Good day everyone, and welcome. Now, mountain biking is a wonderful thing that gets us outside and puts a smile on our faces. Now, whether you’re in it just starting or looking to develop your skills, we’re going to be looking at four essential skills that can progress you further.
Let’s start with pumping. Pumping is generating momentum by up and down body movements instead of pedaling or pushing, using the trail to generate speed. When out riding, you’re going to use the trail to actually help smooth things out and gain those extra bits of speed.
A great example of this is BMX racers or four-cross racers who use pumping to their advantage. Now, best practice for pumping is to assume a fairly neutral body position on the bike. You’re going to want your arms and legs with a slight bend in them, but just over or slightly behind the saddle. On approach to an obstacle like this in the trail or on the track, what you’re going to do is compress your body into the bike before you get to it, like the bottom of the obstacle, as you come up it, unweight.
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When you get to the top, you’ll start to push down the backside of the roller or the jump, or like here, we’ve got a rooty section which we can pump through nicely. This is going to unweight the bike coming up. By pushing it down the other side, you’re going to force your weight into the ground and generate that speed coming out of the backside of it.
A very similar pumping process can be applied to turns as well, especially berms. Unweight the bike as you come into the turn, compressing into the middle and accelerating, and popping out to get that extra speed. [music]A drop-off is a sudden change in elevation in the trail, usually with a flat takeoff and a sloped landing. Now, drop-offs such as what I’m standing here, the best way to tackle these is with the manual.
On the approach to a drop like this, what are you going to want to do? You’re going to want to start to squat your body weight into the bike as if you are doing the pumping technique, but you’re going to notice you’re going to want to keep your butt much further back. Arms and legs will be bent. As you get to that leap, you’re going to want to start then to explore your body up and back, keeping your weight back with the arms pulling the front, making it nice and light.
You’re in the air, what do you do now? Your weight should be back over the rear wheel. You want to make sure your eyes are on the prize, that’s the landing, and you’re going to want to make the angle of the bike match the angle of the landing you’re going to to try and connect as smoothly as possible and ride off into the distance. Finally, my last tip for drops, and that is mind over matter. Now, easier said than done, I know, but trying to think positively and running through the process of a drop in your head can make a difference in how you feel on that run-up.
Let’s face it, once you’ve mastered a little drop, a big drop is pretty much the same, and you can start getting real. Reading the trail means keeping those eyes up on what’s coming up and adjusting your riding accordingly. This is all about checking out what’s coming up ahead of you and adjusting your riding accordingly.
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Be it some roots on the inside here or set up properly for the corner that’s ahead. Each one will require a different action, and being able to see far enough ahead and read the trail properly can make the difference between getting through a section like this smoothly or being wildly out of control. On a tight section of trail like these S-bends, we’ve got here, looking 3 to 5 meters ahead will be enough for you to make an informed decision because the speeds are generally a little slower.
When the trail opens up, and you’ve got a big long wide-open section ahead of you, looking that much further ahead will give you more time to react and maybe pick a different line. Because the speeds are so much higher, the consequences are generally a little higher too. Finally, learning how to read the trail can help avoid any unnecessary crashes and almost acts as a risk assessment in your head, whereby you’re constantly looking at what’s the best way to proceed.
Now, this doesn’t always go to plan but should help minimize any upcoming carnage. [music]Another essential skill is cornering. I know you’re probably out there thinking, “Well, yes, obviously mountain biking, they got corners in them.” Still, we’re going to take a little strip-back look at how to get around them, and once you’ve got the basic technique for cornering, you can transfer that to most corners.
When we come into our berms such as what we’ve got here, like reading the trail, you’re going to be wanting to be looking ahead at the turn and into the middle of it and try and steer with the hips. What I mean by this is hips should be pointing roughly the direction that you’re going. We’re here on this narrow berm, and now the technique, as I said steering with the hips, applies to this.
You’re going to want to keep your feet level, pedals level going around the berm, and that’s because you’ve got the support of the berm to hold you and carry your speed. With different turns such as flat turns or faster, looser turns, you’ll end up dropping your outside foot to keep the weight pushed down onto the bike and into the ground for grip. Weight distribution is going to want to be fairly central on the bike.
Too much weight over the front and the back will start to lift from underneath you. Too much weight over the back and the front goes very light and will wash out face-first, and we don’t want that to happen. With braking, you’re going to want to do a lot of your heavy braking before the turn, scrubbing most of your speed there rather than in the turn so that it doesn’t cause you to get out of shape in the turn. Try and be as smooth as you can.
Not too grabby on the front brakes to send your body weight forwards, same with too much skidding on the back brake to send you a little bit out of control, nice and even on both. If you’re tackling steeper, tighter turns, you might want to be a bit back-brake-heavy to lock it up and flick it around, button berms especially, nice and smooth, brake before and then you’ll carry more speed out.
Now that you’ve got these four essential skills in your arsenal, I hope you’re ready to tackle the trails a little more confidently. I hope you’ve enjoyed watching it. If you want to watch more, don’t forget to click subscribe to the channel and give us that thumbs up. Also, don’t forget to check all our social media, Insta, back on the YouTube channel, obviously, and Facebook.