On the surface, mountain biking is a seemingly impossible task: to ride a bike at high speeds across uneven terrain — usually on trails located in heavily wooded or mountainous areas. This highly athletic feat, however, is very achievable and is practiced by thousands of cyclists every day.
The mountain biking process can be difficult to master, though, and usually requires a handful of proper preparations and considerations — whether you are approaching it for the first time or simply trying to improve upon your skills.
Here are five tips to sharpen your mountain biking ability.
Separate body from bike
Get into the habit of viewing your body and bike as two separate entities working in unison. The sooner you develop this mentality, the sooner you will fully understand proper mountain biking execution. Your hands and feet should be the only parts of your body that are constantly attached to the bike; everything else should be open and away from the bike to allow it to float, lean, and move beneath you when the trail gets rough.”
Ride in a group
Many intense athletic skills are better gained in a group, as you will be able to learn and improve at a similar pace as your comrades. Find a local cycling group that exhibits an interest in mountain biking, and if there is not one available, make your own. This approach will not only help your cycling ability, it will also keep you safe in the event of a crash or other crisis.
Watch upcoming obstacles
It is very important to brake before obstacles rather than in the middle of them. Therefore, keep a close eye out for upcoming bumps in the road, unexpected ditches, and other environmental hazards that might pose a threat once you have committed to your brakes.
Keep yourself loose
A great rule of thumb when mountain biking is to relax — both physically and mentally. Trail riding should be executed in a fluid, loose manner to avoid crashes and hang-ups on obstacles. Ride too stiff or too cautious and you will likely do yourself more harm than good — the exact opposite of what you are probably trying to avoid with this mindset.
Mix it up
An efficient way to keep yourself sharp as a mountain biker is to constantly push yourself out of your comfort zone; this includes mixing up the terrain on which you ride. If you have gained a knack for dodging obstacles on paved roads, for instance, push yourself to only ride on challenging trails. If you are not confident riding in certain environments, train in those environments to make them seem more comfortable.