Starting your mountain bike adventure

Starting your mountain bike adventure

Starting your mountain bike adventure

mountain bike coaching

You don’t need mountains to go mountain biking. Any off-road trail can be an exciting adventure, a brilliant way of seeing our beautiful country, at the same time as getting fit.

Mountain biking is an exhilarating sport which everyone can enjoy. With some basic skills in your tool kit you can really make the most of your new-found hobby! Your position on the bike will make a big difference to how the bike handles and how you feel on the bike.

Mountain bike trail surfaces can include rocks, roots, ruts, sand or mud. The variable terrain and the obstacles are all part of the fun, but can be unnerving to beginners. Being in the right body position helps you get through tricky sections of trail.

The first thing you need to master is the ‘ready’ or ‘attack’ position.

mountain bike beginners coaching

This is the position you will use when going down singletrack trails to keep your feet out of the way of obstacles but also to allow the bike to move underneath you and grip the ground.

Ready position:

  1. Body weight:You want to stay centered over the bike laterally, but keep your weight shifted back over the rear wheel. (The steeper the descent, the further back you shift your weight).
  2. Bum:Off the saddle this allows the bike to move underneath you. Also creating a wider base for you to move around the bike than when you’re sitting down.
  3. Feet:Keep your pedals level, heels down pushing the pedals forward. This keeps your weight balanced and helps ensure you don’t catch a pedal on a rock.
  4. Arms and legs:Keep them loose – they’re your shock absorbers. Your knees and elbows should be bent. Staying relaxed and loose on the bike will also help you react quicker.
  5. Hands:Maintain a light grip on the handlebar, don’t tense through your shoulders. No death grip!
  6. Head and eyes:You should be looking down the trail at least 3 metres ahead so you can react to the changes in the trail.
  7. Fingers: Feathering your brakes with one finger, trying not to over brake in the corners.

Picking a Line:

The rougher the terrain, the more you have to let the bike float underneath you, this is where keeping in mind the points above and staying in the ready position will help you feel relaxed and comfortable on the bike. Your wheels will move in different directions as you hit bumps, and that’s OK. Just keep your body upright, relax your grip and keep the bike pointed down the trail.

Mountain bike coaching for beginners

Another key point is to look where you want to go, not at the things you want to avoid!

Pick the path of least resistance down the trail. The hazards you will need to watch out for will depend on your skill level. A log that will stop one cyclist may be a fun bunnyhop for another. Generally, look for loose rocks, deep sand, water, wet roots, logs and other trail users and animals.

mountain bike coaching

Pick your line: scan ahead for hazards by looking about 3 – 7 metres down the trail. Then, move your eyes back toward your tire. Doing this up-and-back action allows your eyes to take in lots of information. Knowing hazards ahead of time can help you adjust your balance and pick a line around them.

Braking

Braking on a mountain bike should be a controlled and considered. Most of your control braking power comes from your front brake, but grabbing a handful of front brake will send you doing cartwheels. Instead, lightly feather the brakes, and do so evenly on the front and back brakes. Avoid sudden, fast squeezes to help prevent skidding.

When braking stay in the ready position. Move your hips back, drop your heels down and keep a slight bend in your knees and elbows.

When to Brake

When approaching a turn, brake before you hit the turn, and then let your momentum carry you through. This allows you to focus on your technique through the turn and exit the turn with speed. Then apply the brakes ready for the next trail obstacle.

MTB cornering

Momentum is your friend when getting up and over obstacles on the trail. Keep your momentum and you will often roll over or off certain features easily, if in doubt stop and look at the feature before riding it.

I hope you have enjoyed this article on body position and braking for beginner mountain bikers. If you would like to improve your mountain biking, like with any sport, getting a coach can mean you improve quicker and don’t pick up so many bad habits.

Check out our coaching options here.

How to Help Combat the Most Common Mountain Bike Injuries

How to Help Combat the Most Common Mountain Bike Injuries

“During the past three years, researchers from Napier University have been conducting a massive research project with Enduro World Series participants collecting information about mountain bike injuries, and more importantly how to prevent them. “The survey was carried out by Sports Scientist Dr Debbie Palmer of Edinburgh Napier University and covers the full breadth of participation, from our recreational rider base right through to the upper echelons of elite athletes.”

The report comprises of two separate pieces of research. The first questioned 2,000 EWS-racing athletes, from 46 countries, across 10 EWS races, recording how, when, and where they were injured. Highlights include the most frequently occurring injuries and those injuries that resulted in the most days spent off the bike recovering.

The findings are rather fascinating which low concussion rates and more injuries during the 2016 XC mountain bike race in RIO in 2016 than in the Enduro World Series events!

enduro world series report findingsRead the full report here.

It doesn’t come as a surprise that shoulder and clavicular injuries are the most common. These injuries typically involve a long recovery – 25 days on average.

So, how can enduro rider’s improve their strength around their shoulders to decrease this injury risk.

 

(Picture thanks to EWS report)

What makes up your shoulder?

The shoulder is an extremely complex joint made up of three bones: the clavicle (collarbone), the scapula (shoulder blade), and the humerus (upper arm) as well as the associated muscles, ligaments and tendons.

The humerus loosely attaches to the scapula in a ball and socket joint that allows the arm to rotate in a circular manner or to hinge up and away from the body. The joint must be mobile enough to do a wide range of dynamic movements (like throwing), but also stable enough to lift heavy objects and push and pull. This compromise between mobility and stability means the muscles need to be strong and stable to protect this joint.

The major muscles involved with movement of the shoulder are the four rotator cuff muscles and the deltoid. These muscles allow the upper arm to rotate in and out, move forward, out to the side, and behind the back.  Tendons are the bands of fibrous connective tissue that attach these muscles to the humerus.

Here are our top 5 shoulder stability exercises to help you combat those injuries.

  1. Rotator Cuff External Rotation with Band
    1. Palms facing up hold the band out in front of you
    2. Keep your elbows tucked in
    3. Forearms parallel to the ground
    4. Breath in, on the exhale open the band to the side
    5. Hold for the inhale
    6. Exhale bring arms back to the centre
    7. Repeat 5 times
      1. To increase strength add in pulses once the band is opened to the side

rotator cuff exercise

  1. High to Low Row
    1. Attach a resistance band to something sturdy at or above shoulder height. Be sure it is secure so it doesn’t come lose when you pull on it
    2. Get down on one knee so the knee opposite the outstretched arm is raised. Your body and lowered knee should be aligned. Rest your other hand on your raised knee
    3. Holding the band securely with your arm outstretched, pull your elbow toward your body. Keep your back straight and squeeze your shoulder blades together and down as you pull. Your body should not move or twist with your arm, engage your core muscles to stop this from happening
    4. Return to start and repeat 3 sets of 10
  1. Reverse Fly
    1. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and your knees slightly bent. Keep your back straight and bend forward slightly at the waist
    2. With a light weight (bean cans of full water bottles will do) in each hand, extend your arms and raise them away from your body.
    3. Do not lock your elbow. Squeeze your shoulder blades together as you do so.
    4. Do not raise your arms above shoulder height
    5. Return to start and repeat 3 sets of 10

 

4. Press Up (Bi-cep)

    1. Start standing, bend your knees and put your hands on the floor so they are under your shoulders
    2. Lift your knees off the floor so you are in a sloping position, don’t stick your bum in the air or let your hips drop (keep your knees on the floor for a modified box press up)
    3. Hands facing forward slowly lower your nose towards the floor, elbows moving outwards
    4. Engage your core, (pull your belly button towards your spine) to help protect your lower back
    5. Inhale at the bottom, exhale and push yourself back up into the sloping position

5. Press Up (tri-cep)

    1. Start standing, bend your knees and put your hands on the floor so they are under your shoulders
    2. Lift your knees off the floor so you are in a sloping position, don’t stick your bum in the air or let your hips drop (keep your knees on the floor for a modified box press up)
    3. Hands facing forward slowly lower your nose towards the floor, elbows moving towards your hips, arms grazing the side of your body
    4. Engage your core, (pull your belly button towards your spine) to help protect your lower back
    5. Inhale at the bottom, exhale and push yourself back up into the sloping position

press up

 

 

Owen Orton

I recently took part in a weekend session with beyond the Mud and a guided Marmalade MTB tour (with Beyond The Mud Coaching).

I think I am a proficient mountain biker with dubious fitness levels. Hannah effectively coached a group of us with all abilities without detracting from each other’s enjoyment and progression from each of the sessions. The sessions were really fun and relaxed, and the food was fantastic.

I can highly recommend Hannah and Beyond The Mud to all levels of mountain biker abilities. There is always a lesson to be learnt – mine was heals down and push those bars away when going over jumps n bumps

Mark Bennett

I have just had an amazing couple of days on Beyond the Mud‘s Mountain Bike Coaching Weekend in the Surrey Hills. One day of Hannah’s excellent coaching that catered for all levels of ability and a second day of superb guided riding provided by Paul of Marmalade MTB. The combination of training and coaching followed by the ability to put new found skills into practice on some of the best MTB trails in the South of England was perfect. I was definitely riding more confidently and on trails that I would never have ridden previously.

I’m looking forward to more coaching and guided riding in the future…

Candy

What a great weekend thank you Hannah for specially helping me. I do feel much more confident now!!! And thanks to Paul who helped to set up my bike and guiding me. What a lovely bunch of people on the course.Thanks for your help and encouragement, guys, when I was flagging! The food was lovely too.Fantastic way to spend a weekend in glorious countryside! 🚴‍♀️