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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Mar 2008
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    2,738

    "how-to" questions

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    Experienced mountain bike ladies, I need some advice on how to handle some terrain.

    I've been riding with DH and our friend K this summer, and I'm really pleased with the improvements that I'm making. The boys make me lead a lot of the time so that they don't inadvertantly lose me and, as a result, I'm getting faster and better at cornering. I told K that having him riding behind me was like having an angry mama bear behind me- I was too afraid to slow down!

    On that note, there's a couple of local trails that still continue to freak me out. One is a very narrow, very steep path cut into a hillside. One false step and you're in the brush at the bottom of the hill! I can handle the gentle ascents and descents along the edge, but the steep stuff near the edge freaks me out.

    The other is a series of switchbacks that wind through a gully. The switchbacks are gradual and shallow near the top, and become progressively steeper and sharper as you approach the bottom. The short steep descents are ok- it's the turning at each end without crashing into a tree that's the problem. I'm getting better at it, and able to go further along than I used to, but I still get to a point where I don't think I can make the turn without tumbling over sideways.

    So.....any suggestions for how to navigate this terrain, or exercises that would help me that I could practice in the back yard? TIA!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2006
    Location
    Suburban MA and Western ME
    Posts
    1,822
    Quote Originally Posted by Becky View Post
    So.....any suggestions for how to navigate this terrain, or exercises that would help me that I could practice in the back yard? TIA!
    I often recommend a balancing exercise to help with this - it certainly helped me, and now I can navigate the trickiest of switchbacks. It really is all about the balance.

    On a grassy area, get on your bike, clip in and just practice doing a track stand for as long as you can. Often, you will need to move the front wheel, or re-shift your body weight to maintain your balance, but the trick is not to pedal, or put your foot down. How does this help?

    Think about making a tight turn - you need balance, and typically, you are doing this at slow speed. I have one switchback on my local trails where I can literally stop, and steer my way around the turn using my balance.

    It's also a good skill in other areas!

    Good luck - sounds like you are doing really well!

    SheFly
    "Well behaved women rarely make history." including me!
    http://twoadventures.blogspot.com

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Mar 2008
    Posts
    2,738
    SheFly, I like that idea! I can definitely practice track standing at home!

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Mar 2006
    Location
    Ventura County CA
    Posts
    605
    I have trails that are really exposed too, so I know what you mean about the edge freaking you out. Just keep your eyes ahead and don't look down.

    On switchbacks, look to the inside of your turn, don't look at the outside because that will send you off the trail. On a left hand switchback, try to start on the right side of the trail, look to the inside, use your new balancing skills and you should be able to pull it off. Opposite for a right hand turn of course.

    Most people are stronger in one direction than the other. Practice extra hard in the direction that is not natural. That's where tiny circles and figure 8's in your driveway can help you.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Location
    foothills of the Ozarks aka Tornado Alley
    Posts
    4,197
    Becky, I'm not an expert but I found using a wider handlebar on my mtb helps with control--even in tight turns. I also do short track stands with a little pressure on the rear brake.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Mar 2008
    Posts
    2,738
    Quote Originally Posted by sundial View Post
    Becky, I'm not an expert but I found using a wider handlebar on my mtb helps with control--even in tight turns. I also do short track stands with a little pressure on the rear brake.
    When you say "wider", how wide do you mean? And, for comparison's sake, what width road bars do you ride? (IIRC, you're a roadie as well.) I'm using a bar that's comfortable for me, but I know that it's narrower than what many folks would use. However, any wider, and I'm hooking it on trees.

    Thanks for the suggestions, ladies. It's all good stuff!

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Nov 2002
    Location
    the dry side
    Posts
    4,403
    My handlebars range from 22-24".

    In addition to the other good tips - be sure and be out of your saddle, using the trackstand concept of balance, on these turns. I find it helps immensely to make sure my body is extended ( not just doing a little hover) and moving back quite a fit, and modulating my front brake. Using the front brake to control turns like these was a revelation to me.

    To try at home, in addition to the trackstand,
    Ride in really slow tight circles. Put your saddle down so you won't be tempted to sit on it. Practice being loose on the bike, letting your bike move seperately from your body, and going very very slow to find those balance points.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Mar 2008
    Posts
    2,738
    Quote Originally Posted by Irulan View Post
    My handlebars range from 22-24".

    In addition to the other good tips - be sure and be out of your saddle, using the trackstand concept of balance, on these turns. I find it helps immensely to make sure my body is extended ( not just doing a little hover) and moving back quite a fit, and modulating my front brake. Using the front brake to control turns like these was a revelation to me.

    To try at home, in addition to the trackstand,
    Ride in really slow tight circles. Put your saddle down so you won't be tempted to sit on it. Practice being loose on the bike, letting your bike move seperately from your body, and going very very slow to find those balance points.

    Sounds like my ~23.5" bar isn't as narrow as I thought, which is a good thing. The tip about the front brake is good too. DH and I were discussing this on today's commute home- which brake is better to use in a situation like this.

    I understand the idea of keeping my weight back on the descents. Do I keep it back on the upside to navigate the turn, or do I shift forward as I roll up the other side and into the turn?

    My neighbors think I'm crazy, riding around the back yard popping wheelies, and hovering above a bike with no saddle. I like to encourage the notion

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Nov 2002
    Location
    the dry side
    Posts
    4,403
    Quote Originally Posted by Becky View Post
    Sounds like my ~23.5" bar isn't as narrow as I thought, which is a good thing. The tip about the front brake is good too. DH and I were discussing this on today's commute home- which brake is better to use in a situation like this.

    I understand the idea of keeping my weight back on the descents. Do I keep it back on the upside to navigate the turn, or do I shift forward as I roll up the other side and into the turn?

    My neighbors think I'm crazy, riding around the back yard popping wheelies, and hovering above a bike with no saddle. I like to encourage the notion
    It's not about "keeping" your weight in anyone specific spot, it's about moving your body to find that sweet spot that best assists your turn. For me, that's standing up on my pedals and moving my center of gravity back - but it's not graven in stone.

    As for the neighbors, wait until you put a bike teeter in your yard.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Mar 2008
    Posts
    2,738
    Quote Originally Posted by Irulan View Post
    As for the neighbors, wait until you put a bike teeter in your yard.
    Where can I get plans to build one?

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Jul 2009
    Location
    Spokane, WA
    Posts
    1
    Check out teeter totter plans here:
    http://www.singletracks.com/blog/unc...r-totter-plan/

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Nov 2002
    Location
    the dry side
    Posts
    4,403
    Mine is uber-simple: We took a 2 x 10"x 12' and used some spikes to fasten the board to a big round of unsplit firewood.

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Mar 2006
    Location
    Ventura County CA
    Posts
    605
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BIgwbaNH6vA

    I would be REALLY careful with that front brake. Just a tiny bit too much and you are over the bars if it is steep.
    Last edited by fatbottomedgurl; 07-21-2009 at 04:32 PM.

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Jul 2009
    Location
    Springfield, VA
    Posts
    20

    Just learning too

    I am in the process of just learning to ride mtb, what are the skills I need to focus on the most? I am able to get by a bit with the skills I have picked up being a roadie, but I would love to feel more confident on the trail. My SO said he would teach me the basics (and he is very patient), but I kind of need a better idea of what those basics are

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Location
    Australia
    Posts
    271
    Quote Originally Posted by jef09 View Post
    I am in the process of just learning to ride mtb, what are the skills I need to focus on the most? I am able to get by a bit with the skills I have picked up being a roadie, but I would love to feel more confident on the trail. My SO said he would teach me the basics (and he is very patient), but I kind of need a better idea of what those basics are
    Cripes! Well here are a few ideas to get started with. But might I suggest that it is like your SO teaching you to drive, ski etc and sometimes it might be a better idea to go and catch a class with an anomymous instructor!!!

    At the beginner class I did a few years ago, the sorts of things that were covered included:

    - Finding the attack position and the basics of how to move your weight forward (for climbing) and backward (for descending)
    - One finger braking (always riding with a finger over the brakes and modulating)
    - Riding in small circles (for balance, control and where to look) standing, sitting and on the brakes
    - Stick hopping (learning how to pick up front wheel and then back wheel)
    - Rolling over basic obstacles

    They also covered heaps of stuff on staying loose, using momentum, and also something on picking lines etc but that is very situational depending on what sort of terrain you are riding in.

    There are some good videos/DVDs you can get and I'm sure there are plenty on Utube that could help you with the basics if you can't find a course.

 

 

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