Friday, May 20, 2011

5 Tips from the Godfather.

Wade LOVES to ride bikes.
Wade is know as one of the most natural trail riders anywhere. Follow him down a trail and he skips over technical sections as smoothly as butter, manuals and gaps stuff that most of creep down carefully and pretty much styles a trail out big time. He's got talent. We caught up with Simmons in Europe a few weeks ago as he prepared for this summer's Big Mountain Camps in Verbier, Switzerland and asked him a few key things to consider for mountain bikers...

1. Bike set-up is probably the most important thing a rider can do to affect their comfort and confidence. So many times I see people riding too long of a stem or have the handlebars rolled too forward or back. People need to have the bike properly adjusted to the type of riding they are doing. Proper suspension set-up is very important too, especially when we teach drops and airs. Its like getting into a rental car and not adjusting the seat or rear view mirror. Once all is adjusted its time to shred!

 2. Body position is crucial. When you buy a bike, nobody tells you how to ride it. Its assumed one will know how, because everybody can ride a bike, right? Wrong. The number one thing I see beginners and intermediates do wrong is lean too far back. Riders need to get over the front wheel and lead the bike. If you think of any sport that involves action, the body leads into the action: Skiing, you lean into the front, Football, you lean into the ball before kicking, Tennis, you lead with the shoulder before smashing the ball......everything is like this. Even when you ride down a rock face, you should be leaning forward, and not until the transition at the bottom should you weight back. It sounds counter-intuitive but its the way to ride.

3. Brake control and modulation. People cannot become great riders if they cannot operate brakes properly. Braking is a big part of mountain biking, and its very complicated. I am amazed at the number of people I see that do not know how to skid the rear tire. Sometimes on mountain bike website forums I read about people hating on skidding. Skidding is a skill one must master to become a expert rider. Anybody who complains about skidding being bad, does not know how use the skid properly. It is a way to steer the rear wheel, and once riders realize this, doors open on the trail. To master the combination of front and rear brake modulation takes time and practise, but once set on the right track, people will be better riders.

4. The Manual is another fundamental skill riders will need to master to allow progression. Its a skill that opens doors on the trail. The manual is used in many trail applications such as rolling off drops, smoothing out rough terrain and pumping through rolls. It can also be used to bring the front-end quickly around corners. A manual is a big crowd pleaser when you are riding down the road and pull a sic long manual. It can also be joined with other moves like a bunny-hop to manual for instance. The manual is relatively easy, but there are a couple of key points riders need to learn or you fall on your ass a lot!

5. Drops. Who doesn't love a drop? There are many types of drops with different characteristics that all require a little different approach. Some are straight drops, some have a gap factor to the landing, some have uphill take-offs, some downhill take-offs....many types, but all fun! Drops can also be very dangerous but when supplied with the right skills and knowledge there is only one
One of Wade's biggest drops ever. Mucho grande.
 Photo by John Gibson.

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