Bike Basics

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I.  VISION ~ It all begins with seeing it.
Scan ahead see the trail. Pick your lines. Set up for your next turn, and prepare for the turn after that (it all begins with seeing it).

II.  FEET PARALLEL ~  When you’re not pedaling place your feet at 3 and 9 o’clock, keep your feet parallel. When turning, I prefer to keep the direction you are turning and that foot forward (so if turning Right, my Right foot is forward)–I do this so if I have to ratchet backwards, I’m able to ratchet the outside foot down with fewer chances of hitting obstacles. It also puts me in a position to power out of the turn (after the apex) Lastly, feet parallel gives me balance in the bottom bracket.  This is not only for turning, but for descending. Put your weight in the BOTTOM BRACKET to lower your center of gravity and allow your legs/arms as shock absorbers, with the legs supporting the majority of your body weight.

III.  RELAX-ARMS ~ Your body needs to soak up bumps.  When turning, push smoothly on the bars to turn. If turning left, push your weight into your left hand to turn the bike. For more advanced turning, you will do a setup, find a good place to push (a berm or dry patch or solid ground (depends on gravel,sand, etc)), then push drastically on that arm, precisely when on that place you decided.It should be a quick aggressive push to get your front end around pointed the direction you want. When accompanied with feet being parrallel, you can ride off the saddle and Push your bike through the turn (setting it up where you want it) then placing your body weight back on it (this is more advanced but its quick to push the bike around (think a 20 pound bike vs a 180 pound bike plus rider).

IV.  ATTACK POSITION ~ II and III together = Attack Position – get your weight BACK!

Only your lower body should ‘work’. Sit on your seat, relax your arms, focus on breathing and calming your Heart Rate, and pedal your legs in perfect circles.Their will be times when you push harder, but when the gradient slows, or you are one the wheel of the rider in front, think “RELAX” and save your energy for the next hill. Keep your knees in and over the pedals. This is an efficient state. When base training-ride as much in this state as possible to teach your body how to ride fast and still recover.

V.  PUSH BARS ~ Push Bars – smooth push=turn.

When turning, push smoothly on the bars to turn. If turning left, push your weight into your left hand to turn the bike. For more advanced turning, you will do a setup, find a good place to push (a berm or dry patch or solid ground (depends on gravel,sand, etc)), then push drastically on that arm, precisely when on that place you decided.It should be a quick aggressive push to get your front end around pointed the direction you want. When accompanied with feet being parallel, you can ride off the saddle and Push your bike through the turn (setting it up where you want it) then placing your body weight back on it (this is more advanced but its quick to push the bike around (think a 20 pound bike vs a 180 pound bike plus rider).

VI.  SPEEDLIMIT ~ Attack hills and bring it all together.

Bring together the turning, power the hills, and perfect circles – The speed limit idea is to MAXIMIZE the speed. Sure you could go faster, but you might burn more energy to do so. Finding and raising the speed limit is crucial to racing success.If you can take a turn at 15mph, but you take it at 14mph, you are losing time. If taking at 16mph, you are either out of control, or burning energy to make sure you keep the speed that high. Same thing for a downhill, if the ‘race’ is traveling at 30 mph, and you are pushing 31mph, you’re not gaining much, where if you coasted at 30mph you’d save that energy to apply it for a hill (which has greater gains-if everyone goes 5mph uphill, and you go 6 or 7mph, you do that for the length of the uphill (which is longer than the downhills).

VII.  APEX ~ Know your speed limit.

See your line, and see that the turn is approaching. Look ahead to see where you need to exit, and set up for the turn accordingly. For example, if turning LEFT, approach the turn from the far Right, using the last straight (or best breaking surface) to slow down if needed to access the correct speed limit.Once at the ‘speed limit’, push on your left hand to make your turn, APEXING through the middle of the turn (the inside left) (except for roots/rocks-it depends). Once at the apex (you should be seeing what’s ahead to set up for another turn, or to view your exit strategy. You want to EXIT FASTER than you entered. So apply power to the pedal (your left pedal should be forward in this example), making sure you don’t hit roots/rocks, etc, as you pedal and use the far Right outside of the trail to keep your momentum.

If speed limit was approached right, after the initial breaking period(which is done BEFORE any turning), you shouldn’t hit your breaks at all. Use your rear break to adjust if speed or obstacles were misjudged, with the weight distribution, the rear wheel should ‘skid/slide’ to adjust and set you up for the turn.

FINALLY ~ Put it all together for free SPEED.

These are the basics with some intermediate/advanced things thrown in there. Once you get these principals down, you will be ready to race….in any category.The next lessons to ask me about (once you have these, are: TACTICS, HOPING (efficiently to avoid objects, STARTS, FINISHES (Sprints), HILLS (show how to physically ride hills, standing, seated-forward and back-why and when to do each), SWITCHBACKS, GEARING (which gear you should run to maximize performance). Plus any other sessions you feel you have questions about.

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