Written by Physiotherapist Amanda Sin, Edited by Student Kinesiologist Janice Leung
Compare mountain biking to biking on the road, and for most road cyclist beginners or novices, their hearts may skip a beat or two if they aren’t natural adrenaline junkies. It’s hard to fathom how mountain bikers can navigate tree roots and rocks while flying down a decline or curve. The thought easily brings an ache despite the chamois pads in cycling shorts. Riding a bike gives you the sense of freedom to explore where you want while covering lots of ground. But maybe sometimes it gets a bit too monotonous riding on the road for hours. If you’re curious to mix things up a bit and try your wheels in the realm of off-road riding, here are 5 tips to help you have an easier transition into the mountains and beyond.
1. Look ahead and towards where you want to go.
Your bike will go where you’re looking, so don’t stare at the obstacle that you don’t want to hit. Look ahead at the line you want to take and your bike will go there.
2. Stand up.
When going downhill or over obstacles, stand up out of the saddle. This will give you more control and stability. Keep your arms and legs relaxed. As the terrain gets steeper or more obstacles appear, increase the bend in your arms and legs to increase stability.
3. Modulate your braking.
Be familiar with which brakes are for your front and rear wheels respectively. Your front brake is more powerful and will slow your bike down more than the rear brake. If you simply don’t want to go any faster, mostly use your rear brake. If slowing down is the priority, then use more of the front brake. Think of your brakes as dials that can be turned up and down, as opposed to on and off. This allows you to control the bike while slowing down in a controlled manner.
4. Move forward when climbing a steeper hill.
As the hill gets steeper, moving your weight forward on the saddle will help to keep both wheels on the ground and it’ll be easier to control your bike.
5. Be prepared.
Always leave home with a tool kit that will allow you to change a flat tire and tighten bolts on your bike should they become loose. Also, make sure you bring adequate food and water for the duration of your ride.
About the Author
As a member of the Canadian National Mountain bike team, Amanda has represented Canada at many international events. In 2011 she won a bronze medal at the Pan American Games, and in 2012 qualified to the Olympic Selection Pool for the London Games. Amanda joined the team and has been working at Movéo since March, while still instructing and racing on her bike!