Whenever you’re learning a new skill, such as swimming, dancing, or playing drums, there’s a beginner level that you need to know before moving on to more advanced and highly technical skills. It’s quite similar to mountain biking.
You need to learn basic mountain biking skills since this will be the foundation as you trek towards unknown and unchartered biking territories.
You might ask if professional mountain bikers are born, well, I don’t think so. Start with baby steps before conquering Mt. Everest.
- 1 Basic Mountain Biking Skills
- 2 Improving Your Skills
Basic Mountain Biking Skills
Here are some basic mountain biking skills you need to start.
The first thing you should check is to make sure the seat has a correct position in proportion to your height. The seat height should be in level with your hip bones.
Mount Your Bike
First-time bikers have certain awkwardness climbing their bike. To get over the stiffness – hold the bike at a lower angle before stepping through the frame.
Step On The Pedal
A basic skill in mountain biking is to practice how to pedal. Start by depressing the brake levers, with a pedal positioned at the top. Stand up then lean forward as you release the brakes, then slowly start pedaling before sitting back on the saddle.
As you pedal, your arms should be bent, with your leg around eighty percent extended on your every stroke. Sit relaxed, with your body lose and practice pedaling around, without having your knees and elbows getting locked.
Get used to shifting the gears on your mountain bike as you ride along different roads and terrains. Low gears let you pedal much easier, which you should use to climb. You should shift the gear before you hit the climb, rather than in the middle of steep ascend. High gears let you pedal harder, though it let you run faster which you can use on smooth and flat surfaces.
Body Position Standing
For your primary standing position, stand up and practice standing on the pedals, while it’s in a straight horizontal position. Also, try switching your body at the rear of the frame (while standing). Practice on this position, as you learn to clear some rough patch or rugged trail. When you stand, bend your knees slightly, with the saddle between your legs.
Pedal While Standing
Practice pedaling while standing on your bike. Get off the saddle, and then on your primary standing position, start pedaling, changing gears, from low gears on a climb, and high gears on flat surfaces.
Jumping On A Curb
An essential skill you must develop is to practice standing while cruising at different speeds off a curb, taking in the shock of the jump on your legs and arms, until you feel comfortable.
Another skill to build is to practice pushing down on handlebars to put a spring at the front tires, then you push your body from your arms, in return pulling the handlebars with your hands, lifting the front wheel as it approaches the curb.
Try to lighten the weight on the pedal, letting the rear come up the curb, absorbing the hit on your legs. Get comfortable while doing this.
Improving Your Skills
Improving your mountain biking skills requires commitment from your part; since when you go on the road it will just be you and your bike.
No one can hold the bike for you when you go uphill and no one will catch you when you crash down the bush.
However, there’s a sense of relief and accomplishment when you improve on a skill. It’s like moving a level up, you achieve a belt and improve on that until you arrive to become an expert.
Though advancement in mountain biking is a sum of everything else, other than sitting on the saddle and pedaling, you need to bring all of that to the table to fast-track your skill enhancement. Here are some tips for you to further improve in mountain biking
Maintenance of your mountain bike is the first order of business if you want to improve on your biking skills. After all, how can you improve on the sport, if your bike continuously has a flat tire, loosen chains, brake failures, or jerky saddle?
Basic maintenance of the bike also includes cleaning the whole bike that means you have to wash all the parts found on the underside and overside of the bike. Maintenance also includes applying lubricants on the chains, changing tires, adjusting the brakes, and tightening of any other screws.
You definitely don’t want to feel the inconvenience of being sidetracked while riding on a group because your pedal disengaged. It’s better to provide preventive maintenance on every aspect of your bike before something untoward happens.
Target Fixation Skill
Perhaps one of the skills you need to learn as soon as possible is ‘target fixation’. When you go on a trek, you will most likely get through humps, rocks, and vines; however, the more you try to dodge and sidestep these small obstructions, the more likely you will hit them.
What you need to do is to find and establish a line in front of you, and then follow that line. This process is called target fixation, something which surfers, motorcyclists, and fighter pilots use. The explanation here is that the more you focus only on your line target, the more the small obstructions on your path will diminish, eventually giving you a much smoother ride all the way to your destination.
Relax Your Grip
In improving your skills, it will not help if you will be too rigid on your bike where your elbows locked and you hold the handlebars with a tight grip. Just bend your elbows and relax your hold, in this way you can respond comfortably to the bumps and grind on the road.
They say the best suspension you have in your mountain bike is your arms (and your legs). Just let the bike move with you as you glide over rough roads and rugged surfaces.
Having a relaxed stand – will also help in easing out the stress in your body, in the process, slowing down the fatigue in your body. A more calm and collected approach gives you more control over your bike.
Join a Mountain Biking Groups
Find a group of mountain bike riders to help you advance your skills. You can easily find meet up groups to share the passion and interest in the sport. The best thing about mountain biking is that you can always find a group in your local community that you can join.
You can search online since most mountain bikers publish their organization meetings and scheduled trek on a blog, website, or forum. Also, you can find bike clubs at your company, university, or church. Even so, find a friend or two and start your own group. Mountain biking will be more enjoyable if you can do it with others.
Learn From Advanced Mountain Bikers
They say there’s no better way to improve in ping pong than play with someone that will continuously smash the ball in your direction. I think this also applies to other sports. You need to do the same thing in mountain biking. The fastest way to improve your mountain biking skills is to learn from the best and most experienced bikers.
Observe how other riders mount their bike, sat on the saddle, and stand on the pedal. Take note of how they achieve a nice spin, how they climb uphill, and how they go downhill. Practice and learn biking habits from skilled riders.
These are the basic steps you can do immediately to improve your intermediate skills. You can further move to more technical skills once you feel you’ve made progress and feel ready for more advanced techniques.