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Go Easy on the Brakes.
Table of contents
- MTB for Beginners - Teaching Kids Basic Mountain Biking Skills – ByK Bikes AU
- Main navigation
- Beginner’s Guide to Mountain Biking : Everything You Need to Know
The bush and trees might also give your upper body less leeway so precision steering and balancing become more important. You need that Single Track Minded method of looking 4 to 6 metres ahead to process the upcoming terrain and learn not to look at obstacles as you tend to get drawn into them.
Leaning the bike over to the side you need to steer towards is also often useful when your weight is wrongly set for a turn in that direction. On that point, we strongly recommend this article It's not just used for riding skinnies, like the length of logs, planks, and elevated boardwalks, but staying on your line through rock gardens or along a section of narrow singletrack where precision matters.
When a descent or an obstacle presents itself on single track, then the technical difficulty increases dramatically. To counter this you need to be prepared to react quickly. Never sit and relax waiting for what comes next. You should ideally be in the "Attack Position" which readies you to react quickly. Keep a firm grip on the handlebars with your thumbs curled below the bars.
Elbows bent, weight forward, pedals level when not cranking, weight on the pedals and your rear end off the seat and moved back slightly. The bike is not so directly connected to you and can easily be moved around below you. Stay loose and stay out of the saddle. Up your gearing. Ride in a slightly higher gear than the trail would seem to require. This readies you for an unexpected climb for which you may have no time to prepare. Suddenly being presented with a steep climb after a sharp bend may mean primary and rear gear changes and you have no time to soft pedal to shift gears.
If in too high a gear this could mean stalling and falling. Don't over-brake when in single track. Keep feathering the brakes to stay in control but avoid skidding wherever possible and rather go with the flow. The track narrowness will make it more difficult to approach roots and obstacles at right angles. Slippery conditions will make this even more hazardous so you need less speed to avoid wheel deflection crashes. Pedal wheelies are less helpful on descents or at speed.
You will want to ride most water as it keeps your footware dry and the time saving can be considerable. But often you are unaware of the bottom surface. Even a spot you've crossed several times before may have the odd big rock lurking down there.
MTB for Beginners - Teaching Kids Basic Mountain Biking Skills – ByK Bikes AU
Following someone else is not always possible so you will need to call tricky situations. Make sure you have the right gear selected, pick your exit point on the other side, and then power through. Assume there will be a muddy bottom. Back to the trusted attack position and have a firm handlebar grip as you power straight ahead.
Any underwater rock deflection will need to be constrained. Watch out for any flat rock at entry and exit points being mossy and hyper slippery. Dry powery sand is different to beach sand is different to gravel is different to Well, there's a lot of different sand types!
One consolation is that if you fall - the landing is one of the easiest! You should stay seated to keep your weight back and sit upright or lean back to slowly move your weight backwards when needed. The front tyre needs to float over sandy surfaces but still maintain enough surface contact for steering changes. This is one of those circumstances when leaning the bike to the side to steer, rather than by turning handlebars, can work better by avoiding the tendency of a turning front wheel to dig into the sand and plough.
Gearing should be higher than the slope requires as the drag will tire you quicker and you need the added power when the rear wheel digs into the steep stuff. As a last resort, if there's a long distance of sand, you could deflate your tyres a bit. Gravel is technically sand, but of the hard and unstable ball-bearing variety. The rules are much the same as for cane trash - steer with bike lean, keep the steering as straight ahead as possible, don't even think of front brakes, drop your centre of gravity, keep the outside pedal down on cornering, watch out especially for riding on the negative camber part of the track in a corner, no quick movements.
Mud can be thin, watery and splashy - and it can be thick, glutinous and tacky. And a mixture of all. It presents all sorts of problems from technical riding issues to equipment damage and is something you will need to deal with largely by experience. Treat it as an unstable surface in terms of technical riding - much like gravel and cane trash. The sticky, glutinous built up mud can cause your wheels to lock up and retirement becomes a real possibility if you have caliper brakes fitted. You probably need to have your weight a centre, but ready to move back and power out of bogging down situations.
Use water it should be around if there's mud when you need to stop and dig accumulated mud out - and you can also clean hands in standing water. Mud is really bad for your power train components and, like a grinding paste, it can get inside the chain rollers and cause considerable damage. If the muddy terrain clears, then take the opportunity to rinse mud off in the next water crossing. This is a particular coastal KwaZulu-Natal thing. For most of the year, as cane is cut, a layer of dried stalks and leaves will cover the trails - and it needs to be dealt with.
Laterally it is extremely slippery as it separates in layers and this makes both steering and braking very tricky. Add to that the fact that braking instantly locks the rear wheel which forces the trash to build up into a large messy ball which wraps around your cluster and gets trapped and drawn into the chain mechanism. Not good. Try to keep the bike perpendicular to the ground - traversing a contour across a hillside can cause the bike to slide sideways with any sudden application of power and look for areas where the trash is thin.
Even if it means moving onto sand.
Beginner’s Guide to Mountain Biking : Everything You Need to Know
If a lot of cane stalk is lying about, and is lying in the direction of your forward travel, then be especially careful. Your two most common breakdown problems will be punctures and chain breaks. At a basic level you need to be capable of dealing with both. Hopefully your riding partner s will contribute here but you are expected to carry your own spares and tools and should know how to use them. There are a number of good demo videos available to take you through the steps.
The best way to fix a puncture is not to get one in the first place. Replace your tyres when the tread is getting worn or when sidewall inspection shows nicks, tears and dry cracks. Preventative maintenance is better than a few extra rides and then a disaster out on the trail. Check your tyre pressures before setting out on each ride - a soft tyre is much more vulnerable to pressure cuts.
If you have decent quality tubeless tyres and have had slime added - then you have probably had punctures which have self-sealed.
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This is simple technology that shouldn't be ignored. You should carry a tubeless plug repair kit, patches, a tube and tyre levers. With a sidewall nick or tear you may have to revert to using a tube to get home.
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The videos will demonstrate the plugging principle. If you are using standard tubes, then you should carry a tube repair kit, patches, a spare tube and tyre levers. Again, refer to the video tutorials. Reinflation can be by using a compressed air bomb or with a hand pump. A matter of preference - but this should be such a rare occurance that a manual pump will suffice although it takes up room on your frame and is another item to clean and check regularly. For both tyre systems, you can tear a sidewall which presents a gap through which the tube will bulge and, eventually, self destruct.
A thickish energy bar wrapper or strips cut from a toothpaste tube can be used as an inside liner to prevent this. Even a R10 note preferably don't use a R note as that could end in tears will work. It happens.
The major cause is poor maintenance and it is recommended that you should clean, inspect and lubricate your chain after each outing. Another cause is what is called cross-chaining. Effectively, when you are using the lowest smallest primary gear on your front sprocket, you chould be using the biggest lowest gear on your back cluster. When viewed from the back, your chain is travelling more or less in a straight line. Similarly, the highest biggest primary gear up front should drive the smaller higher gear on your back cluster. Or the gears just next to it. Again, the straight line effect.
What you don't want is to use gears on the opposite end of the rear cluster to the chain ring primary gear on the front sprocket. This causes the chain to bend sideways out to right or left and causes serious wear and strain on the internal chain rollers as they twist through the pressure points. If you use the middle front sprocket then you can pretty much use any back gear without being too concerned about cross-chaining. To repair a chain you need to be carrying a master link or two and a chain breaking tool.
At the very minimum make sure you have master links for your chain so that a riding partner can make the repair.
The videos will demonstrate the chain repair procedure. Grinding Get a cadence going.
As a rough measure each foot should perform a crank revolution each second.