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When you’re on your bike, where are you? And how is your body arranged?
This is the most important aspect of riding technique. If you’re balanced and have great alignment, you have tons of control and power. If you’re too far forward or back, and your butt is too far forward, or your shoulders are too high, riding will be a constant, sketchy struggle.
Most of you have no idea how wrong your current positions are. The good news: Riding is about about get way radder.
Joy of Bike: dial in your hinge >>>
Use your hips! >>>
Triangle of Awesome >>>
Off the bike: Master this movement >>>
3 essential positions: off and on the bike >>>
The overall mission >>>
The low “attack” or hinged position >>>
High hinge, low hinge, crazy-low hinge >>> NEW
The extended power position >>>
Don’t lean forward or back! >>>
Lock your core >>>
Team CRC-Mavic’s riding positions (Sam Hill!) >>>
Fabio Wibmer’s Triangle of Awesome >>>
Triangle of Awesome and your heels >>> NEW
I just started mtn biking after years of road riding. I find it difficult to ride – narrow deep rutted singletrack. I am always afraid of getting pedal strike and end up getting nervous and slow down.
What are the techniques or drills I can work on to get better besides just keep riding. 🙂
This is a great question. From a safety standpoint, if you end up in a rut it’s much better to stay in it and not try to steer out of it. Eventually it should open up. Work on your hops so you have the option to hop out of shallow ruts.
Let me also ask, how much of the time are you riding with your pedals level versus having one pedal down? I see this quite often with folks transitioning from road to dirt – there’s a tendency to have one pedal hanging down. Not only does this lead to pedal strikes, it takes away from your stability on the bike. Unless actively pedaling, we want pedals level. Being out of the saddle and in a hinge (hips up and back from the saddle, knees and belly button above the bottom bracket) will make you way more stable and will give the bike some freedom to move around. Don’t take the last part to mean we want to be passive. Quite the opposite. We want to be in charge of what the bike is doing. We just want to allow small things to happen without them disrupting our whole body.
The skills you need to ride that singletrack is really the same you want everywhere. We ultimately want you balanced in your feet (dial in your Hinge and Triangle of Awesome), and we want your hands responsible for controlling the angle of the bike (tipping it front to back, side to side).
I would suggest some parking lot sessions where you work on your braking and cornering. Practicing them off the trails is world better than trying to learn them with everything going on with the trail. You can also work on riding straight lines without needing to look down. You can use painted lines and then eventually low curbs. Ride them while seeing them in the bottom of your vision. See everything and keep your gaze head-level where you want to go. You’ll find the bike is way less reactive and you are instantly going in a straighter line.
Deliberate practice will be your best bet. This can be in the parking lot, park (local parks and schools are great for having uphill and downhill grades to practice on) and pump track if you’re lucky to have one. You can also practice something specific before heading out on the trails. That will get you cued into that skill and ready to execute on the trails.
One more thing. We all have a a threshold above which we get dumb. Every one of us has this where we get nervous and start making mistakes or letting our form get sloppy. As you’re improving, stay below that. You’ll avoid crashes, learn good habits and won’t engrain other patterns that could hold you back. When I’m working with riders this is something I’m always paying attention to and keeping them in their Growth Zone.
Let me know if this helps!
That is great! Keep having fun. I’ve written a ton of new content, and I’ll post it as soon as I can create the images.
Hi there Lee,
I wanted to take a moment to share with you that a week ago I joined your online school and have been soaking in your advice. I am quite surprised at how much my riding has improved in such a short time! This Saturday I went for a ride on the usual trails here in Sedona and to my amazement I was able to clear sections that I could never ride in the past and I was able to ride longer, faster and safer without getting all beat up. I will definitely keep practicing the techniques you teach and am very much looking forward to the results!