1. The most important thing about buying a new bike is to make sure it fits. The only way you'll know if the bike is right for you is to size up the bike and make sure that the bike's geometry matches your body's geometry. Ask questions and do some research.
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2. If possible, try to find a shop that will let you demo the bike on real dirt. Five minutes in a parking lot won't cut it. You wouldn't buy a car without a real world test drive, and a bike should be no different.
3. Don't belive the hype. Just because your favorite rider or best friend rides a certain bike, that doesn't mean that's the best one for you. Have an open mind and be realistic about your needs and ability.
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  1. #1
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    Am I setting myself up for failure on the harder of the "easy" trails.

    For anyone in Northern Virginia area I've been riding at Laurel Hills. There is a spot (if you start from the playground end) in Giles Run after dismounting and crossing the creek that almost immediately there is what I would consider a significant climb. I've read about sliding back in the saddle and leaning over the bars to keep the front wheel down. Every time I've tried it I run out of speed near the top. Is this just a matter of building leg strength to get the speed I need? Or am I doomed never to climb?

    The other obstacles on this trail are logs. The first is probably around 6 to 8 inches around. I actually cleared it yesterday, today however with confidence boosted I tried it a little faster. My left pedal hit the log close to the bottom of its travel. Yep I went down, nothing harmed not even my ego (no one was around to see ). Yesterday I pulled up on the bars to do a mini wheelie over it and my rear tire followed. Is this the proper technique?

    Also I noticed a couple of times today my pedals dragging as I was leaning into corners. Is this normal?

    Thanks everyone,

    Loren

  2. #2
    Nickel Havr
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    When crossing over objects it helps to level the pedals... If you need just a little more oomph pedal and then back pedal to level em.

    Also drop your outside pedal in the turns... You won't drag em then!
    Quote Originally Posted by William Blake
    Great things are done when men and mountains meet. This is not done by jostling in the street .

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lorenjz View Post
    For anyone in Northern Virginia area I've been riding at Laurel Hills. There is a spot (if you start from the playground end) in Giles Run after dismounting and crossing the creek that almost immediately there is what I would consider a significant climb. I've read about sliding back in the saddle and leaning over the bars to keep the front wheel down. Every time I've tried it I run out of speed near the top. Is this just a matter of building leg strength to get the speed I need? Or am I doomed never to climb?

    The other obstacles on this trail are logs. The first is probably around 6 to 8 inches around. I actually cleared it yesterday, today however with confidence boosted I tried it a little faster. My left pedal hit the log close to the bottom of its travel. Yep I went down, nothing harmed not even my ego (no one was around to see ). Yesterday I pulled up on the bars to do a mini wheelie over it and my rear tire followed. Is this the proper technique?

    Also I noticed a couple of times today my pedals dragging as I was leaning into corners. Is this normal?

    Thanks everyone,

    Loren
    Lofting front wheel to go over log is a great way to get it done, do what Eck suggested weight the outside pedal one to keep the tire bite, and you won't get caught tri-podding on a bike

    Now on that first climb, how long is it and what gear do you use to climb it. You should be able to grind it up without stalling if you use the right gear. If the gear is too big you can either stall, or you leg would give up before your ride even started.

  4. #4
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    You are setting yourself up for failure by not having confidence that you can ride these features ("Am I doomed never to climb?").

    For climbing, I would think you want to slide forward in the saddle to keep the front wheel down, but most of the time you shouldn't have to do much.

    The way I see it, there are basically two ways to tackle a steep climb, and it comes down to how you want to pedal (called cadence)- either fast or slow. The easiest method for a beginner, in my opinion, is to shift down to a lower gear and pedal faster (higher cadence). That makes it easier to pedal, though you will go slower. I use higher cadence/lower gears for long hills, and I can pedal up any reasonable hill, even if I'm moving slower than someone walking. The other way is to stay in the same gear you were cruising along the trail in (or maybe downshift one or two so it's a bit easier), and just increase power. That takes a lot of leg strength, especially if the hill is steep, your gear is too high, or you didn't carry enough speed into the hill. I find this works best on short hills, and standing up helps.

    There are some issues you might run into either way. If you are going for high cadence and you shift too early, you won't be able to get any power and you will lose momentum. If you shift too late, you will be "power shifting" which will damage the drivetrain. If you can't balance moving slowly you might have to stop. If you are going for low cadence, the most likely problem is not being able to get enough power to make it up. I've had times where I come to a complete stop just before the top of a hill. If that happens I will either have to stop, or push harder by pulling up on the handlebars or pulling up with my other foot, since I use clipless pedals. Sometimes I just get caught with my foot at the bottom of the pedal stroke where there's less power. It helps if you can do a trackstand (balance while stationary) so you have some time to get going again.

    I guess it's not black or white since your bike probably has plenty of gears. You could try to climb the hill several times, trying a different gear each time. Also try starting from a stop at the bottom in one of the lowest gears.

    For crossing logs, pulling the front wheel up is good technique as far as I know. Don't wheelie up to it from 10 feet back or anything, just pull the wheel up as it's about to hit. With practice, you can hop the back wheel up too, though timing can get tricky. Even with platform pedals you should be able to hop the back wheel up. I have found two ways to do it, and it's best to practice on flat ground. One way involves just jumping up with your feet. With the cranks level, point your toes down so you can use the grip on the pedals and your shoes to lift the back end. Push forward on the bars so your feet grip the pedals better, and simply jump up. The back wheel should pop up, even with the front wheel solidly on the ground. The other way is to first lift the front of the bike up, then, as fast and hard as you can, extend your arms out pushing forward and slightly down on the bars. The back wheel then should lift up. You can try this standing next to the bike, it's a bit easier and it should still work. You will probably find that a combination of these two ways works best for you.

    So here's a list of specific skills and drills you should work on. Most of this can be done anywhere, even in a parking lot:
    -Practice riding at a wide range of cadence. Singlespeed riders do this all the time since they only have one gear, and you can get a similar effect by just not shifting. Pick a gear and try to use it for an entire ride. Practice spinning fast and pushing high gears. Practice climbing long hills in different gears.
    -Learn to trackstand, or at least balance while moving extremely slowly. I can come to a complete stop at a stop sign and wait for traffic to go by and not take my feet off the pedals. It confuses the heck out of some drivers who think I'm still moving.
    -Practice lifting the back wheel by standing next to the bike, lifting the handlebars, then thrusting them forward. If you can do that, try it on the bike.
    -Practice lifting the back wheel by pulling up on the pedals
    -Get some smaller obstacles (scrap wood, cardboard boxes, etc) and practice getting over them, and maybe try jumping over them.
    -Work on core strength. A lot of these skills take more core strength to pull off than you are probably used to using. For me working on core strength is probably one of the best things I have done to improve my skill level.
    Mountain Bike Core Strength Sequence | MTB Strength Training Systems
    Matt

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lorenjz View Post
    I've read about sliding back in the saddle and leaning over the bars to keep the front wheel down.
    You should scoot forward in the saddle to keep the front down on climbs, not backward. Sit right on the nose of the saddle.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lorenjz View Post
    For anyone in Northern Virginia area I've been riding at Laurel Hills. There is a spot (if you start from the playground end) in Giles Run after dismounting and crossing the creek that almost immediately there is what I would consider a significant climb. I've read about sliding back in the saddle and leaning over the bars to keep the front wheel down. Every time I've tried it I run out of speed near the top. Is this just a matter of building leg strength to get the speed I need? Or am I doomed never to climb?

    The other obstacles on this trail are logs. The first is probably around 6 to 8 inches around. I actually cleared it yesterday, today however with confidence boosted I tried it a little faster. My left pedal hit the log close to the bottom of its travel. Yep I went down, nothing harmed not even my ego (no one was around to see ). Yesterday I pulled up on the bars to do a mini wheelie over it and my rear tire followed. Is this the proper technique?

    Also I noticed a couple of times today my pedals dragging as I was leaning into corners. Is this normal?

    Thanks everyone,

    Loren
    I've got the same problem, although its getting much better. Check the "My climbing ability sucks" thread for some excellent info that was given to me. It works, and I am getting very close to cresting the hill, with the added benefit of now being able to hammer smaller climbs that used to bog me down.
    Keep at it man and enjoy!

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lorenjz View Post
    ...I've read about sliding back in the saddle and leaning over the bars to keep the front wheel down...
    Slide forward on the saddle and lean over the bars to weight the front end.

    For getting over logs...Hippity Hop Over a Log.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lorenjz View Post
    Or am I doomed never to climb?
    This was a joke more than anything...I know I'll eventually get it.

    Quote Originally Posted by bclagge View Post
    You should scoot forward in the saddle to keep the front down on climbs, not backward. Sit right on the nose of the saddle.
    Quote Originally Posted by Nocturnalnature View Post
    Check the "My climbing ability sucks" thread for some excellent info that was given to me.
    If you slide too far forward do you start to loose traction on the rear wheel? I think I read about this technique in the "My climbing ability sucks"

    Quote Originally Posted by gmcttr View Post
    For getting over logs...Hippity Hop Over a Log.
    Genius this link helped a ton!

    As always everyone here rocks!

    Loren

  9. #9
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    We have 5 different trails and I ride them all. I think riding them all helps. You will start to ride the easy trails faster (which I think will help your confidence) and the more difficult trails will help your ability and technique.
    Last edited by KEITH21; 08-09-2011 at 08:14 AM.

  10. #10
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    I think the single biggest thing that has helped me is repetition.
    Every other riding day I go to the climb that is giving me fits and pedal up and down, trying to make it as far as I physically can each time. I repeat this 10 times in a session and by the end my legs are burned. Although I have not made it to the top yet, I have managed to consistantly climb further than I could in the past.
    An interesting side effect of focusing on this particular steep and long climb is I can now blow through shorter climbs that gave me trouble before. As an example, I went on a route yesterday that took 58 minutes to complete just a little over a week ago. I cleared it in 49 minutes. The difference was in the endurance I have built in my legs as well as my cardio capacity. By taking several days a week to push my body to its limits I have increased those limits in a very short time span.
    Give it a try. Hopefully you'll be as excited as I am to find your body adapting and becoming stronger in all aspects.
    Good luck!

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lorenjz View Post
    If you slide too far forward do you start to loose traction on the rear wheel? I think I read about this technique in the "My climbing ability sucks"
    The more your weight is forward, the better the front end stays down and the less traction you get with you back tire. Sometimes you can spin out the rear wheel and the climb is over. But you need to spin out the rear wheel so you can learn how far forward you can scoot without doing it. If you find you're losing traction it may help to get a wider tire and/or beefier knobs. You can also drop your tire pressure as low and you can get it, thus giving you a larger contact patch. You should do that anyway in fact.

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by Nocturnalnature View Post
    I've got the same problem, although its getting much better. Check the "My climbing ability sucks" thread for some excellent info that was given to me. It works, and I am getting very close to cresting the hill, with the added benefit of now being able to hammer smaller climbs that used to bog me down.
    Keep at it man and enjoy!
    Hey man, not to get off topic but I just wanted to say that I'm happy to hear that that thread has helped you out.
    build a man a fire keep him warm for a day, set a man on fire keep him warm for the rest of his life.

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by queevil View Post
    Hey man, not to get off topic but I just wanted to say that I'm happy to hear that that thread has helped you out.
    Thanks man!
    The progress I'm making is nothing short of amazing. Without all the helpful information I'd likely still be in the exact same situation.

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