The desire to descend quickly, climb better and clear every obstacle on the way to go faster might never become so overpowering than the days when your self-esteem receives a jolt on being dropped from the riding group. In fact, we might all have gone through the experience.
You will definitely need physical fitness, lots of riding practice and countless bailouts to become the hottest biking star on the neighborhood, but in this article I will explain the basic skills of mountain bikers that go a long way in establishing the budding mountain bikers.
Appropriate use of breaks or sound judgment of using breaks is extremely important in mountain biking, particularly while descending. Obviously, breaking is not required for stopping, but you have to apply right resistance in order to maintain your balance and descend faster.
The braking power of your bike depends on the weight of the tires. The weight distribution of bike is more on the front wheels during your descending phase. Therefore, the front-wheel brakes provide better control on your maneuvers without the risk of skidding. However, judicious braking is very important to prevent any chances of accidental tossing on the handlebars. You cannot completely neglect rear brakes and has to be applied in support of the front brakes. Shifting your weight on the rear wheels will improve the rear braking power and allow you to retain maximum control over your riding.
Skilled riders know how to balance their weight on both the wheels and apply right braking power on each wheel in order to prevent any possible “endo” over the handlebars or skidding down the riding course.
Use low gears: Low gears provide smooth riding while climbing uphill and improve your riding performance. However, the choice of right gear always depends on your stamina and the terrain or steepness of the climb. Make sure to reduce the pressure on the chain by easing your pedaling before shifting gears.
Stay seated: When you are using the road bike, your climbing performance may improve on standing out of the saddle, particularly on steep hills. However, you will lose traction on soiled terrains and thus, your performance will decline as rear tires will lose grip and spin out. So, it’s important to remain seated while climbing hills on tracks of loose terrain.
Lean forward: The distribution of weight shifts on the rear wheels while climbing hills and therefore, front wheels may pop up. Your performance will improve if you can balance the bike by leaning forward over the handlebars. You can slide forward on the saddle, if you can, to add more weight on the front wheels and balance the weight distribution of your bike.
Keep pedaling: You have to work harder while your performance will decline if you ride slower on rough trail sections. Therefore, you have to maintain the speed by constant pedaling during the rocky climbs.
Use big chainring: The bumpy descents may bounce off of your chains. Using the big ring during the descending phase prevent any such chain bouncing. The chains fully cover the teeth of big rings so that there is no chance of getting scratched from the teeth in case your legs are disengaged from the pedals due to any bump or crash.
Relax: Your riding performance will decline if you reflect your tension by locking elbows or clenching the grip. Your elbows should be relaxed enough to bend and absorb the shock during the bumpy descend. Firm grip on the bar is also necessary to remain balanced during the ride. Your body should steer along the bike, and shoulders should move to support your ride during the turns or obstacles.
Don’t oversteer or lose control: downhill mountain biking is just like skiing where you need to glide your body from side to side in order to maintain balance during the bumpy descents. Your bike will follow the motions of your body and move along the direction of your look. You are not required to pay too much attention to your steering, but have to maintain balance and direction of your descent.
Rise above the saddle: Your riding performance will improve on straddling the seat and using your legs and knees to absorb the shocks of bumpy or technical tracks. So, avoid sitting on the seats during your ride down the hills and prefer standing on the pedals.
Drop your saddle: You should consider lowering your saddle height by about 2 or 3 inches for riding down the technical descents. The lower saddle will reduce the center of gravity and improve your maneuvering capacity.
Keep the pedals parallel to the ground: Keeping pedals near the ground increases the chance of catching logs or small rocks that can create imbalances. So, keep your pedals parallel to the ground.
Stay focused: Quickly descending down the hills on technical tracks require your focus and attention. You need sufficient concentration to avoid every possible groove, rock, bump so that your bike attains complete harmony with the track. If your mind gets preoccupied with different thoughts, you might face the risk of losing track or crashing through the trees. Your concentration is the key to the single-track nirvana to gain self-realization at the finishing lines of your track.