12 Tips for Transitioning From Pavement to Dirt


Mountain riding is a very adventurous sport. However, if you are not prepared, you can join the club of unfortunate riders who get disheartened from the single mountain bike ride to such an extent that they never try this sport again.

You need to improve your knowledge about mountain biking if you are seriously thinking of experiencing the thrills of this adventure sport.

More: 10 Ways to Improve Your Mountain Biking

1. Get Comfortable Moving Around on the Bike

While road riders may only encounter a few sprints or climb requiring them to stand on the pedals, but most of the time they ride while being seated on the saddle. You will face a completely different kind of challenges when riding through the mountain trails. Mountain-bike  riders have to stand on the pedals during most of the riding periods to shift/redistribute their weight and perform various maneuvers during the climb or descent of the technical tracks.

2. Shift Your Weight Forward on Steep Climbs

You will get optimal traction on shifting your weight forward while climbing the steep tracks. This will improve your riding performance on loose terrains with rock dirt or sands as the rear wheels get a better grip with earth. You will also get better control because the backwards shift of your body weight will lift the front wheels of your bike.

More: Control the Bike for a Smooth Ride

3. Pedal, Pedal, Pedal

Most of the times, the mountain bike riders get tempted to slow down and stopping  pedaling to have manageable speed until they can clearly see the obstacles or tough sections. They wish to decide appropriate move after conforming the nature or difficulty levels of the obstacle, but in such scenarios, your speed may become very slow. You won’t be able to pass through the obstructions unless you can maneuver the stunts as performed by bike rider Danny Macaskill.

The important decisions about the appropriate course of action have to be decided on the fly without stopping the pedaling. The momentum generated by your pedaling will help you in passing through most of the obstacles. Well, your desire to challenge the winds may be fatal under some circumstances, and we will discuss the speed issues in more detail on another column.

More: Momentum Is Your Friend

4. Shift Your Weight Backwards on Steep Descents

Generally, the slope of roads is not steep enough to significantly influence the requirements of body weight redistribution or alignment for road riders while ascending or descending. On the contrary, the trails of mountains challenge the riders with extreme slopes requiring them to redistribute their weight according to the tracks. The mountain bike riders have to shift their body weight backwards in order to get better control and balance. You can see the pictures where the descending riders have shifted backwards to the extent that their saddles are visible.

5. Have confidence in your bike

The normal bikes are not equipped to sustain excessive impacts and therefore, the road riders try to avoid obstacles such as trash, potholes, rocks, road kill, etc. due to the fears of damaging fork, wheel and frame of their bike.

The mountain bikes are designed to bear the impact of rough terrain and shock absorbing system eliminate the impact resulting from the passing through these obstacles. In fact, you can easily leap through the cliffs on the trails. You have to trust the strength on your mountain bike. Your confidence in your bike will allow you to take on the obstacles on the tracks and improve your performance.

More: How to Handle Different Obstacles on the Bike

6. Wear and Tear are part of Mountain biking

The road bikers manage to keep their bicycle in fairly good condition for many years even with occasional crashes. You must understand that wear and tear is part of mountain biking, and the components of your bike will be misaligned or damaged over time. However, if you wish to retain the scratch-less shine of your components or bike, try riding through the groomed dirt trail or bike trails without any technical sections.

7. Passing through the obstacles can be a better option and fun for mountain bike riders

You have to change your attitude towards the obstacles on the trails. Most of the road riders always prefer to avoid obstacles. On the other hand, the rocks and uneven tracks serve as the playground equipments for mountain bike riders. Sometimes, passing through the obstacles are much better options with lots of fun and excitement.

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8. Some Trail Sections Are Perfectly Walkable

You must be prepared to walk through a few sections of the trail as you can save lots of time and energy by walking rather than riding. You may not be able to ride through every section of the track.  In fact, professional riders also get off their bikes and pass through such terrains by walking.

9. Expect Instability

Contrary to road riding, you will face loose terrain with gravel, rocks, tree roots and dirt on the mountain trails and therefore, sliding is normal as the ground moves under the wheels of your mountain bike.

Don’t try to bother the slides and over-correct the bike on such terrain, and you will ride perfectly on the trail. Your confidence will ensure smooth riding through difficult sections of the trail while the feelings of nervousness or anxiety from loose grounds will deteriorate your performance. You can remain calm and relaxed by accepting instability as part of mountain biking.

More: Floating is the Key to a Smooth Off-road Ride

10. Look Ahead at Least 15 Feet along the trail line

Most of the beginners get tempted to fix their line of sight on a particular obstacle until they cross it. Such temptations can significantly reduce your performance as you remain unprepared to face the next obstacle.

You can make better judgment regarding next obstacle by looking ahead at least 15 feet along the track line. This will allow you to make adjustments in response to the terrain of the trail. Rather than seeing through the trail to find your way, consider feeling the trails.

11. Practice to master your Skills

Practicing the difficult sections of the tracks will perfect your skills. You have to practice by repeating the difficult sections of the track unless you become too tired to perform any more maneuvering through the trails. Well, you can end your training sessions when your legs become too tired.

12. Ride with Experienced Riders

You might suffer disheartening experience on your initial outings for riding if the group members choose very difficult terrain for you.

More: 5 Things I Learned From Marla Streb

You must prefer the ride groups with supportive people who encourage the new beginners by selecting appropriate terrain. Their company will provide avenues of learning good riding skills and mastering the tricks of passing through small obstacles. Their help and support will ensure that you are not discouraged and quit mountain biking on the very first attempt. The basic skills acquired in their company will go a long way in establishing you as the professional rider.

Mountain biking can also serve as the cross training for road riders. The rough terrains will not only improve your overall fitness but increase your motivation levels by providing a very thrilling riding experience. Think of hitting the dirty terrains if smooth road riding has started boring you!