Mountain biking is very different than street cycling. If you’re struggling to switch gears between casual spins around the block and intense mountain trails, you’re not alone. Here are some tips to boost your mountain biking skills.
Pile on the Miles
Even if you can’t get out to the mountains every weekend, you can still continually improve your cycling skills. Take long Sunday rides around your neighborhood to build stamina, and look for every opportunity you can find to keep pedaling. Alternate short, fast rides to your local grocery store or coffee shop with leisurely family rides. Even just fifteen minutes a day will add up to big improvements in your overall abilities.
Mind Your Upper Body
Mountain biking isn’t just about your legs. Your arms and hands are important, too; after all, they’re how you hold onto the bike. Beginning riders often grip too tightly, leading to upper-body fatigue and inflexibility. Aim for a loose, relaxed grip that lets you easily control the bike without straining yourself.
If you want to improve, you have to work for it. Set goals for yourself: Bike an extra mile, push yourself hard for fifteen minutes or keep up with the pack in your local biking group. By keeping a goal in mind, you’ll be more motivated to work hard.
Stopping or slowing down is more complicated than just squeezing your brake handles. Most mountain bikes come with two brakes and a whole lot of options. By applying different pressure and timing, you can turn your ordinary bike into a trick-making machine – or at least a safer tool for riding. Experiment with using your brakes in different ways when going through a corner, hurtling downhill or trying to stop as quickly as possible. Practice on a familiar trail so you’ll be ready for whatever a new adventure can throw at you.
Don’t Let the Rhythm Get You
You want a smooth, easy rhythm as you push on your pedals. Jerky or angled movements take more energy and wear you out quickly. Work on keeping your strokes even and smooth – this is a great way to keep long city rides interesting when you’d really prefer to be out on the mountains. You’ll also need to work on matching your pedaling force and speed to your bike’s gear; a low gear requires a more powerful kick than a high gear. In fact, if you’re struggling with choosing the right gear, experiment with listening to your body and finding a gear setting that lets you keep a clean rhythm, no matter the angle of your uphill or downhill.
Pick Up Some Tricks
Hopping over obstacles, balancing on your pedals and popping a wheelie aren’t just playground tricks – they’re important tools for leveling up your mountain biking skills. Look up some YouTube tutorials or ask a more-experienced rider to help you master these tricks so you can navigate over logs or around rocks without falling off your bike.
Learn Your Bike
Don’t let small problems spiral into a big deal. Learn how to keep your bikes tires properly inflated and your brake chain properly oiled. A quick pre-ride check ensures your bike is ready for maximum performance and maximum safety.
Don’t Get Stuck in a Rut
You don’t want to spend all your time on the same three-mile trail by your house. Travel far and wide to shake up your routine and keep things interesting, even if that means driving a little further than necessary or building some work-out time into your next vacation. When you travel new trails, you improve your obstacle-navigation skills and find new love for your hobby.
Mountain biking is a fun way to stay in shape. With these tips, you can start building your mountain biking skills so you can get even more out of this great sport.