martes, 22 de noviembre de 2011

The 4 key elements of mastering MTB skills - Jess & Norm Douglas

 As experienced XC mountain bike riders & qualified instructors of MTB skills courses, we often get asked
“What is main thing I need to learn to ride my bike better, faster, smoother and more in control…today!”
Although we can’t guarantee this handout will get you on the Olympic short list for Beijing…or even the
next Olympics in 2012, it will provide you with REAL techniques to improve your riding style NOW.
We challenge you to practice these techniques to improve your overall skill, and the next time you are out
on the trail on a social ride or race we know you will have a lot more energy, feel way more confident and
look the goods.

These techniques can apply to any level of rider, beginner through to advanced. The difference being the
terrain you ride and the ease and expertise you can maneuver your bike when encountering obstacles.
…Finally, after you have attended this MTB skills course, we hope this information will give you a better
understanding of what you have leant & what you still need to perfect & most importantly, why.
Positioning you body weight – in order to control the bike.
1. Attack Position:
The most used position in riding your MTB. Weight
centered over bike out of the saddle, pedals level,
knees slightly bent, elbows bent out, looking ahead.
RELAXED but in control. Ready to take on any
Examples of using this position:
• Coasting along single track, no pedaling required
• Absorbing ruts, bumps, roots etc…with speed
• Pre Preparation for any obstacle, log, drop off, dip,
puddle, jump etc…
• Pre Preparation for descending

2. Weight Forward:
There are two versions here, for totally different reasons.
1. Bulk of body weight above head stem (this is
the starting position for virtually all unweighting
– unloading techniques, to unweight or unload,
you must first load). Pedals level, knees
slightly bent, elbows bent out.
Preparing for the obstacle
2. Bring your weight forward on the saddle, hands
relaxed on top of your grips, thumbs tucked
under, wrists tilted toward ground, elbows
tucked in, chest open for ease of breathing,
looking ahead, stay relaxed. This technique is
used for climbing steep hills. There are
variations to this including being out of the
Examples of using this position:
• Loading weight forward to enable weight shift to
occur when unweighting – weight back. Done just
before lifting wheel over log, rock, step, gutter &
other obstacles such as drop offs, puddles, dips etc…
• Can be used for Endo’s (rear wheel lift with front
wheel on ground) – lets hope you are attempting do
this deliberately though!
• Technical climbs
• Sometimes you may need to be out of the saddle to
get up over an uphill obstacle.
• During a hill climb, there may be numerous times
where you need to transfer the weight forward then
back depending on the traction of the front & rear

3. Weight Back:
There are two versions here, slight differences in technique
with a marked difference in the result.
1. To get your weight back, you must start with
your weight forward. Push the bike horizontally
away from your in a forward direction. This has
the effect of moving your weight to the rear of
the bike & unweighting the front wheel making
it easier & smoother to get that front wheel up
& over an obstacle.
Think – Straighten your arms/weight back.
2. To get your weight back, you must start with
your weight forward. Sound familiar? This time
however, ‘throw’ your weight back in a jerking
motion whilst allowing your arms to lock out
straight. This has the effect of not only moving
your weight back to lessen the load on the
front wheel, it actually ‘lifts’ the front
wheel effortlessly.
This is a very deliberate and strong
movement, no half way efforts.
Examples of using this position:
• Small step downs and drops
• Dips and bumps on the trail
• This position allows you to descend safely
minimizing weight on the front wheel, keeping your
weight over the rear
• Jumps and launches
• Drop offs on a downhill
• Large bumps
• Logs, rocks and similar obstacles
• Uphill logs or step ups
• Clearing puddles, roots, ruts etc…

4. Side to side weight transfer:
Pushing the bike from left to right (for cornering
purposes) whilst maintaining your body weight
above the contact point of the tyre with the ground.
There are variations on the degree of which this is
done, including lifting the inside knee to take on
sharper corners faster & smoother with less braking
and more traction.
Examples of using this position:
• Slalom, pushing your bike from side to side to
negotiate sweeping corners
• Railing or carving corners, using your weight to push
down onto tyres as you keep weight centered over
contact point with group, inside knee lift may be
required here to tuck into corner.
• Switchbacks – this is where you will need to lift your
inside knee, look forward, weight back, tuck in, stay
centered and drive the bike.
• Dismounting or mounting, this is a very simple
example of keeping body centered but pushing the
bike away from you.

These ATTACK, FORWARD, BACK & SIDE TO SIDE positions on the bike are the foundations on which
to build upon to become a more confident, smoother & more skillful rider.
Mastering these is your primary goal no matter what your level.
Now the challenge is to add these everyday elements to the mix and see what happens!
1. Forward Vision: Looking ahead, through corners, looking for the smoothest line, assessing what lies
ahead, not what is in front of you. This will improve your speed, give your brakes a rest & certainly help
with cornering.
2. Smooth Pedaling & Cadence: Learning to become efficient & get more distance, more traction, less
effort per pedal stroke.
3. Smooth & timely gear changes: Understanding your gears, how & when to use them comes with lots
of time on the bike. Play around & keep a comfortable & productive cadence no matter what the terrain.
4. Mounting & dismounting, clipping & unclipping shoes from pedals: These two require practice
and lots of it. Maybe even a few falls. Confidence with being on your bike will bolster these skills.
5. Pumping the trail: - speed for free! When you start to feel the benefits of weight distribution on your
bike, you can start using an “unloading – loading” technique to push your bike down bumps and dips and
you will gain meters without any effort!
6. Modulation brakes: Brakes are easier to handle when your body weight is positioned correctly for the
terrain. Too much front brake can pitch you forward – so if you want to grab some stopping power – get
your weight back!
7. Slow Speed Maneuvering: Often you may need to ride slow on a technical uphill. Understanding how
& why to get your weight forward will assist in being confident to ride slowly. This is the same for a
technical downhill & getting off the back of the saddle.
8. Mono Hops & Bunny Hops: Perfect examples of ‘loading & unloading’ your body weight on the bike.
Mono hops are done in succession, front wheel then back wheel, clearing the obstacle totally. The bunny
hop is done in one movement, both wheels leaving the ground at the same time – normally in attack
9. Jumping: XC MTB riding (Not DH, Free Ride, Dirt jumping) tends to use more of a launching technique
& keeping the bike level by pushing the bike forward as opposed to getting air when it comes to jumping.
In XC riding, one of the main reasons to jump is to avoid having to slow down in order to negotiate the
obstacles safely. Once again, to learn how to jump correctly & safely you must have an above average
understanding of all the body weight positions on your bike & the outcomes of these.
10. Cornering: Fast & smooth cornering comes with positive contact with tyre to ground, looking ahead,
railing & using any berm like part of the trail, timely use of brakes, getting your weight back or forward,
pushing the bike into the corner are all requirements to achieve this.

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