Bicycle Network: Skill Up
Mountain Biking 101
The occasional spill on your mountain bike might be half the fun, but with some tips from old-timer John Hardwick, you’ll avoid repeat performances
1. Look ahead
Don’t worry about the rock that is immediately in front of your wheel – it is too late to avoid it. Instead, scan the trail five or ten metres ahead. The faster you travel, the further you need to look.
2. Super suspension
No matter how much travel your new whiz-bang mountain bike has, there is no better suspension than your arms and legs. Lift your bum off the saddle when approaching a rough section of trail – especially on a downhill where you can keep your pedals level (at angles of nine o’clock and three o’clock) – and coast. Keep your elbows and knees bent as this allows the bike to move up and down with the terrain while your body remains suspended.
3. Weight management
Weight distribution is critical when mountain biking. You weigh a lot more than your bike, so where you place your weight has a huge bearing on what your bike does. On a steep downhill you need to get your body weight back. When it is really steep you need to let your seat pass between your legs and get your bum back behind the saddle.
People often say, ‘don’t use your front brake.’ In reality, it is the only one that will allow you to control your speed on a steep loose trail. The key to using your front brake is to balance it with the appropriate weight distribution. Moving your weight back counters the braking force and stops you going over the bars.
John Hardwick is the current editor of Mountain Biking Australia magazine and has been fixing, racing and writing about both road and mountain bikes for over 20 years.
This article first appeared in the February-March 2008 issue of Ride On Magazine.
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