Advanced Mountain Bike Skills for Newer Riders

Hopefully you have had a chance to read our post on “Mountain Bike Skills For New Riders”, this great post covers important aspects of riding including; Cornering and Switchbacks, Body Positioning on the Bike and Braking. At our Avon and Vail bike shops we are proud to sell and rent Giant mountain bikes. Giant has prepared some great videos and we are happy to present those to you with a blow by blow breakdown of how to handle your new mountain bike!

Today’s post is moving forward with some more advanced skills combined with more great videos from Giant and their pro riders! So make sure you have the basics dialed and get ready to learn how to ride standing up on your mountain bike, how to get started if you have stalled on a steep hill and how to ride wood features in both the park and on the trail. This last one will be really appreciated if you ever get to mountain bike the 401 in Crested Butte, at one point you cross an entire marsh on a series of linked 2x6s, you don’t want to eat it into the muck.

How to Ride Standing Up – AKA Bike/Body Separation

  1. First thing you want to do is be loose, there should be a bend in the elbows and knees and a looseness to all your muscles.
  2. Start by coasting neutral, balanced position at medium speed.
  3. Keep your pedals level and your knees bent.
  4. Straighten one arm and then the other, pretend your arms are windshield wipers.
  5. You should feel the saddle tap the inside of each leg.
  6. Look forward, not down at your bike.
  7. Practice leaning the bike to steer around obstacles while standing.
  8. Just look, lean and the bike will go in the direction you want it to go.
  9. Use these new skills to dodge rocks, navigate technical root sections and tackle tight corners.
  10. Using standing techniques are really helpful when moving at slower speeds.

Starting and Stopping on an Uphill

  1. If you are losing momentum or traction or the riding is getting to technical, and need to get off the bike on a steep uphill? Look where you want to step, move forward on the bike and hit the brakes.
  2. Always make sure you have a safe place to plant to put your foot and go wide for balance.
  3. When you are ready to start again, first lower your dropper seat a little, if you have one.
  4. Make sure the bike is in an easier gear, you may need to pick the rear wheel up and shift the bike down before starting.
  5. Get set by applying the brakes and raising the lead pedal slightly above parallel.
  6. Start to pedal as you release the brakes using light and even pedal strokes.
  7. Raise your dropper seat after you have the bike moving again.
  8. If there is a side cut your free foot when starting should be on the uphill side, you can also use a rock or log as a helper as well.
  9. Keep thoughts positive and stay in the game, once the bike gets moving it will get easier.

Ride long enough and you will come across “Skinnies” (the name of wooden features on trails), sometimes these are just for fun and sometimes they serve a purpose to cross a creek or un-ridable terrain. These can be intimidating as often the fall consequences seem higher as you are actually higher off the ground. But don’t worry, with a little confidence these Skinnies are not a threat to be intimidated by.

  1. As you approach stand up with the pedals in a neutral position, this will help you keep better balance.
  2. Keep the weight evenly distributed between both pedals.
  3. Scan the entire skinny to understand what you are up against but then look to the finish to remain on track.
  4. Ride into the skinny with a little speed as momentum helps keep balanced.
  5. Move the bike side to side to adjust instead of using the steering.
  6. Pedaling can make it harder to stay balanced but it is better than slowing too much.
  7. If you need to bail and the skinny is lower than two feet and there is a clear area simply aim the bike where you want to go and roll off. If the skinny is to high off the ground to safely roll off you will want to load the bike and bunny hop off with level wheels and let the bike absorb the landing.

As you master these skills you will be ready to start to take on advanced mountain bike trails and take your riding to the next level!