How Mountain Biking Works

Mountain Biking Tricks

Now that you've mastered the basics, let's look at some of the more advanced mountain biking tricks. Before heading out on the trails, riders should understand how to control their bikes and, more importantly, how to stop. Mountain bikes can have a variety of gear configurations depending on the type of bike you're using and the model you've chosen. Use your low gears for climbing hills, riding into the wind or for excursions that involve frequent stopping and starting. On these low gears, you'll travel a smaller distance for each revolution of the pedals, which can help with maintaining control.

When traveling downhill or on flat, easy courses, stick with the higher gears. High gears allow the bike to travel a greater distance with each revolution, which can make your ride more comfortable. As you gain more experience with your biking, you'll learn how to switch your gears for any kind of riding scenario.

One of the most important parts of riding is knowing how to stop safely. While brakes may seem self-explanatory, it can be easy to panic while out on the trail, which may lead to injury. To stay safe, practice proper braking techniques at all times, and know how your brakes operate. You should always keep your hands on the brakes so you can respond quickly to unforeseen conditions. The rear brake is usually on the right handlebar. This brake is used the most often and is less sensitive than the front brake, which is typically on the left handlebar. Always brake slowly instead of squeezing too hard. If you squeeze the rear brake too quickly, you may skid out of control, while squeezing the front brake too fast may flip your body over the handlebars. As you ride, learn to combine the front and the back brakes to stop easily and with control [source: Jones].

Once you can stop safely and control your bike, it's time to step it up a bit. Advanced mountain biking isn't simply about fancy tricks and bigger airtime. Many advanced riders can find a new challenge in learning to improve endurance, which can make riding smoother and more fun. After all, it's hard to enjoy the view when you can't catch your breath. Start by checking your cadence. The ideal cadence on a mountain bike should range from 80 to 100 revolutions per minute (RPMs). This will give you maximum speed and control while allowing you to enjoy long rides comfortably. To get your cadence in the right range, focus on pedaling in a circular motion. Think of pushing and pulling each pedal rather than simply moving your feet up and down. You'll get more distance for each stroke, resulting in a smoother ride [source: Burke].

Ready for even bigger thrills? Experiment with a few jumps and hops. Try lifting your handlebars slightly as you go over a small hill or log. This will lift your front tire and give you the feel of freeriding. If you find that you enjoy these types of mountain biking tricks, look for local freeriding or freestyling groups. They will often have courses designed so you can practice advanced tricks in a safe, controlled environment before moving out on your own.