If riding a bike is one of your favorite things to do, but you’re looking for something new, maybe mountain bike riding is your next step.
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However, there’s a bit more to riding in the dirt or along the trails, so there are a few mountain biking basic skills you should be aware of before you get started.
These skills are best practiced if you can find somewhere with a steep hill. Your best chances are a local park or bushland – have a look around your neighborhood and you should be able to find a nice hilly area to starting working on your skills.
Get Familiar With Your Pedals
The best way to get used to working with your pedals is by sitting on your bike with one foot on the ground. Practice moving your foot away from the pedal, and then move onto releasing and replacing your foot whilst pedalling. If you have a toe clip, or a clip less type foot pedal, you’re probably going to need to allow for a bit longer to practice.
When on your mountain bike, you never want to be in a situation where your knees or elbows are locked, so take some time to teach yourself to relax while you sit and pedal. Make sure your seat height is correct – you want your leg to be extended between 70 and 90 per cent when your reach the bottom of your stroke. Also, make sure your arms are slightly bent – this will help you keep better control.
Learn Your Gears
As your terrain will be much rougher when mountain biking, you’re going to need to be more aware of your gears. As a rule – if you’re working up a hill, you’ll want to use a lower gear, which requires less pedaling and will help you up the hill on your cycle. Some quick advice on hills – be sure to change gears before you hit the hill, rather than while you’re on it. If you want more speed – a higher gear will provide this, but will require more work to pedal.
Make sure you are comfortable with coasting on your bike – stand up on your pedals, off your seat. Be sure to keep your arms bent and your knees unlocked. Also, have a play around with keeping your body weighted over the rear end of your bike.
Get Up And Pedal!
One of the key skills to mountain biking is being able to stand up and pedal. Lift yourself up off your seat, and work on your balance while you work the pedals. Be sure to practice in all situations – flat or hilly ground, high or low gears – this way you’ll be prepared for whatever terrain you face.
Take On The Curbs
Find a curb you can practice on, and work on dropping off it. Start at a slow speed, and practice coasting along, and maintaining control as you drop to the lower level. As you start to master it, you can work up to higher speeds until you feel totally comfortable.
The last word
While these skills might be slow going in the beginning, your practice will pay off and soon they will become second nature. With these techniques down pat, you’ll be set to face anything that might come your way when you get out there and hit the trail.