If this will be your first winter season of mountain biking, you’re in for some different conditions to what you may have experienced during the summer. Even if you’re a seasoned mtb rider, it never hurts to remind yourself of the essentials when it comes to tackling wet and muddy trails.
Luckily, off-road.cc has some handy tips to help ensure you stay safe and enjoy those winter trails. Don’t forget that we also run mtb courses in South Wales, so come and see us if you want some extra tuition and guidance.
The first piece of advice is to remember to look up. Sounds simple, doesn’t it? But it’s easy to get distracted by puddles or particularly muddy stretches of track. Just remember that you need to keep your eyes on where you want to go though.
The other reason this is important is because it keeps your weight centred on the bike. This is really important when you’re tackling muddy trails, as too much weight front or back will either cause your wheels to dig into the mud or to slide out.
Braking can be a tricky skill to master on a mountain bike, but it’s really important that you give it extra thought when it’s muddy. Start braking earlier than you would in dry conditions and with less power to prevent your wheels from locking up and sliding.
If you think you’ll need some motivation to keep riding during the winter months, think about signing up for an event or two in the spring. That will give you something to aim for and could provide the extra push you need to get out on those trails when the weather is a little less inviting.
If you’re into mountain biking, you’ll know who Danny MacAskill is. If you’re not, then a quick Google search of his name will throw up a host of YouTube videos where he performs unbelievable mountain biking stunts, usually in spectacular locations.
He certainly knows his stuff when it comes to mountain biking, so it’s something of a treat to hear what he thinks are some of the top pieces of gear out there at the moment.
In an interview with T3, he recently gave a glimpse of his essential mtb kit – it’s certainly interesting to see what he splashes out on and where he economises a bit more.
At the top of the list is, of course, the bike he rides. With a price tag of nearly £6,000 this is out of reach for most of us! His preferred wheels are the Santa Cruz 5010CC X01, which he described as “the perfect UK mountain bike”.
Danny explained that “with a 130mm travel front and rear, it means that you can climb to the top of any mountain and take on any sort of downhill”. He also revealed that he likes the fact it doesn’t have much suspension, and that this means you have to “work with the bike to get it down the trails”.
Another essential piece of kit for Danny is his camera. His first choice is a GoPro Hero 7, which is always mounted on his helmet.
He revealed that he never rides without it because it’s a great chance to “passively film content”, and it means you can prove the crazy stunts you pull off (or share the crashes) with anyone who doesn’t believe you.
When you’re heading out for a day on the trails you’ll need some kind of backpack to carry all your essentials. The one recommended by Danny is the Evoc Enduro 16l backpack, because it not only has space for everything you’ll need when you’re riding in remote locations, but also has a back protector.
And what should you be carrying in your pack when you’re out mountain biking? Water, food and the tools you’ll need to fix your bike if it picks up some damage.
He also has some advice for anyone who wants to feel a difference on the trails without spending too much money on new kit – pick up the right pair of shoes. His choice is a pair of Five Ten Adidas Free Rider Pro trainers. “They’re generally really breathable as well as being nice and lightweight. They will literally transform your riding,” he asserted.
At around £100 a pair, they’re not the most expensive piece of mtb kit you’re going to buy, so could be a good place to start if you’re just getting going in the sport. Of course, if you’re new to mountain biking it’s best to do some beginner’s mountain bike coaching to make sure you’re prepared for what you’ll encounter on the trails.
With the cold weather on the way, one piece of kit you don’t want to be without is your gloves When choosing think about their warmth, breathability and waterproofing. If you get cold easily, you may decide to sacrifice breathability for warmer, more waterproof gloves for instance.
There’s no doubt that winter is on its way. The nights are starting to draw in. The trees are turning all kinds of pretty golden and red colours and there is a definite chill in the air at times. As the weather worsens, it can be easy to leave your bike in the garage, promising yourself you’ll hit the trails again when the weather warms up.
But Cycling Weekly has recently offered some advice on how you can remain motivated to get in the saddle during the winter, and stay in shape in the coming months.
If you’ve been regularly riding all summer, including in competitions, the first top tip is to give your body a proper break. Take two weeks or so out of the saddle to relax and let your body recover from the busy mtb season.
Another thing you can do is sign up for a couple of mountain biking events in the spring. This will give you a goal to work towards and encourage you to go out for rides in the depths of winter.
This time of the year is also a great opportunity to introduce new things to your training regime. Book some mtb coaching to get some fresh ideas, for example. The publication suggested that this is a good time to bring strength-based exercise into your regime.
Building up your overall strength can help address imbalances in your body, reducing the risk of injury once you hit the trails again.
Maintaining your strength is also important as you get older, with a recent report by the Department of Health and Social Care highlighting the need to stay strong as you age to prevent falls and other injuries.
Pilates is another great way to keep in shape all year round, and it’s also perfect for off the bike training for cyclists. Found out more on our pilates page, here!
Cyclists looking for great places to go on mountain bike weekends might be tempted to head to Wales after an award-winning biking family has recently opened new tracks in Snowdonia.
Rachel, Dan and Gee Atherton have spent £2 million buying a practise track at the Dyfi Bike Park near Machynlleth, Powys – and it has certainly paid off, as the family have collected eight world titles and 49 world cups over the years.
They have been based at the site since 2014, having borrowed the huge amount of money from a bank to create the cycle park in Wales’ famous mountain range, BBC News reported.
Dan, 37, told the news provider: “I had always dreamed of finding a forest with this much potential. We have an amazing blank canvas with 650 acres of forest.”
The site provides great downhill experiences, dropping from the 660m Tarren y Gesail Mountain through to sea level at the bottom. This has, no doubt, been helping 31-year-old Rachel achieve five downhill championships, as well as six world cup wins.
The family now hopes other biking enthusiasts will share their passion at Dyfi Bike Park, located in the beautiful Esgair Forest, along with them.
On the website for the park, Dan wrote the area offers the “perfect mix of max elevation with long descents and really varied terrain”.
According to the world-champion, the site, which has now opened its first four black trails, boasts “some of the most diverse tracks you can imagine”.
Keeping active is important as we get older but often people forget about strength training and building muscle in favour of cardiovascular exercise like running, swimming, rowing and so on.
Ideally, you should aim to focus on both if you can – something that has just been reiterated by the UK chief medical officers and the Department of Health and Social Care, which has just published new physical activity guidelines that emphasise the importance of building strength and balance.
The guidelines haven’t been updated since 2011 and now recommend that adults should do strength-based exercises at least twice a week to help delay the natural decline in bone density and muscle mass that typically starts at around 50 years old. The overall message has stayed the same, however – any activity is better than doing none at all and more activity is even better than that.
It’s thought that a drop in muscle mass and bone density is one of the main reasons why older people lose their ability to do daily tasks with ease, with falls the main reason that people above a certain age are taken to hospital. This could be avoided, however, through the likes of carrying heavy shopping, brisk walking, swimming, gardening and taking the stairs.
Physical activity can also help protect against chronic health conditions like type 2 diabetes (reducing the risk by 40 per cent), coronary heart disease (35 per cent) and depression (30 per cent).
The guidance also includes safe levels of activity for both pregnant women and new mothers, with a moderate amount of exercise for the latter proven to help them ease back pain, regain strength and reduce the chances of developing gestational diabetes.
“Physical activity is an under-appreciated asset in our clinical arsenal. It is cheap and brings a long list of health benefits.
“As we age, our muscles weaken and we can become stiff, leading to falls and difficulty performing everyday activities. Physical activity can prevent fragility and support mobility in old age. By keeping active, both throughout the day and also through hobbies, we can slow muscle and bone decline, ultimately keeping us independent for longer,” Dame Sally Davies, chief medical officer for England, said.
When it comes to strength training, going for Pilates in Waterlooville or your local area could prove particularly beneficial. This practice aims to strengthen the entire body in a balanced way, with emphasis on core strength as a way of improving general health and wellbeing.
It is suitable for people of all ages and levels of ability, so don’t worry if you’re a complete beginner… you’ll soon pick it up. Regular practice can help improve your posture, muscle tone and balance, while also relieving any stress and tension you may be experiencing.