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Welll, I'm moving along

Old 05-10-15, 05:26 PM
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El Cid
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Welll, I'm moving along

This is starting out as my third summer hitting the local trails regularly (I also did it a few times back in February, but not often and I ended up doing a lot of walking). My skills are getting better, but I'm still very much a beginner -- physically fit, but not enough nerve to go very fast.

I think I'm starting to nail down the exact areas that need work. I ride with a solid frame (Surly Krampus), and I've become quite good at loosening up over rough terrain, standing up and letting the bike bounce up and down while I stay smooth. I also handle rock gardens and fallen logs well -- this is where you have to time your pedal stroke to avoid hitting something with your foot.

That leaves two problem areas: The big one is sharp turns. It sounds silly when I say it, but I have some trouble shifting my weight left/right, leaning into a turn when I need to. In the split second of a turn, I can see that my wheel needs to go to the right to stay on track, and I also know that if I turn as sharp as I need, I'll pitch left and fall. It should be simple to just throw my weight harder to the right, but doing it doesn't seem to be so easy.

The other problem area is those tiny gaps between trees. I hate those places. Usually I get through without snagging a handlebar -- I guess I just need to be less of a chicken and get moving.
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Old 05-10-15, 05:30 PM
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I picked up snowboarding in my late 20s and never got the nerve that people do who've grown up with it. Same experience with motorcycles.
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Old 05-11-15, 06:02 AM
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Originally Posted by El Cid View Post
That leaves two problem areas: The big one is sharp turns. ... The other problem area is those tiny gaps between trees. I hate those places. ... I guess I just need to be less of a chicken and get moving.
Just slow down for those areas. There is no obligation to maintain speed. Let the speed come naturally, and just because there is a curve at the end of a downhill doesn't obligate you to take the curve at full speed. That is why we have brakes -- and braking bumps . But seriously, there are plenty of trails that I see on which the curves cannot possibly be taken at full bore. Just ride at a pace that works for you.

And if mountain-biking per se turns out not to be your thing, then look at gravel roads and doubletrack. Where I live we are surrounded by old logging trails and other doubletrack that your Krampus would be perfect for.

Mostly though, just go at a pace that's fun and enjoyable.
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Old 05-11-15, 07:20 AM
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I'm in the same boat. I got into cycling in my early 20s and recently tried dj...didn't last long (I'm 30 now), the idea of jumping off stuff just doesn't seem as good when I'm actually doing it and not thinking it. I'm perfectly fine sticking with singletrack/xc style riding.
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Old 05-11-15, 08:35 AM
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You can get some cones (or not) and practice weaving left and right in a parking lot. Or you can head to a BMX track; I have a local one located in a city park, so it's always open to the public unless there's a race. This is far easier to practice when you're not on a MTB trail which has other obstacles, and you can't usually turn around and redo a section over and over.

It should be pretty easy to get a rhythm for putting all your weight on the outside foot to corner at max effort when your outside pedal is low. What some people struggle with is weighting the outside pedal when you have to keep them level for ground clearance and/or quick transitions from left to right.
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Old 05-11-15, 03:40 PM
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El Cid
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Originally Posted by ColinL View Post
You can get some cones (or not) and practice weaving left and right in a parking lot. Or you can head to a BMX track; I have a local one located in a city park, so it's always open to the public unless there's a race. This is far easier to practice when you're not on a MTB trail which has other obstacles, and you can't usually turn around and redo a section over and over.

It should be pretty easy to get a rhythm for putting all your weight on the outside foot to corner at max effort when your outside pedal is low. What some people struggle with is weighting the outside pedal when you have to keep them level for ground clearance and/or quick transitions from left to right.
I'm actually in the habit of holding the pedals level all the time, and keeping my eyes open for obstacles on the ground. Weaving through cones actually sounds like a good exercise, and there are some places where I could try that with lots of open space to myself.

Sadly, the weather network seems to think we're going to have a wet summer; there may not be many good riding days this season (not to complain about rain -- I'll take lower food prices over riding singletrack).
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Old 05-11-15, 04:24 PM
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Basic cornering tips that let me rail corners at much faster speeds and skills that helped me to master tight slow switch backs.

Fast corners:
*Even If the single track is only a foot wide go in wide,
*Set your speed before you start the turn, no braking In the turn unless your trying to get the rear end around something quick.
*Lean the bike not the body.
*Get your chin or neck down to about one foot above the stem, elbows at 90 degree's should do it, this gets weight into the front wheels contact patch.
* Making line changes mid corner with the handle bars at speed will throw you off line with all the front traction your getting by the above technique.
So,,You must learn to steer with your outside foot...
*Outside pedal/foot down and inside pedal up ,,obviously right,,very obvious, This Is how you get your bod up and lean the bike under the Inside knee, ok ok
NOW the more you press down with the outside foot/pedal the tighter the bike will turn....
* Point your belly button around the turn..

Slow tight switch backs:
*Down hill,, drag a tiny amount of back brake for added stability,
Really twist/turn/point your belly button around the switch back, your hips will follow, so will the bike..
* Look where you want the bike to go,,TURN YOUR HEAD AND LOOK
*Keep your weight in your feet..

*Up Hill, Don't chop wood, pick a gear with a medium cadence and keep pedaling,
*Don't drag any back brake but do all of other the stuff for the down hill switch back...

Set two garbage cans up In your back yard,, do figure 8's around them tighter and tighter, over and over, slower and slower..
Then throw a 2X4 down from a can out across your path,,,repeat and run over the board, over and over....

Sounds like your still staring at your front wheel,, stop that.

The APEX of a turn is often Incorrectly considered the middle of the turn....
The Apex of a turn Is the point where you can see the exit,,,, LOOK THERE,, the bike goes where you look..
Asap get to laying down the power, and learn to 'Pump' a corner...

Last edited by osco53; 05-11-15 at 04:33 PM.
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Old 05-12-15, 06:38 AM
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El Cid,

I thought it was myself writing your post, I read it and was like, "sounds like me, yup, that's me, yup." My second year, I got frustrated my first time out this year on some single track and then realized that I had probably only biked on such trails about 15 times in my life, I was a beginner who thought I should be better. Now frustrated by the rain and inability to go out and practice.

Jonathan: your post was interesting as well, as you recommend double track and gravel. The times I've hit such trails or old fire roads, I've actually had more fun than the single track where my ride is 50% awesome, 30% oh crap, and 20% walking/pushing bike. I'm thinking of keeping practicing skills, but might do some gravel rides where the rider gets out in the middle of nowhere in nature and sees a lot, and some of the more popular mountain bike races seem to be mostly double track or fire roads. (for instance, the Lusten 99er publishes its course and if I recall it was something like, and I dont remember exactly, but 7% single track, 15% pavement, 50% fire roads, rest gravel etc). I've watched some Youtube on some of these races and they don't appear overly technical but more test your fitness.

That's my two cents, thanks and good luck going forward.

Benny (being 41 doesnt help my nerve either)
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Old 05-12-15, 06:55 AM
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Originally Posted by bennybenny View Post
Jonathan: your post was interesting as well, as you recommend double track and gravel. The times I've hit such trails or old fire roads, I've actually had more fun than the single track...
I've been away from cycling for a couple of seasons. Have lost fitness and gained weight. Turning that around this year. Some of the singletrack I could ride two years ago with vigor, I am struggling on today, and I expect I'll be on doubletrack a fair bit, actually. That way I can get in some longer and hopefully calorie-burning rides.

...and some of the more popular mountain bike races seem to be mostly double track or fire roads. (for instance, the Lusten 99er publishes its course and if I recall it was something like, and I dont remember exactly, but 7% single track, 15% pavement, 50% fire roads, rest gravel etc). I've watched some Youtube on some of these races and they don't appear overly technical but more test your fitness.
Yes. Exactly. I'm reminded of the term "gravel grinder". Here's a blog:

Guru's Gravel Grinders

And more and more I see purpose-built bikes just for that style of riding -- for exploring on back roads and doubletrack. And why not? There's a lot of scenery to be seen.
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