So it's Patriot's Day today and the weather is beautiful! It's definitely time to get out and ride!!
I've been hitting the trails this spring a lot more than normal because I have added "High School Mountain Bike Race Coach" to my list of activities...I have to say it's been a blast so far and I'm looking forward to my kids first race coming up in a couple of weeks!
In honor of that I thought that I would start a new tip line for aspiring mountain bikers with lessons reminded from my team.
The first lesson is BALANCE.
Balance is incredibly important for all of the cycling disciplines, road, cyclocross, mountain and track. It is what allows you to rail the corners on any ride or race but it is also what allows you to maintain movement as you guide your bike at slow speeds.
When you slow down, the physics of cycling stops being as relevant. At slow speeds gyroscopic and geometric forces come less into play to keep the bicycle upright. http://bicycles.stackexchange.com/questions/4656/what-makes-a-bike-stay-upright-when-moving
This is where balance comes in.
When you are on the trail and picking your way through obstacles (think rocks or roots) and not moving that quickly, a single root can stop your forward progress by exerting a force against your tire. If the momentum of the tire is not sufficient to overcome the force from the root then your bike can come to a quick halt.
At this point having a strong sense of balance on the bike will allow you to hold your position long enough to decide which direction to move in or to simple put your foot down (the less desirable result).
So the short of the lesson is, you can't spend too much time practicing balance. You do that by learning how to track stand (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nRR4paQnUsQ) and standing on the pedals vs sitting on the saddle!
Another site that has great tips for balance, particularly on a mountain bike http://www.mtbtips.com/mountain-bike-control-tips/how-to-balance-on-a-mountain-bike-corners-switchbacks/#sthash.CShibLNs.dpbs
Remember, standing on the pedals gives more stability and better balance when you are rolling over the bouncy stuff. It also keeps your feet on the pedals!
Enjoy the beautiful day and ride on!