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MTB Tips

post #1 of 23
Thread Starter 
I borrowed my daughter's mountain bike and went for a ride today. I usually take an old ten-speed racer. I found that 21st gear wasn't high enough, but 1st was a lot lower than on my 10 speed. You would think this would have made it easier for me on the steeps, but I had to put my foot down a couple of times, where I remember powering through on the old race bike. I like the hand position for going uphill better on the race bike. It seems with the racing bars, I could brace my hands on 'em and get a lot of power into the kick and have enough momentum to get the next kick going. With my daughter's bike in 1st on the steeper part of the trail with the rear wheel loosing traction and the front bouncing off a log or rock, I found my foot at the bottom of the crank but not having gone far at all and with no momentum.

Yeah, I really don't know the first thing about how to ride a mountain bike, especially on the steeps.

Any tips? Should I stand on the pedals or keep my but on the seat going up hill? Are some bikes better at keeping the front wheel down than others? What else can you tell me?
post #2 of 23
Ghost,

Try using a slighly harder gear so that you don't go quite as slow and need to spin the pedals quite as fast. Tis will give you more momentum. For really steep hills, I like to stay seated, all the way up on the front of the seat to keep my weight centered between the wheels. But here's a really useful tip.... as you are grinding up a steep hill, pull your elbows down toward your gut. Don't pull up! It also helps a lot to use "clipless" pedals so that you can pull up on the pedals as well as keep power spinning the pedals at all points through the rotation. But don't go trying to learn to use clipless on hills. You need to learn to use them before you go in technical sections.
post #3 of 23
The proper gear can solve a few problems. Most newer mountain bikes come with 27 gears which can help. Also, if its your daughter's bike my guess is the tires are either too narrow, too worn or both. Wider tires with better tread can really help keep the rear wheel from slipping. Lastly, the geometry of the bike is probably all wrong for you which really can effect weight distribution during a climb.

Standing can help with your power going up hill. I like to stand during steep sections with my gears a couple higher than if I were sitting down. The downside to standing is you tend to get your weight too forward causing your rear wheel to slip. It takes practice to get the balance right.
post #4 of 23
Going uphill on a MTB is tough to practice because the terrain is always variable. When I'm climbing on my road bike I can either stand or sit, there's little chance that I'm going to spin my rear wheels. On a MTB, standing too far forward will cause your wheel to spin out, sitting too far back can cause you to go over backwards. A lot depends on what terrain you're on, too. Rock, mud, gravel, etc. all call for different tactics. I think it really just comes down to a matter of experience. I don't think there is a one size fits all answer. Clipless pedals can help, but make sure you know how to get out of them in case you find you can't make it all the way up and have to bail out. Not a good feeling to be tumbling down the hill with your bike still attached to you!
post #5 of 23
Thread Starter 
Thanks for the tips.

Keeping your elbows in is something that will probably help me. I seem to naturally keep them in with the 10-speed bars, and they tend to come out easier on the mountain bike. The tires are pretty good. It could be the surface, I know I need more weight on the rear when it spins, but if the front wheel is off the ground, I probably don't have it too far forward. Maybe I need a smaller front wheel.
If 1st gear isn't for going up steep hills, what's it for? deep mud?

Clips would have helped me out, especially when I mistakenly made that quick shift into 7th instead of 1st; my foot slipped and I got a nasty scrape from the pedal. I'm not too sure how locked in I want to be though.

As to steepness, the spots I'm thinking of are steep enough to worry about going over the bars going down, but don't seem too steep going up, except when the front tire bounces off a rock or log.
post #6 of 23
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ghost
Yeah, I really don't know the first thing about how to ride a mountain bike, especially on the steeps.

Any tips? Should I stand on the pedals or keep my but on the seat going up hill? Are some bikes better at keeping the front wheel down than others? What else can you tell me?
If the hill is long or the trail is slippey / loose then stay in the saddle.

If it's really steep move your butt forward to the nose of the saddle (this helps to keep your front wheel down), elbows back to gut and chin down towards handle bars (this drops your center of gravity). Practice this "cramped up" position on easier slopes first. Move forward and backward on the seat to balance the bike. Avoid sharp fore/aft movements though - like skis in powder, try to find the sweet spot and stay there or thereabouts.

Concentrate on a smooth pedal stroke (clip-in pedals will help here) and accelerate gradually / smoothly. Stomping on the pedals will cause the back wheel to spinout or front wheel to lift.

Seat height is critical, too high and it's difficult to get a smooth pedal stroke, too low = lower performance and hurting knees. Mark your seatpost and check to make sure it isn't slipping down.

Try to keep the same rotational speed by changing gears to easier gears on the way up. If there's a sudden increase in steepness or an obstacle then drop to an easier gear and increase the rotational speed just to get you over the obstacle. (e.g. a tree root / rock etc). Don't go 100% at all times, save 10-20% to get you over the obstacles. Taking the weight off the front wheel as it goes over the obstacle helps too but be sure to get the weight back on to prevent wheel lift.

Likewise When changing gear build up a momentary speed increase and then change gear while pedaling but putting very little pressure on the pedals.

Yes the geometry of some bikes make them more prone to front wheel lift on steep climbs. There are suspension forks available that allow the rider to drop the front end of the bike down on steep climbs (e.g. Marzocchi's "ETA" system).

http://www.mtbbritain.co.uk/way_steep_climbing.html

http://gorp.away.com/gorp/activity/b...s/sb_climb.htm
post #7 of 23
this really gets my blood flowing.

i consider myself to be among the worlds very worst mountain bikers! having said that i love the sport.

i live in winter park and am out on my bike daily. i wish resorts offered more lessons and or instruction was available. i can't imagine the liability. i'm actually one large bruise/scab all summer.

there is a lot of good info here. i think finding the "sweet spot" on a bike is critical. i can only add three thoughts that seems to help for me. it is going to sound simplistic, however, it really helps me.

1. keep your legs moving
2. look far ahead
3. keep your legs moving

as long as i keep movement in both legs on steeps i can maintain momentum in tough situations. stop for even a split second and i'm in trouble. i try to stay as relaxed as possible and maintain movement.
post #8 of 23
Thread Starter 
Thanks, again everybody!

DB,
Everything you said makes perfect sense, NOW!
"Concentrate on a smooth pedal stroke (clip-in pedals will help here) and accelerate gradually / smoothly. Stomping on the pedals will cause the back wheel to spinout or front wheel to lift."
My mistake, and I would never make the same mistake on a motorbike. I'm just trying so hard to get up that hill, I'm giving it full-throttle. Of course it's going to spin and lift the front wheel .
post #9 of 23
And if you have to walk, is it really that big a deal?
post #10 of 23
Lonnie: And if you have to walk, is it really that big a deal?

About as big a deal as walking down a slope you cannot handle skiing. When I ride my main goal is to stay on the bike regardless of how steep or technical the terrain is. When I race, all bets are off and I will gladly run with my bike up any slope if it is more efficient.

Here is a pic of me in my last race (Canada Cup, sport class). I race my rigid, single speed bike.
525x525px-LL-vbattach723.jpg
post #11 of 23
Tom,

I guess my attitude has developed after riding behind my wife for many years. Quite frequently she'll dab somewhere and I'll be close enough that if I didn't step out, I'd run her over. (Sometimes I'll lag back and push really hard over these areas working on anerobic interval training). At that point, things are generally too steep to get restarted. It's simplier just to walk. She doesn't really dab that often.

To me riding my MTB is about having fun and spending time with her, and sometimes that means I have to check the ego at the door. If I want to go out and hammer, I'll ride my road bike....



L
post #12 of 23
Lonnie,

Nice shot! And your attitude is perfectly OK. I tend to push it a bit (mtb or road) because I also race and for me riding=training.

Sorry Ghost, for taking away from your post, but I don't think I could add much to the excellent advice give from all the riders.
post #13 of 23
Thread Starter 
No worries Tom; you added to it!
post #14 of 23
Tom,

I'll add that this has been a VERY difficult adjustment for me. When it comes to such things, I am definately a "Type A" personality. If you're not going to ride hard, why ride? But when I ride with Laure it has gotten me to slow down and smell the roses, so to speak. And that's a good thing.

L
post #15 of 23
Sorry Rusty, the title of worlds worst MT biker is reserved exclusively for me. I'm sure your battle scars are strictly second rate compared to mine. And Lonnie is right, there is no shame in getting off and walking when it is prudent, especially when you have someone else along to think about. I went biking with a friend who is about ten years younger than I am last fall who lives in the mountains. I told him that I didn't want to do anything too crazy, as I didn't want to risk loosing my ski season by breaking something in an unnecessay fall. Apparently his idea of not too crazy is somewhat different than mine. I was lucky to escape with my life. At my age, going over the handlebars isn't as much fun as it used to be. Better off to do as Lonnie said and take it out on the road, although hitting the asphalt at 30+mph doesn't really appeal to me that much, either. Never really found a graceful way of doing that.
post #16 of 23
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mac
Sorry Rusty, the title of worlds worst MT biker is reserved exclusively for me.
no....i'll fight you for the title

my daughter and i rode at the resort sunday. what amazes me is how very different terrain looks in the summer.

green trails with single track become difficult when plenty of rocks and roots are added to the mix.

the doc has said no more running after a knee replacement so i'm relegated happily to a bike to keep off the pounds.
post #17 of 23
Goin' up hill I stay seated unless the pitch is steep. When standing I shift my weight back a bit to maintain traction, but not too far back or the front wheel will lift.

On important tip: if possible shift down before you start on the hill.

For steep descents shift your weight back, by sliding toward the rear of your saddle. That will reduce the risk of endoing (going over the bars) and the resultant face plant. Also don't be afraid of the front brake, but go easy. The front brake is about 70% of your stopping power. Balance the use of both brakes, but don't skid (loss of control).

And bikes do vary as far as the front end lifting. I could spend hours discussing the geometry of bikes and the effect of head angles toptube length, etc.

Hope I have helped.
post #18 of 23
A few more tips ........

a) When riding up a steep hill never get too close to the person in front of you. Better to stay back a bit and then overtake them if possible when they stop (rather than shunt their back wheel). If you are too close and they slow down for an obstacle you get hit with a double whammy
i.e.
1) First slowing down for them
2) Then hitting the obstacle yourself.

Plus if there's a group of you it tends to avoid the commody "domino fall down the hill together" routine.

Wives, girlfriends, partners tend to perform better when you are not breathing down their neck too. It's a better incentive to kid them that you couldn't catch 'em.


b) On really steep hills balance is critical (fore/aft and lateral). Find a hill where if you fail to get a foot down and fall over there's a soft landing. Practice riding up this hill as slowly as possible (pushing the limits of your balancing skills all the time). This will allow you to slow down when required (e.g. to keep the space between you and the person in front or to recoup energy before tackling a difficult section). Also practice getting the most power down before the front wheel lifts or the rear wheel spins - play around with your weight to find that sweet spot. To get max power down but minimum rear wheel spin, act as though you are accelerating on ice
post #19 of 23
I hear you, Rusty. I went mountain biking at Killington last summer. Ski there all the time, but with the leaves on the trees and grass instead of snow, I was totally lost. Had no idea where I was. By the way, was that you at the Loveland Corn Harvest at the end of April in a Cincy Bengals cap? If so, you look way too young for knee replacement. That's why I stay away from jogging. Want to keep what I got for as long as I can. Too much wear and tear on the body.
post #20 of 23
Thread Starter 
I decided to push myself a little today to try and get into some semblance of shape (other than round). I'm sitting here after my recovery 1/2-litre can of Heineken, and my respiration and heart rate are finally back in the normal range. I just came back from a ride/swim/ride. I took the old 10-speed in case someone made off with it while I was in the middle of the lake. First swim of the year.

I pushed myself to the point of dizziness. Note to self: wait until dizziness clears before tackling steep hills . I went biking yesterday too. The bike pedal took another bite out of my shin. So did my ten-speed today. I'm going to end up with so much scar tissue I won't need shin guards for soccer . I'm not feeling too inadequate though; the kind people that run the trails have put signs on them to boost my moral. I made it up all the black diamonds, and only my knee hitting the shifter and bumping me up a gear prevented me from getting up the double black diamond. I suspect though that trail marking is not standardized in trail bike riding: .

I have to report that keeping the elbows in is a big help. It really helps focus power. I also have to vote that having the shifter on a twist grip is a big improvement over the little levers on the frame. There is a scar on my inner thigh to remind me that shifters can act as vasectomy tools when you pedal hits a rock going downhill: . Thank you Mr. Tree for slowing my forward progress.

One technique I discovered involuntarily,not mentioned yet by anyone else, that seemed to help me is very loud growling while pushing the limits up the hill. Does this help anyone else or am I just an animal?
post #21 of 23
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ghost
I decided to push myself a little today to try and get into some semblance of shape (other than round). I'm sitting here after my recovery 1/2-litre can of Heineken, and my respiration and heart rate are finally back in the normal range. I just came back from a ride/swim/ride. I took the old 10-speed in case someone made off with it while I was in the middle of the lake. First swim of the year.
Note: Beer is NOT a performance enhancing drug. : :
post #22 of 23
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ghost
One technique I discovered involuntarily,not mentioned yet by anyone else, that seemed to help me is very loud growling while pushing the limits up the hill. Does this help anyone else or am I just an animal?
While growling may work for you, I prefer the grunting sounds which are similar to the noises made by tennis players at the US Open, Wimbledon, etc.
post #23 of 23
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by SNPete
Note: Beer is NOT a performance enhancing drug. : :
I agree, but it sure feels good AFTER a good workout, especially if it's a cold lager on a hot day .
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