Spice up your riding and boost your skills by turning any urban street into a practice run, ready for the next time you hit the dirt
Find some flattish steps and try riding up them. This really helps to hone your timing with bike movements and pedal strokes.
Even though the surface may seem grippy, the sharp edges of the steps react just like slippery roots when you put too much power down.
On the trail: Steps can feel exactly like rocky rain-washed gulleys or rooty climbs.
Watch how to tackle technical climbs
Choose your steps carefully — you need to know nobody is going to come round the corner at the bottom. Roll over the edge and you’re committed, so get off the back of the bike, keep the front wheel straight and use only the rear brake if possible — avoid braking hard with the front at all costs!
On the trail: Steps build confidence and body shape, both of which are perfect for steep chutes on trails.
See every wall or curb as a practice ground for drops. If you’re lucky you’ll find a sloping wall that lets you gradually increase the drop size, and build up bigger, smoother and better pedal-stroke timing.
On the trail: Landing in a controlled manner comes into its own when you fly off a bank to a flat landing mid-trail.
Make skateparks your friend — they’ve got things they call ‘fun boxes’, which are tabletops with concave lips to boost you into a jump.
Remember it’s not just about clearing a gap, it’s about control, so if you can clear the gap easily, try landing as smooth as you can, or front wheel first or, if you feel particularly competent, then landing in a manual.
On the trail: It’s rare you find a well built jump on a trail to practise on, but you’ll be better prepared for jumps you used to ride around.