Posted by: cdmmtb | December 7, 2012

Riding Tip of the Day – Get Off Your Butt!

High School coach Josh demonstrates the low standing position on a steep downhill. Imagine how much hairier this would look if if he was sitting upright on his seat!

High School coach Josh demonstrates the low standing position on a steep downhill. Imagine how much hairier this would look if he was sitting upright on his seat!

Want to ride better, safer and more in control? Get off your butt! 

A classic mistake for new mountain bikers is to sit on the bike seat when coasting and going downhill.

While it may feel more secure to be sitting, when your butt is on the seat, you’re forfeiting control and balance because:

  • Your center of gravity is up high – at seat level as a matter of fact
  • When you apply the brakes or hit an object with your front tire, your weight quickly shifts forward onto your hands and arms and ruins your balance
  • You’re not using the largest and strongest shock absorbers at your disposal – your legs
  • It’s much more difficult to brake and turn the bike properly

To gain bike control and confidence, you’ve got to get low. To get low, you’ve got to get off your butt and stand up.

Sound counterintuitive?  Think about center of gravity again – when you stand on your pedals, your weight is on your feet instead of your butt. That makes it much easier to resist the forces of braking and obstacles, and allows the bike to move around underneath you.

So after getting off your butt and standing up:

  1. Level your pedals so they are parallel to the ground
  2. Hinge at your hips until your back is flat and parallel to the ground
  3. Make “chicken wings” with your arms by bending your elbows out to the sides (not straight down)

At this point your butt will be well behind the seat, your weight on the pedals, with legs bent and ready to absorb trail nasties.  This riding position requires a strong core and flexible hips, and many riders (including youthful ones) are unable to stay in this low position for very long. So start doing your planks and stretching those hip flexors!

We’ll be working on this fundamental body position throughout the season, and integrating it into braking, turning, climbing and descending.

Thanks to NICA Skills Director and Kung Fu Master Lee McCormack for his wisdom and the photo.

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