If you want to ride like a professional cyclist, you need to master the five core techniques of cycling:
observation, balance, braking, turning and pedalling. Last time we have already talked about two of them: things about observation and balance. If you haven’t seen it before, check out this: http://www.cycling4you.com/5-cycling-techniques-you-need-a/.
So, today we are going to talk about the last three core techniques.
Riding a mountain bike needs to brake a lot more than riding other types of bikes, and it's often necessary to use all the braking power to keep you on track and stay balanced. Therefore, you need to know how quickly your brakes will stop you, so you know how much braking power you need at a certain speed.
Get ready to brake at any time. You must keep at least one finger on the brakes to be ready to brake at any time. You can adjust the position and spacing of the brake until your finger can fall at the bend of the end of the brake. And keep your upper arm, wrist and finger in a straight line.
Shift your gravity. Do you remember that we have talked about this at the “balance” part that if you brake when the point of your center of gravity is projected from top to bottom to the ground falls in the middle of two wheels, the line projected from your heart moves forward---it is like a rope tied with a spindle. If the point of this line projected over the ground beyond the front-wheel grounding point, your body will be pulled forward and “shoot”. A hard brake is like hitting a big rock-if your braking power is too much, it will cause your centre of gravity to be thrown forward, and beyond the point where you can maintain balance. The displacement of this centre of gravity has a huge impact on the brakes, and when all your weight is concentrated on the front wheel, the rear wheel will completely lose its grip. Your rear wheel without grip means it doesn’t have the power to stop. Your tires need some weight on it to grip the ground so as to stop. If without the help of weight, your rear wheel will slip directly.
The balance of brake. To balance your brake means using the proper power to slow down the speed of your bike which will not make the wheel to stop or slip. Because the brakes will cause the centre of gravity to move from the rear to the front, so the front wheel, compared to the rear wheel, will need more power to slow down, and the brake balance must be adjusted with the braking force and downhill road slope. When riding on the flat road, the allocation of the braking power of the front brake and the rear brake should be 70% on the front wheel, and 30% on the rear brake. But in an emergency situation, once the braking power is enhanced, the ratio should be adjusted to 100% on the front wheel and 0% on the rear brake.
Some people think that it is safer to use the rear brake at downhill, which is a totally wrong idea. Use only the rear brake can’t stop at downhill and at some extreme road conditions it is impossible to brake, because if the deceleration is too abrupt or the slope is too steep, the shift of your centre of gravity will become complete horizontal. At this time the front wheel has no any external pressure completely to have the grip to make you stop, so you can only slide down. People who have just begun to ride a mountain bike should avoid getting themselves into this predicament. The only way to get out of this dilemma is to keep the bike slide until you hit the point where you can get the grip back, but the above method is already a higher-order ride technique.
The gesture of braking. It's like hitting an obstacle with a brake power that's more than normal. Get your butt off the saddle and move backwards, lower the upper body against the frame, and keep your arms bent to retain elasticity to absorb the impact of the force.
Braking time. When we going down a step or crossing any kind of barrier requires a temporary release of the brakes, which power allows you to cross the barrier is enough. The impact of the obstacles, coupled with the impact of the brakes, is bound to overwhelm you. So when your bike is down the step, be sure to release the brakes lest your centre of gravity move too much forward.
Turning looks simple, and it's the first thing you'll get when you learn to ride a bike. However, it is not enough to rely on the technique you used to be in a dead turning or at a high-speed turning. In a mountain biking event you need to improve your turning skills to ride comfortably and safely on the narrow road.
Tips for entering a turning.
When we are turning, not only our handlebars need to turn but also our body needs to turn to the inside of the corners. It's natural to tilt your body into the inside of the corners, but you have to be skilful in this skill to use it when you're in a hairpin turning or turning at a high speed. A sharp turn will cause a similar braking effect as the ground friction to the front wheel side, which is the same as when taking an emergency brake, the sharp turn requires you to hold down the posture, allowing you to have more room to adjust the degree of turning and control the tilt angle. The faster you ride, the lower the posture needs to be. Look at where you're going. Your direction of sight line determines the direction of your turn, so try to see as far as possible, and focus on the inside of the corners, so that your upper body facing that direction, your head, shoulders and body are facing the inside of the curve.
Let your body slightly leave the saddle mat and put the weight on the leg outside of the turn when entering the turning as it can help absorb the impact of shock (your legs and arms are the best shock absorbers), and you need exact balance when entering the turning, so you don't want your body to remain on the mat and be affected by the terrain. Lower your outside leg can improve the grip of the tire. Lower your centre of gravity can also make it easier to catch the balance point. At the same time, your inside leg will be raised to avoid hitting the obstacles on the ground.
Pedalling is not just swinging your legs, but letting your strength come in handy when you need it, and using the correct gear to overcome the terrain or conquer the steep slope.
The gear. The variable speed function of a bicycle can help you to climb steep slopes with a fixed force output. In general, the front wheel of a mountain bike has three speed, the rear wheel has nine speed. Theoretically, there are 27 combinations, but some overlap.
In order to maintain the best effect of the utility of the gear, the position selection of the front gear and the rear flywheel must keep the chain in straight line. The chain can only be maintained in a certain range of flexibility, it will wear quickly if in improper use, especially in the humid and muddy environment where the chain wears more quickly. So the basic principle is: the big front disc drives the 4 smallest flywheels, the small front disc drives the 4 biggest flywheels while the middle front disc drives the other flywheels.
Keep pedalling. The correct gear used to ride the woodland road is to maintain the same intensity of pedalling strength, no matter how steep the slope you face, your pedalling effort should not be affected by the slope. (But it is unavoidable in very steep slopes!) You must properly vary the speed to maintain the pedalling force in your suitable output area. Use the light gear when facing a steep slope and use the heavy gear when on a flat road or downhill until the pedal force is in your output area.
Get your butt off the saddle to increase the pedalling strength. You use your body weight to pedal when standing so as to increase the pedalling strength. But at this point, you will also use the upper body strength. The overall is to significantly improve the physical output load. It's hard to keep standing on the long uphill. Even when you're climbing a very steep slope, and it's easier to pedal when sitting. However, occasionally leave the saddle for a few seconds and drive the heavier gear with your weight so that your legs can stretch and relax slightly.
Many of the conditions will require extra pedalling, and in a short period of time you'll have to make a special effort to cross the terrain barrier you didn't anticipate. If you've been pedalling very hard on the uphill, you probably don't have the extra strength to cope with the different terrains, perhaps a one or two-step stair, or a particularly harsh road that needs to be speeded up.
You must continue to shift gears to fit your pedalling intensity, and you may need to change gears every 10 seconds on the technical road section. When you see an obstacle or a road that slows you down, maybe a sudden uphill climb, a few stones, or a dead turn, you'll have to shift to a lighter position before you can easily pedal through it.