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  1. #1
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    Balance is so UNDERRATED as an MTB skill

    I'm not the greatest rider although I hope I've entertained some of you slightly with my failures on video. Over the last 3 months that I've had my new Pitch I feel I've been making progress here and there. It sucks being lazy and working sh1tty hours and not getting out as often as I'd like but I think I get better with each ride.

    Drew and I took a ride up and down National this morning and one area where I've noticed the greatest improvement is my balance. I don't clean many of the HARD obstacles on National but I feel that my improved balance has had the biggest impact on my riding skills. I managed to clean the "easy" line at the triangle this outing

    Let's face it, not many people can climb like kenbentit or kelstr. Not me for sure. But, I've been noticing lately that a lot of the technical climbs that I do make are a direct result of being able to hold my balance. So many times I find myself climbing over some rocks thinking "a few months ago I would've already bailed this pig" yet I'm still working my way up and over the rocks. Many times I'm stopped dead for a split second and yet I'm still able to get the cranks moving again. You can have as much power in your legs as you'd like but if you can't keep the bike upright it ain't gonna do you any good.

    We all hear talk about getting your "climbing legs" and how to better "bomb" the downhills and yet I don't think as much of a big deal is made about having exceptional balance. Even if you don't have the legs of Atlas you've got a good shot at cleaning many things simply if you stay upright and on your pedals. And you've got absolutely no chance of cleaning tight switchbacks up OR down if you can't keep it upright.

    So, my pep talk it to encourage those of you, like me, that keep wanting to improve with each ride, to make it a priority to practice those balance skills. I know you'll feel like a moron sitting out in front of your house practicing track stands and tight turns but I believe you'll find that with your increased balance will come greater cleaning of obstacles.

    That's all... See you out there!

  2. #2
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    ^^I've practiced track stands from the time I was 12. My wife makes fun of me all the time for it when we're pedaling on the road waiting on the light to change. It helps when I'm in a climb and hit the wrong line or just run out of juice to be able to stop for a second then keep going, not to mention the switchbacks.
    The secret to mountain biking is pretty simple. The slower you go the more likely it is you’ll crash.
    - Julie Furtado

  3. #3
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    You must spread some Reputation around before giving it to big0mike again.

  4. #4
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    indeed....good post Mike

  5. #5
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    yoga.
    nuf said.
    do it and you will see changes you can't believe.

  6. #6
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    Mike, you make some good points. I've noticed as well that I can climb things I couldn't before based on balance alone. I make it a point to try to stay on the pedals if I come to a stop on an obstacle. Can't say it works all the time but once in a while it does.

    I practice track stands and tight turns in front of my house all the time. My boys and I make a game of it.

  7. #7
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    I was surprised to see you guys out there that early , Rob and I were having a good ride , I just love mornings out on the mountain.
    Drew and you were all smiles and having a great time , ....Congrats for cleaning that line up the triangle ....that line is plenty hard and takes more balance and control than one thinks..(Good Job Mike !)

    You are so correct on Balance being so important , the "Trials" riding skills are so hard to achieve yet so necessary in being able to ride well .

    Guys that have ridden "Trials" really excel in AM riding .

  8. #8
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    I wouldn't say I have great balance but I am pretty stubborn. I've spent hours and hours practicing the tricky spots out there. One really good way to improve your skills is to try some trials riding. I still have my mod. bike and it teaches you a lot about what can be done.
    Desert Sunset Calls/Upward, Pain, Perseverance/Welcome Solitude

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by AzMntBkr1 View Post
    yoga.
    nuf said.
    do it and you will see changes you can't believe.
    i did my first yoga class in a year yesterday and i have to agree on this one. i have immediate singletrack access so i ride quite a bit, and i work for a tree service so i get lots of good cross-training schlepping green pondo rounds up hills and the yoga class still has me sore to my core today.

    i also used to spend a lot of time on a balance board before i moved to az. i wish i still had it, because i saw great improvements in balance as a result of that. i would use it while i was waiting for things to cook, while talking on the phone, killing time before/after work. super fun, maybe not quite as much fun as actually riding a bike but good nonetheless. the one i had was a voodoo, which has a track down the middle for the roller which means that you can move around a room on it instead of being confined to a single line. good stuff!

  10. #10
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    I've started slacklining and have found that helps a ton! Really makes you focus and stay on line. Great core workout and I can do it while I'm watching the little one at the park. All you can focus on is that little 2" line moving under your feet and nothing else...kinda like ripping some trail. YouTube Slackline and see what it's about!!!

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by latedropbob View Post
    I've started slacklining and have found that helps a ton! Really makes you focus and stay on line. Great core workout and I can do it while I'm watching the little one at the park. All you can focus on is that little 2" line moving under your feet and nothing else...kinda like ripping some trail. YouTube Slackline and see what it's about!!!


  12. #12
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    I second the balance board. I took a 5'' diameter piece of PVC pipe from the Depot and took the wheels off my longboard and just balanced on it, rocking back and forth and came up with random tricks. I did this all winter long, along with my road bike trainer (I'm from CT originally), then the tech sections got so much easier. I got so much better as a rider solely because of my balance.

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by woahey View Post
    ^^I've practiced track stands from the time I was 12. My wife makes fun of me all the time for it when we're pedaling on the road waiting on the light to change. It helps when I'm in a climb and hit the wrong line or just run out of juice to be able to stop for a second then keep going, not to mention the switchbacks.
    Exactly. Not sure I can just stop but on a couple occasions I've found myself trying to muscle over a rock and actually rolled backwards down it 8"-12". Keeping my balance I would just stand on the pedals and I found myself moving again.

    Quote Originally Posted by AzMntBkr1 View Post
    yoga. nuf said. do it and you will see changes you can't believe.
    I've done yoga with the Mrs. and I'm not sure that it translates but I'll be the first to admit that I haven't done it a lot so certainly could not see any improvement based on the little yoga I've done. It is a great workout, though.

    Quote Originally Posted by dunerinaz View Post
    I practice track stands and tight turns in front of my house all the time. My boys and I make a game of it.
    Nice. I should try to teach my dog the same game

    Quote Originally Posted by kelstr View Post
    I was surprised to see you guys out there that early , Rob and I were having a good ride , I just love mornings out on the mountain.
    You kidding? Even when it's not scorching out I love being out at the crack of dawn. Makes me feel like I'm camping and waking with the fishes.

    Quote Originally Posted by kelstr View Post
    Drew and you were all smiles and having a great time , ....Congrats for cleaning that line up the triangle ....that line is plenty hard and takes more balance and control than one thinks..(Good Job Mike !)
    Well, it is the easy line... but I have realized that some of the things I can do now I find myself thinking, "hell, if I can do it it can't be that big of a deal" so I know I don't give myself a lot of credit. Or, more to the point, I'm definitely my own worst critic.

    Quote Originally Posted by latedropbob View Post
    I've started slacklining and have found that helps a ton! Really makes you focus and stay on line. Great core workout and I can do it while I'm watching the little one at the park. All you can focus on is that little 2" line moving under your feet and nothing else...kinda like ripping some trail. YouTube Slackline and see what it's about!!!
    If that video is what slacklining is I wanna know how you do that at the park. Interesting activity nonethless.

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by big0mike View Post

    If that video is what slacklining is I wanna know how you do that at the park. Interesting activity nonethless.
    two poles..
    ratchet strap..
    ???
    Profit

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by SHNIPE View Post
    two poles..
    ratchet strap..
    ???
    Profit
    Gotta be some serious poles & strap. Not to mention some means of securing the strap so that it doesn't scoot down the poles with every bounce.

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by SHNIPE View Post

    THAT'S AWESOME !

    I'd friggin' kill myself but I do want to try it sometime.

    FYI- I look like that when I'm just walking down the street sometimes.

  17. #17
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    All the sites i looked at mostly used ratchet straps in the 1" or 2" flavor and on occasion some sort of rubber pad or carpet (worked on trees) to keep the strap. Id imagine if you used some gorilla tape on the strap end that would go around the pole it wouldnt move at all. Ill bow to the gnarknowledge though :P

  18. #18
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    That Slacklining looks really fun and what a work out it is.
    It would take me some time to not fall on my a$$ every second but I could see the advantages in greatly bettering a persons balance for every kind of sport out there !!

  19. #19
    Don't believe the Hype...
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    Quote Originally Posted by gergroy View Post
    i also used to spend a lot of time on a balance board before i moved to az. i wish i still had it, because i saw great improvements in balance as a result of that. i would use it while i was waiting for things to cook, while talking on the phone, killing time before/after work. super fun, maybe not quite as much fun as actually riding a bike but good nonetheless. the one i had was a voodoo, which has a track down the middle for the roller which means that you can move around a room on it instead of being confined to a single line. good stuff!
    I have a "Bongo Board", sounds like the same type of design, and I do the same thing. It's great to have around the house.
    Made with real bits of Panther, so you know it's good...

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  20. #20
    Don't believe the Hype...
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    Skating is great cross training. If you didn't skate growing up, check out longboarding. It's waaay easier than riding little decks and wheels that you see most kids on. Big soft wheels eat up cracks and small rocks like nothing and the longer wheelbase adds a ton of stability. Anyone who feels comfortable on a bike should be able to ride a longboard on flat land pretty well. As soon as you start riding any hills you better know what your doing and wear slide gloves and a helmet. You can find used ones on CL for $100 pretty often. Even brand new top of the line setup rarely go over $250. There are even quite a few locals building custom decks around the valley.

    Check out Phoenix Longboarding on Facebook if you're interested. http://www.facebook.com/#!/groups/37575137155?ap=1
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