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.
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 happens.)
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.
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.
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 steering.