On climbs or hard sections of
trail, pick a tree, rock or bush as
a finish line, and go as hard as
you can to it. As the weeks roll
by, extend the length of your
interval until eventually you are
hammering the whole section.
Learn how to track stand.
Knowing how to balance your
bike at a standstill will vastly
improve your skills through technical climbs at slow speeds.
Roll out of bed and stretch.
Fifteen minutes of stretching
every morning will help you move
around the bike and help you limber up.
Don’t wear a jersey with a
mesh back on sunny rides. You
will sunburn even if your hydration pack covers part of your
back. A lightweight material with
a sunscreen rating is your best
Your helmet’s side retention
straps need to form a Y just below
your ear. Every helmet has a
slightly different way of dialing
in this adjustment, so you have to
refer to the owner’s manual if you
can’t figure out the adjustment
piece. The strap that runs under
your chin should be snug enough
so that when you yawn, the helmet pulls down on your head.
Dump out the contents of
your hydration pack and repack
it from scratch. Get rid of any
duplicate tools, obsolete replacement parts or empty Gu packs.
You might be surprised what
you find hibernating in the
When in trouble on the trail
(mechanical or physical), take
an inventory of everything on
your body, bike and in your
pack. Many times you will find a
solution to your problem.
If you get a lot of puncture
flats, try a product like Mr.
Tuffy’s Bicycle Tire Liners. It is
like giving your tire a bulletproof
vest. They add weight, but we’ll
take weight over flat tires.
A tire’s sidewall has lots of
information if you look closely
enough, including the intended
direction of the tread pattern
and maximum/minimum tire
pressures. Don’t go past the
recommended maximum tire
pressure, but experiment with
the minimum pressure and tire
direction. Mounting the “wrong
way” can reduce rolling resistance or improve traction (but
probably not both). Going below
the minimum tire pressure may
result in a more comfortable
Some brands opt for a low bottom
bracket height to improve a bike’s handling. The trade-off is pedal clearance.
You can’t really coast up a hill (don’t
we wish), so the trick is to time your
pedaling so the pedals miss contact
with rocks or roots. This might require
a quick quarter-turn backpedal as you
approach an obstacle (and that hurts
your forward momentum) or a short
burst of increased cadence.
Don’t accept prolonged pain from
your bike fit. Yes, it takes some time on
the bike to strengthen the muscles to
support your riding position, but this
should not be a life sentence of misery.
Get fit to your bike at a reputable bike
shop or by a bike-fit specialist.
Kick back and put your feet
up. Elevate your legs when
relaxing. It will help your legs
get rid of built-up lactic acid and
feel less sore.
Ride your regular route backwards. Seeing your local trails
in reverse will make them new
Pamper yourself. Self-massage
after riding. Invest in a foam
roller, muscle-massager stick or
work over your legs with your
hands and elbows. Dispersing
lactic acid built up in your legs
will help you come back stronger the next day.
Chocolate milk has been
shown to contain the carbohydrates and protein necessary for
proper recovery, and it tastes
Don’t start thinking about hydrating
the moment you hit the trail. Be sure
to be drinking enough water regularly
if you are planning on being active in
the heat. Plan to keep hydrating after
your ride as well. Bring a cooler in your
car to keep drinks cold. A bottle of
100-degree water won’t be very appealing after a hard ride.
Never tighten a bolt halfway,
or think to yourself, “I’ll get to
that later.” Bolts like the stem
clamp are easy to forget if you’re
itching to get out to the trail,
but not tightening it can quickly
put your face in the dirt. While
you’re thinking about it, tighten
the bolt. Always finish the job
now, not later. ❏