Spoke Talk: Riding flow
I go up to go down, and mountain biking is what keeps me sane while I can’t ski. The two are so similar: one can ride the gondola and shred the bike park downhill trails on the same mountain we ski and ride in winter, or pedal to the top of mountains in order to earn your turns, similar to skinning up a mountain in winter.
When riding the bike park, our bikes are tuned for downhill, ready to roll down when we get off the lift, just as in winter. But when climbing, our bikes are tuned for going up, and turning around to descend without preparing your bike, it’s similar to turning around at the top of a skinning ascent and dropping in without removing your skins or transferring your bindings into ski mode or turning your splitboard back into a snowboard.
Although one would never consider dropping in on a powder run in winter with their skins on, many cross-country riders are doing just that by not lowering their seat before descending. When I see this, I see a beginner gravity rider. Many “expert” cross-country riders may not realize they appear to be true beginners descending.
It seems that many Emerald riders could use some assistance on their way down. So here are a few important tips to aid the aspiring gravity rider.
• Dump your seat. I can’t stress this enough. The saddle is for going up hill. Descending, especially on flow trails, requires room between you and your bike to absorb and push back against the trail when needed. You get far more suspension travel from your arms and legs than your bike could ever provide, so long as your seat is low. With your seat tall, you are giving up most of your body travel and forcing your weight high and forward of center inviting an “over the bars” crash. A simple roller that is fun to pump or jump can be a dangerous obstacle on a bike tuned for climbing. If you don’t have a dropper post or a quick release, carry a hex wrench, get off your bike and lower your seat. If you cannot do that, then you are endangering yourself and absolutely should not be riding NPR.
• Once your seat is dumped, stay off of it, stand on your pedals with equal weight, no flamingo riding. Although, one can get away with sitting through a smooth berm, hitting a roller or jump with any sort of speed while in the saddle (leg suspension bottomed out) will likely result in an OTB crash.
• Finally, when hitting jumps, pull up on the bars. To properly hit jumps with defined lips you want the front tire traveling up at the lip’s angle until the rear tire leaves the lip. This will prevent getting bucked forward and make jumps comfortable, safe and fun.
So dump your seat, stand on pedals with equal weight, look ahead and pull up on the bars, and it shouldn’t be too hard to keep the rubber side down.
Routt County Riders is the local source for grassroots advocacy and information for all types of cycling. If you’d like to be involved, contact us at facebook.com/rcriders,routtcountyriders.org or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Aryeh Copa is president of Routt County Riders Trail Builders and constructed, with the assistance of the Trail Builder crew, the NPR flow trails on Emerald Mountain.
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