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  1. #1
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    riding techniques?

    i know there are some "tricks of the trade" in mtbing, other than just pedaling and weight distribution/physics.

    so what are some effective techniques for turning? i read something about countersteer but the literature made me very confused. also what about body positions, etc? so far i only know to lean into the turn while trying to keep the bike straight...

    and how about climbing? i find that when i put all/most of my weight forward the rear tire looses traction sometimes. any special tricks like how to arch the back or whatever?

    how about carrying momentum into hills? lean forward and low, then sprint up the hill?

    anything else? i'm looking to improve my riding efficiency as well as just new ways to have fun(faster descents, for example). =]

  2. #2
    Wood Licker Maelstrom's Avatar
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    Turning - Countersteering is a difficult concept and I find very difficult to do. You have to be going fast for it to remotely work. At slow speeds it just isn't as effective. Otherwise I will let someone who can do it well tell you. Oh and you have to be confortable leaning without a berm. One thing I always try to remeber is keep the outside foot down. If you turn left keep your right foot / crank down.

    Climbing - Stay seated as long as possible. If you have to stand stand as little as possible and keep your body centred over the bb. This is all about the angles. If you lean to far forwards you will loose traction, if you stay seated to long to will start to wheelie.

    Momentum into hills - I try to get as much speed as possible into the hill. However the real key is to learning your own gearing preference on a hill. Make sure your chainring is in the right gear because shifting that beast will cause problems. Shifting in the rear is easier but the closer you have the gear to the right gear the less work you have to do and the less damage you will do to your freewheel. Also you may have the leg strength to grin up a hill but the real key to getting up a hill is spinning those legs. Instead of grinding away get a good cadence. This also helps if it is at all technical because you will be in an easy enough gear to pedal yourself over any obstacle.

    Descents - Lean back, hold on loosely and enjoy. The more you try to really force the bike the more you will loose. Look far ahead and find your line well in advance and don't have a death grip. If you want to get really good pedal whenever you can getting faster and faster. Use you legs, arms, torso as suspension along with your bike. And most of all Smile...the ride will be more fun the more relaxed you are

    Cheers.

  3. #3
    Gravity Is Yer Friend dirtbikedude's Avatar
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    As to the countersteering, it is based on the principle of gyroscopic rotation. This should help ;

    In the gyroscopic precession steering, the spinning wheel behaves as a gyroscope. It has angular momentum, a conserved quantity of motion associated with spinning, and this angular momentum points toward the left (a convention that you can understand by pointing the curved fingers of your right hand around in the direction of the tire's motion; your thumb will then point to the left). When the bicycle begins to lean to one side, for example to the left, the ground begins to twist the front wheel. Since the ground pushes upward on the bottom of that wheel, it tends to twist the wheel counter-clockwise according to the rider. This twist or torque points toward the rear of the bicycle (again, when the fingers of your right hand arc around counterclockwise, your thumb will point toward the rear). When a rearward torque is exerted on an object with a leftward angular momentum, that angular momentum drifts toward the left-rear. In this case, the bicycle wheel steers toward the left. While I know that this argument is difficult to follow, since angular effects like precession challenge even first-year physics graduate students, but the basic result is simple: the forward moving bicycle steers in the direction that it leans and naturally drives under its own center of gravity. You can see this effect by rolling a coin forward on a hard surface: it will automatically balance itself by driving under its center of gravity.

  4. #4
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    Another tip: When I get into tight sections, I get out of the saddle. That way, I can move the bike as needed without the extra weight of moving my body, and it allows me to easily stay centered over the BB.
    Mike

  5. #5
    cycle-powered nathank's Avatar
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    the really simple way to think of countersteering:

    if you're not moving and you turn the bar/wheel to the right and keep your body and the bike to the middle, what happens? the bike falls over to the left from the pull of gravity.

    when you are moving at a high enough speed so that the forward/angular momentum balances/overcomes the gravity so you don't fall, countersteering still has the same effect from gravity: a force to the left (if you countersteer to the right). this couples with your forward momentum which keeps the bike up (just like it's easier to ballance when moving than when at a stop) and produces a combined force of forward and left... the result being that your direction of travel is more to the left so you effectively turn to the left.

    you cannot really countersteer at slow speeds because you will fall over.

    it is a strange thing at first because you turn to the right to go left, but it's basically using the bar/wheel to weight the bike so that by turning it to the right the bike and you are leaning to the left.

    or another way of thinking of it is that when you countersteer you are making yourself "fall" toward the ground to the side opposite of the countersteer and combined with your forward momemtum this makes you turn.

    practice by going straight on a wide open safe road or parking lot or whatever, and force the bar away from you on one side - say the left - as you push the bar away from you watch what happens to your direction of travel and the lean of the bike and your body. experiment and learn how to do it and how to control it and how much you can countersteer at different speeds.
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  6. #6
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    To practice countersteer, try riding is a large sweeping S shape.

    When climbing, esp in a very low gear, dont let the rear wheel slip, apply just enough force so the tyre bites without breaking free. You have to move back and forward according to the conditions, and stay responsive to feedback from the bike.

    Learn to pick your line with care. Riding a non-sus or even better a cyclo-cross bike will really teach you this skill. On your current bike, you can fit tyres with less traction, demanding greater rider skill. Think about how you will enter the next section of trail, how you will exit, and will this set you up for the following section. Try finessing the bike across cambered trails and esp curves with an outside camber.

  7. #7
    wonderer, wanderer gonesh9's Avatar
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    with climbing, it really helps me to lean down as much as possible, so back is almost parallel with the top tube. it's true that you don't want to bring too much of your weight off the back in order to keep traction with your rear tire. but leaning down keeps your center of gravity correct. when you are in this position, hold on to the bars at the widest possible location. if you have bar ends, hold on to them. then pull the bars down and back, towards your rear tire as you are peddling up the hill. this will let you take a little more weight off the back, and lean forward a little more, while still maintaining good traction with the rear tire. my advice is to get momentum before the hill, but be sure you are in the right gear before that moment your momentum runs out and you need to crank the peddles. also, don't shift down to too low of gear too early, as this will cause you to lose momentum. i usually see people look ahead and see a big hill, so they psyche themselves out and shift down to granny gears. using most of your strength to get up a hill and relaxing a little once you reach the top is the most efficient way to go... it is a common theory that racers win races on the hills, and i believe it.

    downhill, look ahead a little and pick a line and stick with it. keep your elbows bent slightly to absorb shock. on very steep downhills, keep your center of gravity low, but move your body back. pick your line and don't brake.

    hope this helps...

  8. #8
    NCAA - DUAL CHAMPIONS! a2psyklnut's Avatar
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    Learn to bunny hop, then to jump off of small ramps or curbs w/o clipless pedals!!!!

    Get some platform pedals, some shin guards and a helmet.

    Learn how to leap like a cat, squat down and back into the bike, lift the front tire as high as possible, then push the handlebars forward and follow the forward direction with your body!

    Set-up an obstacle like a 2x4. If you set-up an obstacle to jump over, subconsiously you'll do better. Once you can clear the 2x4 laying flat, prop it up on it's end, then move up to an aluminum can, then a ????. Work your way up to jumping over an obstacle 6" high. This is about the biggest size obstacle you'll need to bunny-hop over when on a trail. Any bigger, you have to concentrate on rolling over with your back tire hitting it!

    Once you master the bunny-hop, set up a mound of dirt, or build a small ramp out of wood (like you used to do as a kid), practice on dirt or grass. Learn to bunny hop off the ramp. Slowly build it higher and steeper, get to the point where you need a landing ramp (or dirt mound).

    Remember, the take-off is critical. Pull equally up with both arms. If you screw-up the take-off, you're done!

    L8R
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  9. #9
    Wood Licker Maelstrom's Avatar
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    The normal bunny hop is good to know but when you have got your hopping down and balance is good try a j-hop. You get far more air and can get over bigger obstacles. Pull up on the front wheel like you are going to manual. The higher you can pull the higher you will jump. When you get the front as high as you need (or are comfortable) jump up and forward. Leap in the air air and bring you legs up (the bike will follow) and push up and forward on the front.

    It sounds complicated and does take time but the air you will get is signifigant over a traditional bunny hop.

    Another set of skills to work on is basic trials. I make it a goal to never have to get off my bike. Sometimes this isn't possible but with some trials training it becomes more and more likely. The trails here can be very tight and technical with many many obstacles making flow and riding difficult. I hate getting off the bike so I am trying many new techniques to never get off.
    1 - master trackstanding
    2 - front and rear pivot in order to maneuver the bike to face a 'better' riding direction
    3 - wheelie drop - some areas don't allow for speed but still have a drop. This is one of the most important things to know (imo) -at this point I am 50/50 between landing it and landing on my face
    4 - rear wheel bounce - I suck at this BADLY but am learning. This is useful in many situations and it really a prelude to a good j-hop. It allows me to get up obstacles that may be unrideable by hopping to my bashgaurd and then onto the wheel. BTW I actually can't do this but am REALLY working at it.

    If I think up anything else I will post again

  10. #10
    Gravity Is Yer Friend dirtbikedude's Avatar
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    You could go here this summer

    WCSM

    It is a good way to learn from some of the best trials riders. What you learn from them can be applied to just about any type of riding. It is also a good reason to vist Vancouver.

    Hey Mael, have you been to there play ground?


  11. #11
    Gravity Is Yer Friend dirtbikedude's Avatar
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    Hey tfunk, you should head over to the Sea Otter in April and check it out. There will be riders there from all disiplins of cycling and some of the pros are always more then helpful to answer questions. Just don't pester them right before a race, bad move


  12. #12
    Wood Licker Maelstrom's Avatar
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    Originally posted by dirtbikedude
    You could go here this summer

    WCSM

    It is a good way to learn from some of the best trials riders. What you learn from them can be applied to just about any type of riding. It is also a good reason to vist Vancouver.

    Hey Mael, have you been to there play ground?

    No but we do have one here I fall on a lot ...I was thinking of taking that class the more people the better. Taught by Ryan Leech himself I believe. My gf bought me the trainer movie which was decent but really didn't get too advanced

  13. #13
    Gravity Is Yer Friend dirtbikedude's Avatar
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    Yeah, he teaches it. There are some cool shots of him riding at his site.

    RyanLeech

  14. #14
    Member doctorspin's Avatar
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    Countersteering can be made to sound difficult, unnatural, and all kinds of things that it isn't.

    Basically, if you want to go right , push the right grip.

    The bike leans right and goes right.

    To straighten up the bike, push left.

    To swerve around an object at high speed just do a quck push-pull on one of the bars. That's how motorcylists change lanes in a real big hurry.

    Works at anything beyond walking speed.

    Most people do it without knowing they are doing it.

    Quoting the Motorcycle Safety Foundation people, you make a turn by "Slow, Look, Lean, Roll" which translates to Slow Down, Look where you want to go, Get the bike to lean in that direction by pushing on the bar, and power your way out of the turn.

    If you really have a bike leaned over, your cranks may hit the pavement if you try to apply exit power too soon. Criterium riders generally keep the inside pedal high or level though the turn.

    As a side note, check to see if your library has a copy of any of Keith Code's motorcycle books like "A Twist of the Wrist ". A whole lot of info in there is useful for cyclists of the non motor variety.

  15. #15
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    thanks for the responses guys! countersteering still confuses the sh** out of me =[. i bet once i see it in person i'll understand like *snap*. maybe i'll try to notice it next time i ride (hopefully soon but spring break is over =[).
    i won't deny it i'm a straight ridah

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