Mountain biking is possibly the most fun you can have on two wheels. There’s something incredibly satisfying about discovering new trails from an altered vantage point while giving your knees and running muscles a bit of a reprieve.
However, by virtue of the name – mountain biking – it inevitably involves going not just up hill, but also downhill. And for a novice biker, downhill mountain biking can be a fairly terrifying prospect. Add in a few tree roots, rocks, drop-offs and lumps – and suddenly, you can find yourself in a whole world of hurt if you’re not confident of your abilities.
Like anything, riding a mountain bike downhill takes practice, but here are three top mountain biking tips to get you started on your next adventure.
Look down your line
It’s seriously tempting to stare at your front wheel when mountain biking downhill. But if you’re going to descend safely and in one piece, then you need to avoid this temptation and instead look down your line and, most importantly, COMMIT TO IT.
Maintain a neutral position
If you want to avoid your face making contact with the ground in front of you, then you need to try and maintain a neutral position. This is achieved by ensuring you keep your center of gravity in the middle of the bike, your pedals level (called the platform) and your rear end hovering towards the rear of the seat. If your bike seat is quite high, you might want to lower it a little.
Feather your brakes
It’s all too easy to hang on to your brakes when going downhill, especially when you’re not following the above mountain biking tips. But if you grip your brakes too hard, you’ll end up locking up your wheels, which will in turn cause you to skid, or worse yet, go over your handlebars. So, the best thing you can do is feather your breaks lightly. This will also prevent your brake pads getting too hot – a tell-tale sign being when you can actually smell them.