Dirt Skills MTB Coaching: Part 2, Body Position
Welcome to week two of Essential Dirt Skills.
Before we get going let’s start with a reminder that when you chose mountain biking, you accepted the risks involved. All too often we try to pass the blame instead of taking responsibility for our own decisions.
When you ride a bike, you are the one who is in control, no one can make you do something you are uncomfortable with. If you are riding and something feels off, maybe you had a few too many beers last night and your mind is working a little slower than normal, please don’t try to push your limits too far. There is no point ending a ride early because of a silly mistake doing something you would usually have ridden away from.
In this weeks Essential Dirt Skills we are going to talk about body position, a rider who knows how to correctly position their weight is a rider who will corner faster, jump more safely and attack the trails with confidence. We are going to discuss three basic riding positions, the neutral, attack and climbing positions and tell you where and why you should use these techniques.
This is your ‘go to’ position when standing.
With pedals level, hips above the seat and chin over the stem, this position should be comfortable enough to hold for even the longest descents. Make sure arms and legs are relaxed and slightly bent, these are the best suspension you have and are maintained for a fraction of the cost of a new shock!
In this position your weight will be centred and stable, you should be able to relax enough to recover between technical sections while maintaining great grip from your tyres.
Low and wide, this one is for when things get steep or technical. Whether you’re between the tape or chasing a KOM the lower you can centre your weight, the more aggressively you will be able to ride.
The attack position also has level pedals with hips above seat and chin over stem but our weight is low. While learning this one your arms and legs will be burning, take your time and build up to it gradually. Choose your favourite down hill and set yourself some goals, this week stay low until we clear the first jump, next week push through to half way, before you know it you will be able to attack a whole track.
For some of us climbing is fun, for most of us, climbing is something we suffer to get back to the start of the fun parts. Whichever reason it is for you, having the correct climbing technique will leave your mates in the dust and have them wondering where you found time for all that extra fitness training.
For the most efficient climbing you should be positioned towards the front of your seat, it’s not the most comfortable place to sit but your body soon adapts. If you can see a little bit of the seat sticking out behind your bum then you are probably sitting in the correct position.
When the hills get really steep, bending at the hips to bring the chest forward and as low as possible will get you full grip and stop that rear wheel from breaking traction, spinning a wheel on a steep climb loses all momentum and is always tough to recover from. For most of us this is a perfect opportunity to get off and walk, for some of us failing to reach the top is a deal breaker. I’m a downhiller at heart but have, on occasion turned around to have another go, I don’t like to let anything beat me!
These positions have our bases pretty well covered, although we need to remember that mountain biking involves ever changing terrain and we continually fine tune our position to make sure our weight is centered and our bike has maximum grip. Once this fine tuning becomes second nature it will be time to start sending it sideways and roosting through corners. (Disclaimer: berm destruction is not recommended, this isn’t golf, but please fix your divots!)