Climb the toughest of bike trails without bonking – and
descend with total control. We chatted to Todd Wells, an Olympic
mountain biker and member of the SRAM/TLD Factory Racing team, to get the down
low on getting down and dirty.
1. Fine-tune your ride
Set your tyre pressure to 20 000 pascals,
which gives your tyres enough flexibility to grip the trail during ascents
without bottoming out onto the rim during descents. Lube the chain and make
sure both wheels’ quick releases are tightly closed. (Don’t laugh – it
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2. Set a solid pace
Beginners default to the lowest gear on
ascents. But for a stronger climb, you want to pedal at the same rate the whole
time, saving a few low gears just in case. Shift to maintain your cadence.
Resist the urge to stand – this takes weight off the back tyre. You need that
weight to maintain traction.
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3. Power over obstacles
As you approach rocks or logs, centre your
weight over the back tyre to prevent slipping. Lean slightly over the handlebar
so your front end doesn’t lift. Raise the bar just enough to initiate a climb
over the obstacle. Avoid bunny hops, which kill momentum.
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4. Control your descent
In sections with rocks or roots, don’t
pedal. Keep your eyes locked in front of your tyre. Your speed is right if you
feel in control and can scan the terrain for obstacles in your peripheral
vision. Keep your feet level so your weight stays transferable. Check your
speed by feathering the front brake with small pumps. If you need to slow down
during a turn, use the back brake so your front wheel is solely devoted to
This article was originally published on www.mh.co.za
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