Mountain Bike riding is one heck of a workout, which you're probably well aware of by now. You can't help but feel despondent when someone just rockets past you, fresh as a daisy. The only thing is, you saw them riding three hours ago and they're still going strong. "What's the secret" we hear you scream, with only the forest to hear your cries for help. Well, we hear you and are here to shed some light on the biggest secret of them all.
During a two hour MTB ride, there are plenty of opportunities to waste energy and wear yourself down. We're going to highlight a handful of ways to shred trails until the sun sets, hopefully leave you with enough energy to get yourself home afterwards. Let's go!!!
Corners have the ability to suck the energy right out of you, especially if they're nice and tight. This is a perfect spot to lose your momentum, as well as the energy you require later on in your ride.
You fly into the corner, slam on the brakes and lose all your speed. You then realise you're in a monster gear and you're going too slowly to change gears. So you make do, and grind your way out of the corner in an attempt to regain your speed, before doing it all over again. Sound familiar?
Change into an easier gear as you come into the corner at the correct speed. Slow enough to release the brakes completely and freewheel through the corner. NO BRAKES while actually making the turn. You'll then exit the corner at a faster speed than you entered, before you start pedaling in your easier gear. Simply pedal, click up one gear, and repeat. Pedal, click, pedal, click, pedal, click... Away you go!
Rock gardens are usually between 30 and 100 meters in length which is plenty of time to lose all of your speed! Line choice is important, so take the time to get off your bike and analyse the smoothest way to ride the section.
You exit a corner, and spot the rock garden. You're going pretty darn fast, so you just point and shoot... Straight down the middle of the rock garden, with no regard to technique or efficiency. People call you 'Jackhammer' behind your back, because of the way you thump through the rough stuff.
You exit a corner, and spot the rock garden. You also see the smoothest line with the least turns is actually to the far right. You slow down slightly, before entering your line. You spot your exit and ride towards it, with arms and knees bent. You absorb all the shock with your body, and stand well centred on the bike. People applaud and start a Facebook page in your honor.
The trail will always go upwards no matter what. It's easy to lose seconds and even minutes up a climb especially if you do it the hard way. The excuse of "hills don't suit me" won't cut it anymore. This is you against yourself, so here's how to win.
You reach the bottom of a climb but forget to change gears. By the time you realise it's time to change into an easier gear, you've lost all your speed. You officially hate hills.
You spot the hill, and realise you'll have to change gears soon. As you start the actual climb, you change down one gear at a time. You only change gears as you need, to avoid dropping through three gears and spinning your legs off (again losing all momentum). You still hate hills, but in a loving way. You reach the top and slowly reverse the process of your gear changes, as you now click up on gear at a time as your speed slowly increases.
Obstacles do an incredibly good job at slowing you down. How on earth are you supposed to keep your speed, when some trail artist has littered the track with logs, roots, rocks and drop offs!? It's time you learnt some basic skills.
As you approach the obstacle (log in this instance) you slow down to walking pace, and slam into the log. It's tough on your body, as the impact leaves you feeling pretty shaken. Your helmet is now covering your eyes, but you made it over the log, right! Wrong...
As you approach the log, you slow down to accommodate your skill level limitations. You lift the front wheel as you sharply throw your weight backwards. The front wheel clears the log, and the back wheel then rolls over the log. It's much easier on your bike and your body, and you maintain much more speed.
These skills are just the tip of the iceberg, when it comes to reducing your loss of energy. You'll notice that all these skills make reference to maintaining speed, which is the best way to maintain energy (or reduce the loss of said energy). Always strive to ride smoothly before trying to ride faster. You must remember that smooth riding leads to faster and longer rides so start at square one and work your way forwards!