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Newbie Skillzzzz

Old 07-14-20, 12:13 PM
  #1  
davei1980
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Newbie Skillzzzz

Covid-19 related closures and cancellations have driven people to the woods to recreate in larger numbers than ever. I started mountain biking in earnest when my office closed in March, therefore cancelling my commute.

Here are some things I have learned which I found helpful that ANYONE can do:
- Keep your eyes on the trail/feature ahead of you. This sounds moronic but there's a tenancy to look down at your front tire. It's true - your body will follow where your eyes go so head up!
- Practice micro-skills like manuals, bunny hopping, this will help you put it all together. Easier to practice in your yard then head out and apply on the trail.
- Get comfortable shifting weight - especially backward. Leaning back will help you gain confidence and avoid that endo feeling many of us experience. It will also help you unload the front tire which is a game changer when trying to crawl up tricky terrain.
- HEALS DOWN on descents - this will help avoid that feeling of your feet popping off the pedals, if you are riding flats. If you're new and you're riding clipless, get a set of platforms until you're skills are built up
- Always climb in a lower gear than necessary - you can spin all day in the saddle but your strength muscles are only good for a few stomps. Save those for peaky climbs.
- Learn trail etiquette (whole 'nother post there) and get involved in trail days, etc. JOIN!

I sincerely hope this helps, as I mentioned, I am new myself so I am sure others here can add!!
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Old 07-14-20, 02:01 PM
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Kapusta
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Good observations. I would add a couple qualifiers:

In terms of getting your weight back, it mighy be better to think of getting your weight low. Think about keeping your upper body in the same fore/aft position, but lower. This will also automatically get your weight back, because it pushes your butt back as your knees bend. But importantly, it encourages you to keep your arms bent and ready to let the front end drop when it needs to.

Gearing: yes, it is important not to get caught in too high a gear. But when the climbing starts getting technical, the best advice I got as a beginner was to keep shooting for a gear or two higher than I think I should be in. The reason is that it is easier to shift your weight to get over things when you are pedaling more slowly (but not actually going slower). This is a very complicated and subjective topic, and knowing when to gear up or gear down is something that takes a while to get the hang of, and after 24 years of doing this, I still donít always choose wisely in a new situation.
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Old 07-14-20, 03:43 PM
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Originally Posted by Kapusta View Post
Good observations. I would add a couple qualifiers:

In terms of getting your weight back, it mighy be better to think of getting your weight low. Think about keeping your upper body in the same fore/aft position, but lower. This will also automatically get your weight back, because it pushes your butt back as your knees bend. But importantly, it encourages you to keep your arms bent and ready to let the front end drop when it needs to.

Gearing: yes, it is important not to get caught in too high a gear. But when the climbing starts getting technical, the best advice I got as a beginner was to keep shooting for a gear or two higher than I think I should be in. The reason is that it is easier to shift your weight to get over things when you are pedaling more slowly (but not actually going slower). This is a very complicated and subjective topic, and knowing when to gear up or gear down is something that takes a while to get the hang of, and after 24 years of doing this, I still donít always choose wisely in a new situation.

Both really really good points. If your arms are fully extended you lose control.

On some of the "up and over" features like rocks you have to crawl over, my instinct is to be in a low-low gear for bite, but what always winds up happening? I carry a little speed, I start pedaling and spin out and have to put a foot down because all my momentum is kaput. I can see how it's better to mash up stuff like that in a few pedal strokes (BUT I WANNA BE IN A LOW GEAR SO BAD!). Just like hiking: take lots of easy, small steps up the mountain but when you hit a rock pile, climb it like a staircase.
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Old 07-16-20, 09:03 PM
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Keeping your eyes on the trail also applies to trees, rocks, and anything you want to avoid. If you look at them that is where you will go. Really important on bridges that you focus on where you want to go and ride there... and don't slow down.

John
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Old 07-17-20, 07:02 PM
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As a Newbie these are what I'm working on: NICA on the bike skills.

Neutral & Ready Positions
These dynamic standing body positions are critical to maintaining balance and control over varied or challenging terrain.

Bike / Body Separation
Bike / Body separation allows the bike to move as the terrain dictates while the rider remains balanced and in control.

Pedal Position

Level pedals, when not pedaling, allows the rider to stay balanced on both feet. Pedal position is also involved when a rider is poised with the pedal in a power position during the approach to a challenge. The foot should be positioned on each pedal properly: on the ball of foot for clipless pedals or slightly forward for flat pedals. Lastly, the rider can properly manage balance and control by rotating the feet on the pedals with ankle deflection. Heel(s) down when braking. Heels up while climbing or performing lifting skills.

Eye movement
The rider’s head should be up at all times with eyes scanning ahead. Scan further ahead as rider’s speed increases. The rider should commit

with the eyes to the chosen riding line. Also, look through corners and changes in direction. The bike follows the eyes.

Braking
Braking is used to control speed and come to a stop. Brakes and brake levers need to be set up and functioning properly for effective use.

Braking cannot be overstated as it provides confidence and safety as a rider progresses.

Steering

Steering is the turning of the front wheel. When used in conjunction with Bike / Body Separation, the rider is able to maintain balance and stability while changing directions. At slow speeds, a lot of steering is used to change the direction of the bike. At high speeds, leaning the bike is used to change direction while little or no steering may be involved.

Many skills require the rider to be moving at an appropriate speed. Riders moving at speeds below their comfort level have difficulty with balance and stability. Riders moving at speeds above their comfort level are often out of control and risk harm to themselves or other trail users.

Gearing & Cadence

Gear selection must be appropriate for terrain, the skill, and the rider’s speed. For skills requiring pedal strokes, gear and speed are critical to success. A rider’s cadence is the revolutions per minute of the cranks. For efficiency on flat terrain, a rider uses a relatively high cadence. When climbing, the rider uses a slower cadence, which allows them to surge their speed and use momentum gained to ride over technical portions of a climb.

Timing & Coordination

Small errors in timing and coordination can have disastrous consequences. Timing errors are easier to correct with repeated practice. Coordination errors are more difficult and time consuming to correct. However, you should never progress a skill when there are errors in timing and coordination.

Pressure Control

Pressure Control is used for maximizing or minimizing traction on either tire. With small movements, riders can change the pressure from back to front to find a good balanced position on the bike. Pressure control is used at least subtly in most skills. Sometimes, pressure control is the key to success but often overlooked.

It's a lot of fun learning something new, it's also hard work.
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Old 07-28-20, 01:05 AM
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Keeping your eyes on the trail also applies to trees, rocks, and anything you want to avoid. If you look at them that is where you will go. Really beneficial on bridges that you focus on where you want to go and ride there... and don't slow down.
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