Drop offs come in all shapes and sizes, from rock steps, tree stumps/roots or purpose-built obstacles. Learning to negotiate these by jumping will help your trail flow and improve your riding.
At some point on red graded trails you will come across a drop off. In some cases these can be rolled, but sometimes and to add some fun they will need to be jumped. Rolling will only work with smaller drops. The bigger the drop the bigger the risk of catching your chainring and going for flying lessons, something we all try to avoid!!
Start with learning how to manual on a flat field (video on its way) then progress to little curb sized drop offs where if you get it wrong it won’t matter too much.
Enter at jogging pace
Spot your exit point
Pump down and back as you manual off the lip of the drop off, pushing the bike forwards
Try and land two wheels at the same time, if you are landing onto a downward slope your front wheel may get there first
Remember to keep your weight down and back, heels down
Once you have got your manual technique sorted on smaller drop offs it’s time to look at bigger drops. With more speed you can just slide your weight back and need less pump to get you over the drop. These will usually require a bit more speed and the entry and exit lines become very important. As you enter the drop off you need to commit, come off the brakes and spot your landing. On exiting let the bike land before cornering or braking, in an ideal world, look where you want to go!
Try walking a new line before riding it so you can spot the best line through the feature.
Thank you for reading, check back for more posts on mountain biking and Pilates soon!
Learning to ride a mountain bike is easy. Learning to ride a mountain bike really well is harder and takes practise and patients. However, get the basics right at the start and you’ll enjoy every minute you ever spend on your mountain bike.
Once you have the basic principles of riding a bike like, how to brake and use the gears. There is a whole world of new skills to learn that you can develop to take your riding further and faster.
There are two key elements to mountain biking, physical effort and mental awareness. It’s only when you combine them together that you can effectively start pushing your riding boundaries to new heights.
Mountain biking involves your entire body. Your core muscles, back, shoulders and arms all play a role alongside your legs and lungs. Mountain biking is a great cardio workout and to a certain extent is non load bearing on your joints which is great! This changes when you start jumping of course!
This is possibly the harder part. Mountain biking can be as much a mental game as a physical one. The belief in your own skill and ability holds a lot of riders back and it’s worth working on your mental ability to flow through a trail as much as the physical.
This is true for a lot of ‘extreme’ sports knowing what you are capable of and how far you can push your own limits is what keeps us safe and that mental ability to read a situation and keep moving forward and commit is key to riding a mountain bike smoothly.
Top tips for starting out mountain biking.
Relax, breathe and smile!
This is really important, to enable you to flow through the trail. Stiffen up and grip hard on those bars and you make your life a lot harder. Try to breathe consistent steady breaths from your rib cage. Visualise what it will feel like to nail the section of trail in front of you.
Look where you want to go…
You don’t find a lot of straight, smooth trails when mountain biking. Every trail evolves and you need to ‘read’ the sections as they approach. To do this you need your eyes up looking where you want to go. Pick the smoothest line of travel where possible to allow the bike to flow and maintain traction and speed.
Effective pedalling comes from being able to pedal in circles think about scraping your foot backwards, like your wiping something off your shoe, at the bottom of the pedal stroke and flicking your ankle as you return to the top of the revolution.
Cadence is also important don’t plummet to your lowest gear at the sign of an incline instead try and keep your feet moving at the same pace and when you cannot maintain your rpm (revolutions per minute) change gear.
The front and rear wheels both deliver traction, this keeps you gripping the floor and driving the bike forwards. On flat ground you’ll be sat on the saddle or up in the neutral or ‘ready position’ this is where you pedals are level (unless you are pedalling of course) your knees and elbows are bent and fingers are covering the brakes. In this position you are ‘ready’ for trail features with your feet well away from tree stumps etc… Both wheels are weighted due to your position over the centre of the bike. As the terrain changes from flat to up or downhill, you’ll need to adapt the position to slightly further back. For climbing this works in the opposite direction often you have to push more weight through your arms to maintain traction on the front wheel, remember not to unweight the back wheel or you will slip out.
You’ll need to constantly adapt the position as you feel the grip or lack of it from each tyre and make the necessary body adjustments to suit. Relaxing and looking where you are going help to make this achievable.
Lower pressures will provide more grip and when you are leaning your bike into a corner or tackling rooty trails, grip is king. Running too little pressure will expose your rims to possible damage and snake bite punctures. It can also cause tyre sidewalls to fold and deflect. More air pressure makes the tyres feel like they run faster, it will be easier to climb but you will lose a little grip.
Brakes – you have two, use them both!
As a child you probably learnt to only use your back brake, maybe you used your front once and ended up in a heap. Although your back break is needed to control your speed your control comes from the front brake on a mountain bike. This becomes especially important on steep terrain when too much back brake allows the bike to skip sideways you need to be using that front brake for traction and control.
As part of our ’12 days of Christmas’ we thought it would be great to share some trail side tips! So please sit back and enjoy as Sean from Marmalade MTB shows us how to repair a split in your tyre wall with none other than a toothpaste tube! Trail side repairs can help get you out of a sticky situation or a long, long, long walk to the car!
Hiring a bike is always an option when going abroad, but hire costs can be expensive and if you are like me your faithful bike is set up how you like it and no ‘hire’ bike can quite compare. Fortunately, there are many ways to take your bike abroad – here are just a few options to consider.
This post comes on a day when I have spent, the best part of the day packing up my bike ready to fly to Romania for the Carpathian Stage Race. I am flying with my bike and borrowed a bike bag of a friend. It’s a Evoc bag with wheels making life easier to wheel it about. There are other ways to travel abroad with your bike so below is some information on what else you could do:
Travelling by car
If you’re travelling abroad by car, you could consider getting a bicycle rack fitted. A bicycle rack can be fitted on the roof or on the boot of your car. Both types of rack have their advantages and disadvantages – roof racks allow easy access to the boot but will add height to your vehicle, whilst boot racks won’t affect the height of your vehicle but will limit access to the boot. Consider which one is more practical for you.
If you like to go on family bike trips abroad, you could even consider investing a caravan or a motor home that will allow to carry multiple bicycles. Caravans could allow accommodation on the move as well, saving you money on hotels. You can look into local caravan storage if you don’t have space outside your home to park your caravan and you can even rent out your caravan when not using it to make some extra money. Pickup trucks and vans are other good options for carrying multiple bike racks.
Travelling by Eurostar
An alternative option could be to take the Eurostar to Europe. By booking ahead, you can reserve a space for your bike on the same train as you – not booking ahead could mean waiting for your bike for several hours on the other end whilst an available space is found. There’s a fee of £30 for taking you bike on the Eurostar. If you’ll willing to bag or box up you bike, it will count as oversized luggage and only cost you £25 – however this can entail dismantling your bike.
Travelling by air
It’s also possible to fly with a bike, which could be useful if you’ve got plans for a cycle trip further afield. Different airlines charge different rates for taking a bike – in some cases it’s free, whilst the likes of Ryanair and Easyjet charge £15. Most airlines require you to bag or box up your bike. Bagging it up in a see-through bike bagBox My Wheels are also a great option, where you hire a bike box for your trip.
Plan ahead when getting to an airport – if you’re taking the train to an airport and need to go via the London Underground, you may find that some lines don’t permit you to bring a bike.
Travelling by ferry
Taking a ferry is one of the more convenient methods of travelling abroad by bike. Most ferry operators charge only £5 and it’s a simple case of rolling it on and locking it up. If you’re taking a foot passenger ferry, be wary that your bike could be stored on the outside of the boat exposed to the elements, so make sure it’s well locked and consider taking off any luggage you may have with you.