this, you will be able to brake earlier and you will then be well on your way to mastering the sport of mountain biking.
Tiredness is one of the biggest enemies of the mountain biker, especially fatigue in the legs and in the upper arms, but there are some techniques that you can adopt that will help stop you getting tired too quickly.
The first thing to bear in mind relates to the first point we made in this article about trying not to tense up. If you relax more when you ride, not only will it make you a better rider and reduce the risk of injury should you come off your bike, it will also improve your stamina. Quite simply, if your muscles are tensed up all the time, you are going to get tired very quickly and you will feel every bump and rut in the track as you pass over them.
The second thing to consider is the way that you grip the handlebars. You need to have a firm grip to keep your bike under control but, if you grip them too tight, you will be putting your hands and your arms under unnecessary stress. Loosen up a little, especially through the easier sections of a trail. It will give your hands and your arms a bit of a break and you won’t feel the shock from the bumps in the trail quite so much. The only time you should be gripping really hard is through tight corners and when you are riding over very rough terrain.
Our third point that will help stop you getting tired is that you should use your arms and legs as shock absorbers as you ride. Keep your legs bent at the knee and your arms bent slightly at the elbow and then, when you hit a bump, you won’t feel the shock through your body so badly. Also,while it may seem like great fun to hit every bump and rut in the trail, doing so will make you get tired faster. Avoid the uneven ground where you can, especially in the earlier stages of a ride.
We hope that you found this article useful and it helps you enjoy the best mountain bike experiences even more. Check out our mountain bike tips and tricks for more great advice to help improve your mountain bike skills.
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