Take Your Skills to the Next Level (Bicycling.com)


4 Simple Tips To Help Your MTB Riding from Bicycling.com

Do you want to go faster, ride smoother, and have more confidence in any situation? These four skills will help take your riding to the next level!

Photo: To ride steep, snot-slick rocks, Hoots suggests mapping out your line. (Margus Riga)

(Posted by Brian Fiske) You may not know Jay Hoots, but you’re likely familiar with his work. The 44-year-old fromVancouver, British Columbia, has designed cycling gear, earned a reputation as a first-ratecoach and instructor, and has built more that 40 bike parks and pump tracks. That mix of experience has given Hoots a unique perspective on what it takes to take your riding to the next level. Whether you’re a beginner or veteran mountain biking, these four steps will make faster, smoother and more confident in any situation. 

Pressure control
Hoots advises his students to learn to move both the bike and your body around for more traction and control. A pump track is a great place to work on this skill, but you can also use something closer to home: a curb. “Riding up, you want to go from the point of getting the front wheel on and then riding your rear wheel up to getting up and over using pressure control,” Hoots says. “The object is to get up on the curb touching each tire, but not hitting the curb as a square edge.” To practice this, think about more than just hopping up with your feet—it’s weighting and unweighting first the front and then the rear of the bike to get it up and on the curb. “Once you’re up, practice pumping down the same way,” Hoots says. “You want to make it a smooth edge, not a square edge.” 

Pushing into corners
To turn, most beginners—and even some intermediate riders—just turn their handlebar to corner. Advanced cornering is more active—it’s about pressing the bike into a corner. “You want to look ahead and commit,” Hoots says, “and then, with your pedals level, press through the apex of the corner with your arms and legs. This happens when you start to trust your tires and trust the bike.” The other key component: Speed, since leaning the bike over is a must. You can practice this on any corner.

Amplified braking
“A lot of people will tell you that you need to get your ass back when you’re braking, but you never know how far,” Hoots says. “There are a lot of things at play, but if you keep your cranks level but drop your heels, that will usually put you in the right position. It amplifies how much pressure you’re getting from the rear wheel to the ground.” Hoots recommends adding this braking practice to your curb sessions. “Every time you bump off a curb, you’re figuring out where your body is and how to move front and back,” he explains. “I’ve lost track of how much time I’ve spent bumping into curbs.” 

 Part of planning is looking ahead, which also gets your shoulders and upper body in the right place. But the bigger part is mentally walking through what you’re doing before you do it. “When consistency counts, you need to plan,” Hoots says. “Think about Ryan Leech hopping up and riding on a chain between two posts. He doesn’t jump up there and go, ‘Oh my god I’m riding this! It’s wicked!’ He’s thought through that move as well as what he’s doing after it, and after that, too,” Hoots says. To plan ahead, you need to break down the moves. Think through the steps of getting up and down a curb. Or map out the points you want to hit in a corner. Then plan through all the corners of your local big switchback climb. “Once you have the sequence down, then you can replicate it,” Hoots says. “Because doing something once is great, but being able to do it the same way twice is really a trick.”

A resident of Vancouver, Hoots honed his skills in British Columbia’s Coast Mountains. (Dustan Sept)


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