In this episode of the Mountain Bikes Apart podcast, we start a series of podcasts for new and beginner mountain bikers. In this first part of the series, we look at laying down some solid fundamentals when it comes to skills and bike handling.
This episode is perfect for those just starting out, but also for more experienced riders looking to pick up a few extra tips and ways to further improve their mountain bike riding.
We kick off this show with a good discussion about building and maintaining confidence on the bike, which is a big component of good riding. Commitment is perhaps the biggest thing when it comes to riding new, challenging trails and technical features, so we offer a few tips to make sure you don’t go into obstacles half-heartedly.
Riding with others that are better technical riders if perhaps the best of these, and following them into challenging obstacles can help get you past that crippling fear that comes from looking a section for too long. We’ve all been there!
Of course, it’s vital to have confidence in your bike as well your abilities, so we offer a few ways to make sure your steed is fit for the job, from checking that your bolts are tight to checking the function of your brakes too.
Railing corners and berms
Negotiating berms, turns and corners is a skill that most riders can improve, and is something that beginner riders often struggle with. Colin and I talk about some of the best ways to practise cornering and how to get both faster and smoother.
Body position and vision are some of the most important things to work on when it comes to cornering.
Looking where you want to enter and exit a turn will really help you position your bike just right to take a turn smoothly, and spotting the apex will help you know where to aim.
Leaning with your hips to position the bike below you will also help, as will ensuring your pedals are in the correct position. For instance, when taking a left hand corner, you’ll want your right foot down to avoid catching the inside pedal on the ground.
Carrying speed is the other big part of cornering that beginners often get wrong, and it’s critical to have this skill down if you’re going to be racing or simply want to improve flow out on the trail.
Getting the majority of your braking done before the turn is the take away here, so that you’re not trying to brake whilst lent over in the turn. You’ll then be able to properly use the momentum of the turn to maintain your speed without the need to expend energy pedalling.
When it comes to really making time in a race or getting up a steep and/or technical climb on the trail, climbing skills are paramount. Whilst it’s often fitness that can be the largest issue for newbie MTBers, there are some skills that can be used to improve climbing ability.
Using seated and standing climbing positions at the right time might be the biggest component of good climbing.
Standing climbing where you’re up on the pedals will help you put out more power when the trail is steep, but will limit the amount of traction you can maintain with the rear wheel.
Seated climbing on the other hand will keep pressure on the rear tyre and save energy, but isn’t as good for quick bursts of speed.
You can perch on the front or nose of the saddle to get the benefits of both, and this position is particularly useful on short and loose climbs, but can be a little uncomfortable on longer ones, where you’re best using a combination of sitting and standing.
New riders will also really benefit from learning to pace properly, especially on longer climbs. Try not to launch into longer climbs to quickly, instead riding smoothly and within yourself so that you can speed up towards the top if need be.
You always need to keep some energy in reserve in case the trail gets steeper and more technical!
Get in touch!
We want to know what you’d like to hear in future episodes, as well as what you thought about this show! Get in touch via the website, on Twitter where Colin is @colinmcgray and I’m @bytombell, or on my website at tombell.co. Catch you soon on the next episode!