There is definitely a learning curve when it comes to learning the ropes of mountain biking. We’d like to outline the top five mistakes beginners make when just starting out on the trail. There are a lot of things to learn, but these are some of our top things to look out for when just starting out.
1. Not Using One Finger When Braking
Braking is not just about slowing down or coming to a stop—it has a lot to do with speed management and momentum control. Finding the middle ground between braking too hard or not enough is something every rider should place importance on. A technique that is essential in facilitating this process is one-finger braking.
One-finger braking, sometimes known as Covering, is something familiar to many advanced riders. It is the process of having your hands gripping the bar while hovering over the brakes with your index finger. This allows you to stay fully in control of the bike while you make small adjustments to your speed with the brakes. You may need to adjust the placement of your brake levers on your handlebar to find the spot where you’re comfortable using one finger to press the brake while maintaining a firm grip on the bars.
2. Not Keeping Pedals Level Through Technical Sections
When not pedaling, keeping your feet level while heading down the trail not only allows for pedal clearance but also gives more stability by offering more even weight distribution. Keeping a pedal down during technical sections can cause pedal strikes on roots, rocks, and more—potentially leading to crashes and injury.
3. Not Looking Far Enough Down the Trail
Keeping your line of sight further down the trail allows you to better prepare for upcoming jumps or technical sections. It is sometimes hard not to focus directly in front of you as you ride, but it is much more beneficial to start looking 15-20 feet forward so you are able to better anticipate upcoming turns, technical sections, or potential hazards on the trail.
4. Gripping Too Tight
It’s key to keep a relaxed grip while riding on the trail. It’s many beginner’s first instincts to have a “Death Grip” while riding. Mountain biking can be intense—especially when you’re first starting out! This; however, is a mistake. It is much easier to make subtle movements and adjustments necessary while utilizing a nice, relaxed grip on the bar.
5. Sitting Down Too Much
Mountain biking is inherently intense, some may say aggressive. That means you need to be similarly intense or aggressive with your body mechanics in order to properly perform. By sitting down on your saddle too often, you are limiting your range of movement and dampening your ability to gain momentum and use it efficiently. Try and get out of your saddle as often as you can comfortably—especially while descending on the trail.