Basic Mountain Biking Skills

This is the first in a series of articles about the skills and basic techniques needed when you start mountain biking. For those of you that are not beginners, this will probably sound very obvious, but for others it can be very useful.

Always commit to a track or line. You need to plan a few steps ahead and choose the line that you want to ride. Once you have chosen your line, be sure to follow it. If you hesitate because of fear of the obstacles ahead of you, frequently things go will go wrong. If you hesitate halfway through a complex section, you will surely fall off, this goes double when heading downhill.

Think 2 to 3 moves ahead. Don’t focus on a single obstacle for too long. Always be aware of the next obstacle.

Slide back on the saddle on steep descents. This will allow for more time to react to unforeseen obstacles. Besides, it doesn’t hurt as much if you fall off the back of a bike than flying over the handlebars.

Don’t just focus on the rider in front of you. You might end up hitting something that the rider in front of you had managed to avoid. Look 5 to 10 feet ahead of you. Don’t focus on your front wheel or the rear wheel of the rider in front of you.

Shift to an easier gear in patches of sand, water or mud. Transfer more weight to the back wheel by leaning back. This will allow your front tires to glide through the soft terrain. Don’t slam on the brakes or you will loose what little traction you have. Relax and spin your way through.

Don’t grip the handlebars too tight. This will only make your upper body tense and you will tire out faster. Loosen up but not too loose.

Do not put your thumb over the handle bar. This will make it easier for you too loose grip if you hit something unexpectedly.

Bend your elbows and loosen your shoulders. This will help to absorb the shocks that you will experience on the trail.

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