Trail Tribe: Three Steps to Improve Your Riding
By Lindsey Helmbrecht
I’m not a brown pow connoisseur, yet I want to appeal to novices and experts in the mountain biking world. I am slow at climbing and descending. I am too careful and have realized that’s not the best way to advance. It’s all about confidence, and here are my plans to build self-confidence this summer.
Step 1: Find My Tribe
Powder Hound offers a weekly ride every Thursday at 6:30 p.m. You may be thinking, “I’m not good enough” or “I don’t want to be the last one.” I have been the last person and it was awesome! This ride is designed to get all levels and all types of people to ride together. During the last Thursday Night Ride, I was discovered new techniques, I had people encouraging me to climb root-y steeps I’ve never tried, and I found more confidence. When riding as a tribe, I’m lucky to know two really talented bike buddies who are more advanced. I gain technique from listening and watching.
Step 2: Send It Solo
We are all busy with distractions from summer, which means we may not link up with our usual buds. I’ve caught myself thinking, “I don’t have anyone to ride with so I’m just not going to.” DON’T LISTEN! I focused on the many natural inclines around Girdwood and the benefit of working on climbing strength. My favorite is Crow Creek Road. I vowed to go every day for a week, and I did. Each day I was able to go farther.
Step 3: Trail Technique
Know your gears – People tend to think you’re getting a better workout moving at a faster pace when you’re using more force. In reality, your pedal strokes are just inefficient and you’re wearing yourself out. In some cases, shifting to that easier gear will make accelerating and getting around the corners easier and keep you from getting tired too quickly.
Body position – When going downhill, have your booty out and back over the saddle and your torso low to the handlebars with both knees and elbows bent. Wide and low is key, so you’re ready to absorb impact and react to bumps. While climbing, it’s vital to have your body forward and shift your weight evenly so your tires grip the ground, preventing spinout.
Navigate with your eyes – Always be a few steps ahead. When riding it’s important to keep flow by keeping your eyes focused upon what’s up-coming. Your mind has already made note of that rock right under the tire, so your job is to see what obstacles are in the future while your bike absorbs the feature you’re already on.
Food for thought — A report from Outdoor Foundation found that 8.3 million people tried mountain biking at least once in 2016 – the third year in a row that the sport has grown. Hopefully, that fact motivates you to try something new.