Fit Chick

Want to join your friends get­ting fast and dirty on the trail (and still get home in one piece)? Here’s how to get started!

Bicycling (South Africa) - - INSIDE - BY SE­LENE YEA­GER

Be­gin­ner moun­tain bik­ers: read this now! Four tips to fast-track your MTB progress, and make you quicker and safer on the trails.

THERE’S AN OLD SAY­ING ABOUT MTB: IT GETS EAS­IER – AND MORE FUN! – THE MORE YOU DO IT.

But as a be­gin­ner, you prob­a­bly wish you had some way to speed up your learn­ing. Look no fur­ther: here are the tips you need to fast­track moun­tain- bike fun.

Stay Loose

Your bike’s job is to roll over tech­ni­cal ter­rain. Your job is to let your bike do its job. That means keep­ing your body loose, so it can move be­neath you. Hover your butt off the sad­dle when rid­ing over ob­sta­cles like roots and rocks. The more tech­ni­cal the ter­rain, the more room your bike needs to move. When rip­ping down a de­scent, think ‘ push-up arms’ and ‘cow­boy legs’, and flare out your el­bows and knees so your body lets the bike flow rather than fight­ing it.

Shift Your Weight

You’re go­ing to hit some ex­treme ter­rain, in­clud­ing steep in­clines and de­clines. When climb­ing a tough pitch, shift your weight for­ward and lean for­ward, to keep your cen­tre of grav­ity over the rear wheel and main­tain trac­tion. When the earth tilts down­ward, go in the op­po­site di­rec­tion, shift­ing your weight be­hind the sad­dle and over the rear wheel to avoid go­ing over the bars.

Easy On The Brakes

You will be tempted, at some point, to grab both brakes and pull them to the bars with all you’ve got. Re­sist this temp­ta­tion! Moun­tain- bike brakes are pow­er­ful enough that you need just one fin­ger to mod­u­late your speed. Ad­just your speed be­fore the tricky stuff, like rock gar­dens and cor­ners, and then main­tain your speed through them. If you do find your­self go­ing into a turn too hot, stay off the front brake. Stop­ping your front tyre will send it into a slide, which is likely to send you to the ground. Hit the rear in­stead; you might skid, but you’re more likely to stay up­right.

Look Where You Want To Go

Star­ing di­rectly at that rock you don’t want to hit will al­most guar­an­tee that you’re go­ing to smack right into it. It’s called ‘ tar­get fix­a­tion’; your bike goes where your eyes are di­rect­ing it to go. Rather look past ob­sta­cles, to where you want to go. Keep your chin level to the ground and your eyes for­ward, and try to look as far down the trail as pos­si­ble, us­ing your pe­riph­eral vi­sion to avoid and ne­go­ti­ate ob­sta­cles im­me­di­ately in front of you.

YOUR BIKE’S JOB IS TO ROLL OVER TECH­NI­CAL TER­RAIN. YOUR JOB IS TO LET YOUR BIKE DO ITS JOB.

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