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14-05-2024 | Ella van der Veer

MTB for dummies part 4: Essential skills

This time, we'll cover the essential cycling skills that every MTB rider should master. Perfecting these skills can make the difference between a fun day on the trails and a nasty crash. Make sure to check out the previous parts: part 1, part 2, and part 3.

Below, I discuss five essential skills that every mountain biker should develop. These skills are listed in order of difficulty and are suitable for all levels, whether you are a beginner or have been riding MTB for a while but haven't consciously worked on your skills.

1. Read the trail!

The most important skill is to take a good look at what's ahead of you so you can anticipate it. This allows you to quickly identify changes or obstacles. Do this by looking far ahead rather than just in front of your wheel. When cornering, look through the turn. The bike goes where you look!

2. The attack stance

You want to approach every obstacle in the trail with the attack stance. This is crucial for controlling your bike on technical terrain. The posture involves coming out of the saddle, bending your knees and elbows slightly, and positioning your weight between the front and rear wheel. This stance gives you room to move around the bike and handle bumps or holes in the trail. In short, it allows you to react quickly to changes in terrain. This position is also the foundation for the skills that follow. To learn more, check out the video below.

3. Balance

After spotting obstacles on the track, you need to be able to navigate them. Balancing your weight on and around the bike is crucial for this. It will give you the confidence to maneuver your bike through and over various obstacles. A good exercise for this is the track stand. This involves staying in place for a while and moving your hips towards the rear wheel, handlebars, and sides of your saddle as you ride slowly. For a fun challenge, try putting your water bottle down on the ground and picking it up again as you ride by.

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4. Cornering

Once you've mastered the basics, it's time to focus on cornering. Most crashes happen in turns, so honing this skill is crucial. Good cornering allows you to carry more speed, which means using less energy on the trail or simply going faster. Check out the instructional video below from GMBN to learn how to steer effectively on a mountain bike.

5. Braking

Effective braking is essential for maintaining control on the trails. It's important to use both front and rear brakes simultaneously to slow down or stop. Avoid pulling the brake levers too abruptly, as this can cause skidding and loss of control. For more tips on proper braking technique, watch the video below.

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