Adam used to do a lot of road riding but with the roads being quite unpleasant to ride on due to too many dangerous and impatient car drivers he decided to start riding off road. Like many of us once you have tried mountain biking you love it.
Adam booked up a skills session as he had started competing in a few mountain bike endurance races and wanted to learn a few tips to get faster and more efficient on the trails.
We started back to basics to iron out any bad habits he may have picked up.
The first skill we worked on was his body position on the bike…..”control” or “ready for anything” stance and how to adapt this to get round corners. Straight away Adam found it much easier to move the bike around by being out of the saddle and shifting his body weight. By adjusting the position of his brake levers also helped with braking.
We covered cornering next, starting simple to get the technique correct. Adam was pretty smooth cornering to the left but needed to work harder on the right hand corner as he tended to dip his shoulder and not shift his body weight over enough.
The 4 corners gave Adam the opportunity to practice making the quick transition from a left hand corner to a right hand corner whilst controlling speed. Adam worked well through the corners and looked confident moving away from the saddle and leaning the bike over more as the trail tightened so he could get the best grip.
Once the 4 corners were mastered it was on to “Stickler” with the many singletrack corners to work through where you need smooth pedal strokes to transition between each corner and focus ahead. Here we also introduced a bit of pumping so we could gain free speed just by using the energy we put into our bikes.
Adam was using his footwork well to corner but did start going back to his saddle whilst in the corners so we worked on getting out of that habit before we moved on to a bermed tight s-bend to put all the earlier work on cornering into practice.
To manage these corners well and to keep a good flow and momentum it was important to be focused, looking for your exit, footwork and leaning the bike.
Adam’s first attempt took him a bit high on the first exit because he was not looking far enough around the corner for his exit which made it more difficult to keep momentum and tackle the second corner. He needed to scan all the way round the corner to the exit, turning his hips (steering with his belly button) and leaning his bike over.
Whilst coaching we watched a few other riders come labouring through these corners having to pedal and waste energy. One rider fell off purely from the fact of being sat in his saddle, entering the corner too fast, not in the correct body position and not looking. Luckily he didn’t hurt himself but it gave us a good example of how not to corner!
So with a few more coaching points Adam was coasting around these corners with ease whilst conserving energy but not losing any speed.
To practice pumping the trail a bit more we rode a section of “Tank Traps” without pumping, then re-rode it pumping. Adam was getting more efficient at this skill and could feel the free energy and acceleration he was getting.
On the way back to the car park we looked at how reading the trail ahead can help build up a picture of what may be ahead.
At the end of the coaching Adam was much more relaxed in his shoulders/elbows, his footwork was good and he felt he was gaining speed and cornering far more efficiently.
Good luck, practice and enjoy