10 Tips to Improve Your Mountain Biking Skills

Posted by tan xiao yan on

Becoming a faster mountain bike rider can means lots of different things to lots of people. Some want to be a better rider in order to compete more effectively, others want to improve the cycling skills in order to hang onto the "A" group ride, others simply want a sense of accomplishment. Like everything, mastering several tips more specifically can get you to results faster.

Find a right mountain bike.
Some want to spend as little as possible on their bike which is fine if you are on a tight budget but do not expect great quality. If you need a bike to improve racing or training skills the best thing to do is go with a full carbon bike. They are much better for working out and especially for racing.

Ride your bike.
It doesn’t even have to be mountain biking. Road riding mountain bike, cycling skillsor commuting to work is a great way to build base fitness and that is really the core of most mountain biking disciplines. The more you ride the better you’ll get.

Bicycle commuting can be almost “free” in terms of time. You can ride during lunch hour and eat later at your desk. Good lights let you ride before sunrise and after sunset. Reducing your TV / other video viewings (where the average American spends about five hours a day) may make plenty of time for outdoor rides and indoor trainer sessions.

Build the body strength.
You also need to do some strength conditioning when you’re off your bike. There are exercises such as push-ups, pull-ups, squats, crunches, and every variation of them that you can do to strengthen the movements that you need for each skill on the bike.

Try to push your limits.
If there’s a hill you don’t think you can ride up, try anyway and keep trying until you get it. Your body will tell you to stop before you really need to. Go a little faster around the next turn or through rough terrain every time you ride it. Nobody likes to crash but you have to risk a little to improve. I’ve been mountain biking over 15 years and had many crashes. The only one I couldn’t heal from with a little rest was a broken collar bone.

If there is some seriously technical terrain you are too scared to ride try wearing some protective gear until you feel more comfortable with it. Always wear a helmet but extra gear like the knee, elbow, and full face helmet can be temporary confidence boosters. A dropper post is also a good investment.

Ride on different terrains.
Keeping practicing on the plain will not help your muscles to tackle more difficult situations. So you can ride on diversified terrains every other week and think of rough terrain as a playground that you can use as a springboard to get airborne or float over instead of dreading the jarring impacts or loss of control. Be aggressive and take control yourself.

mountain bike, cycling skills

Ride at destination places.
It is also important. It is not something that you can do all the time, but it’s great to fit a couple trips in each season. Going and riding different places provides you with new soil, terrain, views, rocks, ecosystems, geography, and it gives you some perspective for your daily rides. Riding in different places will surely improve your skill and scope on a bike.

Long steady distance - again, as someone else mentioned. The key here is steady distance - not slow. The best way of doing this, particularly if you have a heart rate monitor is to ride for periods longer than 1 hour (and more preferably 2+ hours) at 75-85% of your max heart rate. In essence, you're doing one big steady state interval for a long time. Yes, you'll have to work up to this, and the key is getting beyond about 1 hour. You will absolutely see improvements in the amount of power you generate which will correlate, all things being equal, to more speed. Of course, the beauty of cycling is that there is no such thing as "all things being equal."

Ride with others.
Especially with those who are faster than you. Just trying to keep up will push you beyond your limits more quickly than riding alone. Solo rides have their place too but you don’t want to get too comfortable when your skills plateau.

Look for bike clubs in your area, your local bike shop would know of them. Join group rides and learn to ride in a bunch. There are always morning rides on weekends. Many groups are just informal rides where someone posts on a forum the time and place.

mountain bike, cycling skills

Arouse your cycling enthusiasm.
Riding a mountain bike is as much a mental challenge as it is a physical one. Just as your physical and technical improvement will help make it easier to get up the hill, your mental approach will help as well. You have to go from hating uphill paths to accepting them to loving them. While you’re on a grueling climb, send your mind elsewhere and don’t focus on the suffering. It’ll be over soon.

Advanced tips
There are advanced skills to learn as well, such as track-stands, wheelies, bunny hopping, and jumping. As you might have guessed, there is a correct way to do these things as well, and in order to master them, you have to practice, practice, and practice.

The best and most efficient way is to work hard for it. Take it in small steps - learn a bit at a time. Over time, your lung capacity will increase and help a lot and your mountain bike skills will be improved.