Waterbar switchbacks to be exact. Tuesday I headed out to Golden after teaching lab to rock my world. The Chimney Gulch, Apex, and Grubstake trails are a great time. They are rocky enough to feel like I’m working on my technical skills, steep enough for me to feel like I’m getting a killer workout, an definitely have lots of switchbacks that are steep and sharp. I love days where I feel like a rockstar on the bike, and Tuesday was one of those days. I had to go home because the sun was pretty much gone, but I would have loved to ride all night! I figured I would make a little post to remind you and me about some technical mountain biking skills. It helps me to repeat these in my head.
1) lean back. like the rappers love to sing about. If it looks scary, shift your weight back and let the bike do the work.
2)Stay loose. The tenser you are, the more likely you are to crash. Think of yourself as water running down the trail. The more relaxed and calm you stay, the smoother you will descend. Sometimes if it gets really technical on a downhill, I feel myself holding my breath. I will exhale forcefully in short breaths as I go down. I sound like I’m in labor, but it really helps.
3) It’s okay to brake. Use the front brake to control your speed, and the rear brake to control maneuverability.
4) If you’re going off a huge drop off, pull up on the bars. If you drop your wheel down and it’s too far, you will do a summersault and crash. I cracked my expensive helmet 2 years ago by making that mistake.
5) For rocky, technical sections– flat, down, OR up, keep your momentum. Do not slow down!! Did you ever have a gyro-scope as a kid? -remembering that the faster it spun, the easier the gyro-scope was standing? Or a top- the kind you spin on the table. When that slows down, it falls. Same deal with bike wheels. If you are going through a rock garden and you start slowing down, it will be harder to stay up. Although it sounds scary, blast through it. If it’s a flat or an up, PEDAL PEDAL PEDAL. It sounds silly to say “just pedal,” but you’d be surprised to see when you stop.
6) For steep turns, take the outside. You want to turn the least amount possible, so going outside will shorten your radius. And of course, if it’s uphill, don’t stop pedaling.
7) Brake BEFORE the turn, not in it. Same with driving… I see people driving down the canyons, braking in the turns!
8) Don’t be scared. The moment you think you can’t do it, you probably won’t. It’s amazing how clearing something you are scared of boosts your confidence…and you riding ability.
9) Don’t get discouraged. It’s okay if you can’t make it, or if you are riding slower than usual. It’ll come back! Just have fun. That is most important thing. A lot of people (myself included) get upset when the ride isn’t going your way.