Fight the Burn: How to Take on a Steep Uphill Trail and Live to Tell the Tale

September 6, 2008 by  
Filed under Tips

mountain biking uphill 218x300 Fight the Burn:  How to Take on a Steep Uphill Trail and Live to Tell the TaleEvery biker on the planet would agree that the best part to a ride is down hill. This is where it all comes together in a symphony of speed, adrenaline and skill. However, unless you live in a different physical plane than the rest of us, the truth of the matter is that to go down a hill also requires going up a hill.  The problem is that in truth, the bigger the down, the bigger the up. So the trick in climbing up any hill is to know how to do it to make sure not only that you get to the top, but that when you are there you have the energy and desire to go on.

While every rider will eventually discover what works best for them, the following are some suggestions on taking on those uber hills and still have some gas left in the tank.

  • The primary key to taking on any hill is having the skill and endurance too do it. If you are trying to take on a steep incline and you have only started biking that day, you might want to reconsider. Even the best bikers in the world took some time getting in shape and learning correct biking techniques. Do the same favor for yourself and make sure you are ready before trying to take on Mount Everest.
  • Momentum is another important part of climbing a hill. The more momentum you have, the easier the beginning of the incline will be. The easier the beginning the more gas you have for the middle and end of the hill. When you see the big hill coming, get your speed up and attack it with a good amount of speed and force. Also remember to gear down a bit before you start the climb. Gearing down after you have started is going to create some possible problems.
  • Once you are on the hill keep the pace steady and remember to breathe well. Trying to go to fast or hyperventilating will have you running out of steam long before you reach the top. Maintain a consistent speed on the pedals and keep your breathing rhythmic. This will help you out a lot as breathing right helps gets oxygen to those tired muscles that are working to keep you in motion.  Read more

Riding Green – 10 Tips for Riding Responsibly

August 28, 2008 by  
Filed under Tips

As mountain bikers, we often pride ourselves as being ‘green’ outdoors-folks; individuals who would rather spend a day outside sweating and grunting up a mountain, than sitting inside and watching the PGA Tour. We tend to be more of the trash-recycling, organic Whole-Foods eating, micro-brew drinking, free-trade coffee sipping and earth-loving crowd. Yet do we practice our progressive “green” habits on the trail as well? As we mount our aluminum, carbon fiber and titanium beasts of speed, we often forget that the trails we ride on are actually fragile living beings. They’re comprised of roots that grow, layers of rock and mud that constantly shift, and living plants and organisms that anchor their sides. A trail left unridden will actually grow-over and disappear given enough time. But abusing a trail will actually destroy its somewhat fragile structure and ‘kill’ it even faster.

So with that being said, when you’re out ripping-it-up on your favorite trail, please keep these ‘green’ riding tips in mind.

1) Stay on the trail.

Sure, that tree stump or natural rock ramp a couple feet off the trail might be all too tempting for a quick jump or bunny-hop, but the fact is that it is not part of your trail. Where one goes, others are sure to follow… As your tread marks are much more visible on the softer off-trail, other riders are going to follow your fresh path to that ‘hidden’ jump… Before you know it, your ‘little secret’ is now everyone’s favorite hop-spot and the once narrow groomed trail is now a sprawling free-for-all playground.

2) Ride through puddles, not around them! ride puddle 300x214 Riding Green   10 Tips for Riding Responsibly

Riding around a puddle only compacts the ground surrounding the puddle, leveling it lower and allowing the puddle to grow. I’m sure we’ve all seen it, trails that pinch and bloat where wet-sections are prominent. Seems like nobody wants to ride their $2000 mountain bike through a little mud… c’mon folks, it’s a knobby bike, not a road bike! Trust me – your bike’s bearings and seals can take much more grit than a few calm puddles can dish out.

Fact is, the center of the puddle has the most compacted base. That is why the puddle is not being absorbed by the trail. By riding around the circumference, you are actually compressing the softer, more fragile edge of the puddle, which will inevitably either compact, allowing the puddle to grow and the trail to bloat, or it will contribute to overall trail erosion. The best thing you can do for the trail is ride right smack-dab through the center. Eventually the puddle will dry up, but the damage to trails from poor puddle-riding is irreversible.

So when you see that puddle up ahead, get some speed, coast through the center and don’t forget to keep your mouth shut. Or if you simply don’t want to get a little dirty… God forbid… dismount your bike and walk across.

3) Stay in-line, No Shortcuts.

Shortcutting causes erosion. Trails are built and designed to take a beating – either by foot, hoof or tire. Everything else should be considered fragile ecosystem. 2 feet off the trail is still off-the-trail. If a log, tree, boulder or other obstacle blocks your trail, your only options should be to bunny-hop over or pause your ride, dismount your bike, and carry your bike over the obstacle before continuing. Just like puddles, a trail will grow and bloat when riders take short cuts.

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