Regardless of your aspirations, you have to learn the basic skills before you can master the ultimate bike-handling skills. Whether you are riding for fitness, outdoor activities or professional training, your knowledge and experience will combine to make you a perfect biker. In this article, we are going to suggest 10 basic tips that can go a long way in improving your riding performance:
1. Maintain Your Bike
The unwanted noises from your bike resulting due to component misalignment will definitely distract your focus and attention. Sparing few minutes for your bike’s maintenance can relieve you from the discomforts of possible long walks or unfortunate injuries. You have to thoroughly check the bike as it will allow you to use the services of professional mechanics before riding the trails if you are unable to fix the misalignments.
Examine every component of your bike for cracked, broken, loose, worn-out components or anything that is not working properly. You should understand that even slight or minor problems detected during the checkup can create major troubles during the riding on the tracks. Make sure that bike set up suits your height. You will face problems in controlling or riding the bike when it’s too small or too big for you.
2. Ride with Experienced Riders
The exposure to good and experienced bikers will allow you to learn better riding habits, and you have to push extra hard to match up with them. This will create avenues of improvisation in your riding skills. You will learn by observing how they ride through rocky or rough terrains, position their bodies while descending downhill and manage to fix flat tires when they still face long rides to home.
You can explore the possibilities of the group ride at local bike shops in your area. The group riding will help in learning valuable riding skills.
3. Focus on long distance
If you concentrate on things that you need to avoid on the trails, most likely you will be hitting those rocks or trees instead of skipping them, especially on tracks with lots of roots and rocks. There is a scientific explanation to this phenomenon and concentrating on long distance known as target fixing helps you in smoothly avoiding obstacles on the track. Just concentrate on long distances along the track line during your ride for a smoother riding experience.
Whether you are riding a rigid conventional bike or the modern ones equipped with sophisticated suspensions, you must understand that your arms and legs serve as the best suspension during your ride. So, use your arms and legs in relaxed standing posture on the pedals to absorb the potholes or bumps during the ride. Once you master the intricacies of using your arms and hands as suspension, you will successfully glide over all the obstacles on your trail.
The technique allows you to relax your grip on the handlebars rather than tightly clinching over the handlebars. The white-knuckle death grips on the handlebar will lead to control difficulty and quicker fatigue, making your hands as part of the front wheel. You have to learn firm gripping of the handlebars without holding it too tight.
The good rotation of the cranks or so-called cadence determines your performance on the trail. The professional riders devote considerable efforts to develop the habits of good spin. Your jerky downwards stroke or square pedaling will waste your valuable energy by shifting your balance. Good spins help you in maintaining traction on loose terrains and provide efficient riding.
The good cadence habits involve full circled pedaling with the right gear. High gears will make it difficult to accelerate your bike while very low geared pedaling will just jerk your bike without effective acceleration. So, choose the right gear to synchronize with 70-100 pedaling RPMs and you will easily ride through the rough terrains and climb hills.
6. Learn the Wheelies
The funny tricks with wheelies or nose wheelies [back wheel off the ground] can provide very useful maneuvering while riding through the tracks. For example, you can use little wheelie to get sufficient lift of your front wheel for passing through the obstacles and then use nose wheelie so that the rear wheel also clear the objects. You will get a smoother ride on some sections of the trail simply by taking your weight off even if you haven’t perfected your skills to get the wheels off the ground. These maneuvers can be easily performed with clip-less pedals, but if you face any kinds of intimidation while learning, you can use platform pedals.
The basic wheelie combinations start with positioning of the pedals in up and down alignment and then shifting weight over the back wheel, pulling up the handlebars and pushing down the up pedal with a simultaneous motion in complete harmony. You can perform a wheelie with half pedal rotation or keep on pedaling to sustain the wheelie. Make sure that your hands can respond quickly to hit the rear brake if the front wheel is rising too much. Pulling the rear brake will lower your front wheel.
The nose wheelie is a bit more complicated. If you hit the front brake while performing the nose wheelie, you are going to be tossed up and therefore, you should ensure that there are no obstacles on the trail that can create problems for you. For performing a nose wheelie, you have to lean forward pushing on the handlebars while pulling up your feet in a simultaneous motion. There should be no problem in lifting your rear wheels even if you are using platform pedals.
The hopping and balancing skills determine your performance on the technical trails. You will effortlessly sustain your momentum during the ride if you can stop to stand still and accelerate again without putting down your foot.
The ability to become standstill and accelerate allows you to leap through the obstacles such as rocks, stairs and even people. The track stand skill involves pure stationary balancing of your bike without using brakes. Use your brake to slow down your speed to the extent possible for learning the skills of pure stationary balance. You can use the slight uphill slope during your initial practice. You will quickly learn the balancing skills by shifting your weight and moving the bike without the need to take advantage of any sloping terrain.
The hopping skills involve the use of same tricks but require lifting of both the wheels properly locked with brakes and maintaining your position over the bike. You have to balance the weight of your body between the wheels, crouch a bit and explode by pulling up your arms and legs to hop through the objects. Initially, it may be difficult, but practice will make you perfect, and you will easily hop objects while riding through the trails.
These little tricks will significantly enhance your bike-handling skills.
8. Take a Brake
The brakes can significantly improve your ability to control the bike and add to riding performance. You have to use both the brakes to your advantage. The novice riders fail to understand the potential of better braking in raising performance levels and consider only two options of either locking or not using at all. Just like the cars, brakes when locked hardly provide any control to the riders.
You have to discover the potential of the brakes. The front brake is more important when it comes to braking power, but too much braking while descending downhill or cornering can throw you on the bars. The skidding of the front wheel can also cause problems for you and therefore, you have to learn the moderation and modulation of brakes.
You will be able to turn with good speed on applying judicious braking before turning. You will lose performance on braking in the middle of the cornering process. Learn to feather the brakes with appropriate resistance while descending the trails to avoid locked up and have better control. Balanced descending will also protect the trails from excessive erosion.
9. Go Yonder
New trails and challenges will improve your riding skills and therefore, it’s very important to explore the new tracks when you have become familiar with local trails. Extend your scope and widen your horizons to hone your riding skills. New tracks will not only help you to become all rounder, but bring excitement in your riding.
10. Ride Everywhere
Practice will make you perfect. Your performance will increase if you spend more time on your bike. So, try to reinforce your riding skills by taking every possible challenge to outpace angry Chihuahuas, ride through up and down curbs or dodge potholes on your way to the mailbox, store and coffee shop.
You must understand that theoretical knowledge like reading books about cycling will not improve your skills unless you sufficiently practice to perfect your skills. You have sufficient information about basic riding skills, so, just get up for some riding experience. I will see your performance on the trails.