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Attack the Singletrack!, Issue #011 -- Top 10 Mountain Biking Tips of 2010
January 21, 2011

Catch the Buzz on Playing in the Dirt

Attack the Singletrack! Issue #011 -- Top 10 Mountain Biking Tips of 2010

Attack the Singletrack brings you mountain bike tips to help you become a better rider and enjoy mountain biking more.

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Top 10 Mountain Biking Tips of 2010 Attack the Singletrack!

Are you trying to remember a tip of the month you read in one of our newsletters, but can't remember where to find it? Have you recently subscribed to Attack the Singletrack! and want to get caught up? No worries! Here are the top tips from our 2010 newsletters combined in one location.

Top 10 Mountain Biking Tips of 2010 Attack the Singletrack!

1. Dare the Downhill Steeps

When going down steep downhill sections, keep your weight back behind the seat. Drop your heels so you are behind the pedals rather than on top of them. If it is a long downhill section, drop your seat 3-4 inches. Not only does this help prevent you from going over the handlebars, but it is a blast to ride like with your seat down low!

2. Stay Well-Rounded

Try pedaling in a circular motion rather than only on the downstroke. This allows you to use your glutes, calves, hamstrings, and hip flexors in addition to your quads. You have to have clipless pedals to pedal this way.

In order to improve my stroke and help me feel which muscles I needed to use to pedal in a more circular motion, it helped me to try pedaling with one foot while trying to keep tension all the way around the pedal stroke.

Once you master this circular pedaling technique, shift forward in your seat to work your quads more. Shift back to work them less and emphasize your hamstrings and glutes. This will help you stay strong when certain leg muscles get tired.

3. Know How to Find Hot Deals

Fall and winter are great times of the year to find huge discounts on mountain bikes, parts, accessories, and clothing. This is the time of year when the new models and products are coming out and companies are trying to get rid of their products from the current and sometimes even previous years.

Because companies are making room for new products and trying to get rid of stuff, they mark things down significantly. I have bought all three of my bikes and also components and clothing in the fall and winter seasons and have always gotten serious discounts.

Get up to 75% off complete bikes and gear here.

One Deal at a Time- Bookmark this link and check back often! This company marks down an item to a ridiculously low price and sells it until it is gone. Then they do it all over again. They have sweet deals!

4. Keep it Light

Carry your tools, spare tubes, water, and food in a hydration pack instead of on your mountain bike. Although you still have the weight on you, it is not on your bike itself, which makes it easier to pick the bike up when necessary on hike-a-bike sections. This also makes it easier to maneuver your mountain bike when doing techniques and tricks such as bunny hopping and wheelies.

I have the Camelbak Rogue which I really like because it is lightweight, but still has room for a multi-tool, tube, tire levers, energy bars, keys, and other necessities. There is a also a place to stow a jacket.

5. Check your Chain, Save your Drivetrain

Replacing your bicycle chain when needed is very important because if it wears past a certain point, it will cause wear in your chain rings and cassette so that they have to be replaced, which can become costly.

In order to measure your bicycle chain wear, all you need is a ruler or tape measure. Measure 12 inches from the center of one of the left pins on a chain link. The left pin center of the 12th chain link from that spot should be right at the 12 inch mark. If the center of the pin is more than 1/16" past the mark, the chain needs to be replaced. If it is more than 1/8" past the mark you may also need to replace the chain rings and/or cassette.

To learn more about how to maintain and replace your bike chain, check out our Mountain Bike Chain page.

6. Hang Loose!

If your muscles are tight and tense while riding, it is a waste of energy. Keep your body loose while riding and avoid tightening up your muscles. This can be difficult mentally while approaching tough technical sections because we get nervous and our body tightens up, but try to relax and let your mountain bike do its thing.

Slightly bend your knees and elbows so they help absorb the bumps and obstacles. With tight arms and legs, it's easy to get catapulted off your mountain bike. Staying loose also lowers your center of gravity.

Keep your elbows out and up. This helps you get more air into your lungs and also gives you more power and control

7. Improve your Ride Without Spending a Cent

Decrease your tire pressure. You will be amazed at what a difference it will make in your ride! Running less air in your tires improves traction and helps your tires grip the ground. It also improves balance and control because it allows a larger part of the tire to have contact with the ground.

Too much air in your tires causes them to lose traction easier. They also will bounce off rocks or other obstacles rather than riding over them.

Try decreasing your tire pressure in small increments, like 5 psi at a time. You will know when you hit the right pressure because it will feel right and you will ride better. This sweet spot varies based on your weight.

You know you have gone too low with your tire pressure if your tire rolls under the rim during hard cornering. Also, be careful that you don't go so low that you get a pinch flat, which is when the tube gets pinched between the rim and a rock or other object. You can tell if it it a pinch flat because your tube will have two holes that look like a snake bite.

8. Torn Tire Treasure

A torn tire casing can be a big problem if you are out on the trail and do not have a way to repair it. Fortunately, a simple energy bar wrapper can be used to provide a temporary patch on the tire so that you don't have to hike your bike the whole way back. Plus, you can have a little snack in the process.

Before you completely inflate your new tube or patched tube, place the energy bar wrapper between the tear of the tire and the tube. As you inflate the tube, check to see that the wrapper is in place.

If the tear is small, the patch will work better and you should be able to use normal tire pressure. For larger tears, you will have to use lower air pressure.

A dollar bill can also be used in place of the energy bar wrapper.

9. Greasy Gunk be Gone

If you use a dry or wax lubricant on your bicycle chain, you shouldn't have much difficulty keeping your cassette cogs clean, but the wet lubes can leave a black greasy mess that gets between the cogs and is hard to clean. I usually use a dry lube for my chain, but I borrowed some wet lube from a friend the other day before riding. By the time I got to cleaning the cassette, it was hard to get it clean even with citrus degreaser and brushes.

I found that using a little bit of bike lube took the gunk off. I just squeeze a little bit of dry lubricant on a clean dry rag and wipe off the cassette cogs by moving the rag in a flossing motion between each cog. This is easier to do if you remove the rear wheel from the bike. No need to use a lot of lubricant because that will cause dirt and dust to stick to to cogs. Just a little bit for the stubborn greasy areas and then wipe off.

10. Visit the Other Side

I used to only mountain bike and not road bike. Several of my mountain biking buddies told me that if I road biked, I would become a stronger mountain biker. A couple years ago, I took their advice and bought a road bike. They were right!

Road biking has definitely improved my mountain biking abilities significantly! I have much more endurance now because on a road bike, you can work more on endurance when doing long rides and hill climbs; whereas, on a mountain bike we tend to do more short energy bursts while climbing and then rest on the downhill sections.

I have even found that road biking can actually be fun! Plus, it's a great way to stay in shape when you can't mountain bike because the mountain biking trails are muddy or snowy in the fall and spring.

Thanks for checking out Mountain Bike Buzz and subscribing to my newsletter. I look forward to passing along more information to you in 2011 and wish you a year filled with singletrack bliss :).

As always, enjoy the ride!

Mary Blomquist
Mountain Bike Buzz

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