We’re getting into the midst of our warm season, and most mountain bikers who had to call it quits for the winter have been back on the trails for a while now and should be improving their skills.
There are many good ways to step up your rides, making them more challenging and interesting for you as well as taking you to parts of our beautiful forests and dells you’ve never been able to attack before. It’s well worth it!
Ride With Wizards
This doesn’t mean dump all your friends who aren’t, but take any chance you can get to ride with people who are better than you, as long as they don’t tear you down or pressure you to ride too far above your level. Good mentors can inspire you to improve your form and technique and take on new trails without pushing you past your limits.
If there’s a trail or segment that keeps tripping you up, don’t let your frustration turn you away. Don’t wait until the next technical stretch and hope you’re magically better by then, keep going over the one you’re facing now until you can shred it with the best of them.
Concentrate On The Climb
Downhilling is why most people get into mountain biking in the first place, and the art of going uphill can get a little neglected in the process. Throw yourself into your ascents by focusing on maintaining your momentum with a neutral position, powerful and smooth pedaling and taking the cleanest line to the top.
Build your confidence in staying off the seat in some situations. It’s important on steep descents, lifting yourself over rocks, sprinting and many other core aspects of riding. Learn how to position your weight directly over the pedals while staying light on the handlebars so you can glide over the terrain.
Don’t forget to keep your cadence smooth. If you pedal with jerky downward strokes or in square patterns you’ll throw your balance off every single time. Staying in the proper gear makes this much easier to do, so make sure you know what to use when.
Don’t Let Up On Strength Training
Hopefully you did this religiously in the off-season, but you still need to incorporate it into your off-trail life now to redouble your core and prevent age-related muscle loss. Do walking lunges, push-ups with a small ball under one arm for greater challenging, and deadlifts for superior core and leg strength.
Ride Everywhere You Go
Bike to the store, office, school, coffeehouse, trailhead, everywhere you possibly can, even if road cycling seems to have little in common with what you really want to do. Bouncing on and off curbs and staying mindful of oblivious drivers (the lack of which is one of the biggest perks of trail riding) will build your physical strength and mental power.