Thursday, July 23, 2009

Girl’s Guide to Better Mountain Biking: Technical Rock Gardens

Spurred by my original article at MTB by 198, Girl's Guide to Better Mountain Biking contains some great riding basics. Check back for more in this series.

Riding Under Tall Pines

Practice track stands

You know, when you’re waiting for everyone else to get their stuff together on a group ride and you’re riding around the parking lot trying to stay in one place to talk, but not fall over. This is the track stand and more advanced technical riding requires the ability to slow your bike’s momentum, even stop it, like in a track stand, so that you can change your line. Plus they look pretty darned cool.

Easy relaxed body positioning, with more weight centered towards the back

This can be very rider specific, so try different positions out. You want to be in an easy relaxed body position. Raise yourself slightly off your seat before you hit the rocks, slightly bent arms and legs and try to go with the rocks rather than fight them.

Easy gear

Goes without saying for some, but you generally need to be in an easier gear here. It’s pretty common to hit rock gardens in the wrong gear when you are starting out- generally I see people hitting it in too hard of a gear. Make sure you shift to an easier gear before you hit the rocks.

Speed is a factor

Another goldilocks moment here, but you need to be going not too fast and not too slow. If you’re new to cycling I think the most common problem going through a rock garden is not going fast enough. You need a certain amount of speed to get over rocks, no matter how good you are. Don’t come flying into the rock garden at break neck pace to accomplish this. Instead, try to keep your momentum going fairly evenly throughout the rock garden. As you progress and find that you can handle more technical sections, practice going through them really slow or picking a different line.

Where to look

This is pretty common advice, but worth repeating. You need to look where you want your bike to go. There are a lot of things to be pulling together when you hit a rock garden, and this isn’t the time for sightseeing. Moreover, your bike really will go where you are looking (and steering).Find your line and handle it one obstacle at a time. Look just a few feet out in front of your wheel, maybe two or three, but this also depends on your terrain and skills. If you look too far ahead, you won’t be able to handle the rock directly in front of you.

More video to come!

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