Reading the trail ahead and
being in the correct gear will
help you maintain your flow,
increase your speed, conserve
energy and prepare you for
Avoiding trail-user conflicts
is the number-one reason to pay
attention to what’s coming up
next. Never assume you are the
only one on the trail.
While coasting downhill,
remind yourself to grab a few
gears harder, so when you have
to pedal, you are in a gear that
closely matches your speed.
Having resistance when you
apply power to the pedals is key.
You don’t want to have too little
resistance or you will “chop
wood,” getting no acceleration.
Momentum can be the only
thing that gets you up a short or
technical climb. Carrying speed
into the climb and generating
forward momentum when you
spin the cranks is crucial. If you
are in too tall of a gear, gravity
will punish you and you won’t
have time to downshift without
losing all that speed.
Looking ahead and choosing the
perfect gear combination comes with
time on the bike. It is easier to practice on a trail that you’re familiar
When approaching a switchback, continue to look 10–15
feet ahead, but turn your head
all the way to the trail past the
switchback, where you want to
end up. Keep your pedaling up
to maintain momentum, and
keep your head turned until you
reach the straightaway.
Grab a trail map! We all have
that favorite loop where we have
memorized every rut, rock and
turn. This spring, try something
new, even if it’s just a loop to
add or a climb you have never
done. Grab a map and study it.
You will be amazed by what is
right around the bend that you
When descending, you want
to have level pedals (at the 3
and 9 o’clock positions) so your
inside pedal doesn’t hit the
ground in a corner.
Pedals are the most over-torqued part on a bicycle. Pedal
wrenches are usually huge (for
removing over-tightened pedals)
and provide way too much leverage. Just gently snug them; don’t
ream on them.
Remember to rotate your pedals when coasting to determine if you are in the
Avoid late-braking skidding into corners. Doing so might feel faster (and,
in some instances, it could be), but
done over and over again, it will cost
momentum and control.
There is no rule that your feet
should be clipped in at all times.
On off-camber sections or in
loose corners, it is okay to unclip
your inside foot in case your
tires wash out.
The skills learned by spending
time on a pump track (
generating speed without pedaling and
railing a berm) translate very
well to trail riding. Every bump
becomes a momentum generator.
Always bring a tube, pump
and multi-tool on your rides.
Ending a ride on foot is about
the worst way to get back to the
16 Threaded parts on a bike should go in by hand. If you
have to force it in, there’s
something wrong. From bottom
brackets to pedals to water bottle
bolts and everything in between,
start by threading things by hand
before going to the wrench and
damaging your expensive parts
When you install a new
handlebar, resist the temptation
to simply measure your old one
and cut the new one down to
the same length. Instead, try the
bar uncut for a couple rides. You
may find a wider bar gives you
more stability and control and
lessens fatigue. Always measure
your preferred width and make
note of it.