New riders or seasoned veterans alike should brush up on their basics, here’s how to get started with coach Katy Curd.
Understanding how to ride well doesn’t mean you need to put in years of practice and become a full-blown expert. It just requires you to understand what techniques work and why, and then apply them in the appropriate contexts. These foundational skills will help you to maintain control for a more effortless ride. If you are new to riding, focusing on these key techniques will give you a noticeable progression in the level of confidence you bring to the trails. If you have been riding for a while, honing these key areas will help take your riding to the next level and allow you to maintain speed and flow for a smoother ride.
When riding any trail, our aim is to stay centered on the bike to allow us to relax and stabilise the bike while riding at speed. Stand tall in your legs with a slight bend at the knees and waist to then create a bend in your elbows. Keep your hips above your saddle and your chin above your stem. This centered position should allow you to put your weight through your feet, stay light on your hands and balanced on the bike while it moves around underneath you, without being bucked about.
The main focus when you’re riding a corner is to maintain grip. We need to find a balance between the bike leaning over and our position on the bike, to stop the tyres from sliding out. The idea is to push your weight into the outside pedal (the flatter the turn, the further you’ll need to drop your pedal). Use your head, shoulders and hips to start pivoting towards the exit of the corner. Keep your elbows bent and your chest low to the bike to allow it to start leaning over in the corner.
This is absolutely crucial but probably the one key skill that slips your mind the second you start to get nervous. Keep your eyes looking ahead down the trail – the further you look, the quicker you can react. Try to spot the next feature on the trail, and a good line through that feature too, so you’re confident to ride it and stay well in control. You will go where you look, so keep your eyes focused on where you want to go, rather than looking at the things you want to avoid hitting.
The coach: Katy Curd
Katy knows a thing or two about technique, she’s a former 4X national champ, a pro downhill rider and now she runs Katy Curd Coaching in the Forest of Dean.