Noob questions climing and going down hills
Ok, just got into MTB and have several questions after my few trail rides. My bike is a true starter DB FS which I bought new for $250 and have for the time being old school cage pedals. I will be upgrading to a much better bike when funds allow and sheesh when I get a job (layoff).
Ok questions, on climbing hills. I weigh 165lbs. I notice that I sometimes spin the wheels when climbing up dirt trails mostly hard pack but some loose. Air pressure is on the low side at about 30-40psi. Now I spin wheels on both my FS and my older hardtail. So I think its my technique or is it normal? I would guess that my weight is on my handlebars when climbing.
Now for down hills, I am getting serious arm pump when it gets real steep and am on the brakes. I remind myself to relax the hands and arms but I am hanging on just to stay on path (single track) and bumpy. Im sure alot has to do with my shitty Dart 1 pogo stick (which will be replaced by a Tora 318 solo air Tuesday killer deal couldnt pass up! My body weight I try to keep on my legs and off the seat.
Thanks for your advice guys and please dont bash my bike. Again I am jobless and will upgrade soon!
When you climb, are you standing or sitting? Putting your ass on the saddle should help keep the rear wheel hooked up. Also, it's better to spin a lower gear at higher cadence for a given speed. You want the most even power transfer to the rear wheel that you can get.
Where's your weight when you're descending? On a high speed descent, your hands should be on the bars pretty much for balance and so they don't get wrenched around by the front wheel hitting an obstacle. Any steering will come from your hips. Your weight should really be on your feet, on the pedals, and as far back as you can get. Often, you'll actually be behind the saddle. The nicer fork will help when you install it.
"Don't buy upgrades; ride up grades." -Eddy Merckx
On the descend ideally you want to keep your weight 70/30. 70 on the rear and 30 in the front. This will keep your front and rear tire hook up. The steeper the grade the more you need to move your butt to the rear. It would help increase the braking power as well.
Practice not to drag your brake on the descend. Slow the bike way down when it straight and smooth enough to brake. Do it like you mean it, both front and rear be sure to put your weigh over the rear to increase braking traction. Then let the bike roll and repeat the process before entering the corner or you start going too fast(how fast can you control the bike), so you are not constantly on the brake. It's bad to drag the brake on the descend as you have less control over the bike. Let your bike do what it does best, roll. Practice how fast you can stop with out skidding it will boost your confident and you'll be a better descender.
good brakes drastically reduce arm fatigue. my vbrakes would stop me too, id just have to death grip them the whole ride. real killer. if you have low end brakes, its just something you gotta deal with.
Even with the high end V-brake still not as powerful as the disc or even mechanical disc. I have Avid Arch Supreme on my Hardtail still some steep hills I'm wish I have more power.
The above advice is good,
To get traction climbing you need to be smooth. You need power to be smooth, so this will improve as you cycle more.
Decending, sounds like your weight is too far forwards and you are death gripping the brakes.
The Tora will help you out massivly, the dart really is a POS. However Greg minnar could beat me in a race with a dart and me on the dorado. So Tora will help alot, but technique can compensate for the dart's many failings.
Stress only brake when you need to, then brake like you mean it. This lets your wrists rest and lets your brakes cool down.
basicaly practice lots, you will get better and stronger
Good advice all around. I'll add this:
When climbing, spin a lower gear, but don't be tempted to go too low. My last trip out we were doing a pretty technical climb and I was running the granny up front and the 32 in the rear. I kept losing momemtum each time I hit a pebble! Once I went up a gear or two from there it really wasn't THAT much harder, but I still wasn't pulling the front end and I started cleaning those climbs much bettter. It just took some fiddling around to find the best gear for the climb.
On decents, like was said, first, don't fight your bike's momentum with constant braking. That littel bit of momentum you shave off might be the difference in clearing an obstacle, drop, whatever or not. Second, don't fight where the front wheel wants to go. If it goes a little off-line, bring it back, but fighting hard to keep it there will like be a disappointing adventure. Let it do what it does best roll. Finally, keep your butt off the rear of the seat on decents, but a buddy of mine gave me this advice: Grip the nose of your saddle with your thighs (squeeze). I tried this and I felt much less like a passenger sitting on top of my bike and MUCH more in control. I was able to shift mine and the bikes weight around to get ready for the next turn, etc. That one little trick made that ride SO much more enjoyable.
Sorry for the novel, but hope something there helps.
I'm beginning to overcome my "momentum issues" but even that is happening slowly.
- Crustius Maximus
+1 for climbing seated - which full suspension makes easy to do. Just as you need to scoot your butt rearward when descending, you should scoot forward when climbing and lean forward toward the bars. Having your upper body forward keeps the front wheel planted and steady, while keeping your butt on the saddle keeps the rear wheel hooked up. When it gets really steep, the nose of the saddle should be firmly planted in your taint. (Taint whats in front, taint whats in back, just taint!). That's why taint friendliness is a requirement for saddles I buy. You want the nose to be wide and padded, or curved down like the WTB SST.
Use it, use it, use it while you still have it.
I love this forum and thank you to all. Very helpful advice and I will try it this week after I install the new fork. I do have tektro IOX disc brakes to help slow me but like some of you I wished I had more stopping pwer. Then again that section of downhill was extremely bumpy thus the arm pump?? I was leaning back as much as possible and not on the seat during that section. Again more seat time. Thanks again for the tips!
Arm pump is often a result of not riding relaxed. Clinching yourself up when you are anxious and not at ease on the bike, as well as having a death grip on the bars, will cut off circulation to the forearms.
Relax on the bike. Grip with your legs as suggested.
I'm not sure how to explain HOW I do this, but when I am riding, my hands are very relaxed, and provide very little input to the bike. I often ride with 1 or 2 fingers covering the brakes even if I am not in a braking situation.
For braking technique, I would suggest practicing nose wheelies - and after lifting the back wheel off the ground, setting it back down and trying to balance on the bike as it's not moving. Once you get comfortable with the body positioning required to lift the back wheel up (you don't have to be going fast to do this either, you can start off just barely moving), you will have a good feel for how you should be positioning yourself for braking.
With time, you will come to feel more comfortable on the bike - you will feel like you and the bike are a single moving vehicle, rather then feeling like you are riding something (which is probably how you feel now, when you are braking).
40 psi is not that low. If you can buy a cheap (pencil type) tyre gauge and get a little more consistency with pressures that will help. If you run 30 without problems (flats) try removing 1 psi next ride.
I found it made a huge difference to my bikes.
Also shifting your weight to "mid-bike" on the climbs can help as it places weight on the front and rear and you can move while you climb. Sounds simple; it's easier with clipless; I've not used cage pedals and can't comment about them.
I found spinning a lower gear up the steep bits usually results in a smoother pedalling effort and less likely to have wheelspin. Before I was mashing and losing traction on the important bits.
Ride with people who are better than you.
Great advice for me as well...I like this forum a lot!!!