Summer has officially arrived, and with it, the summer mountain biking season around Lake Tahoe. What's more, today marks the opening of all lifts at Northstar's Bike Park. As such, Northstar's mountain bike program manager, Luke Sheppard, shares 7 of his best summer mountain biking tips below.
Summer Mountain Biking Tips
1. Do a safety check on your bike before riding. First and foremost, check the tire pressure to make sure they are properly inflated. Just as important, however, is also checking the fork and rear shock air, which should be set to accommodate the rider's weight. Lastly, check your seat height. While your seat should be positioned high for efficient pedaling, having it lower while descending helps you maneuver your body to maintain balance. Consider investing in a dropper seatpost, which allows you to adjust saddle height while riding.
2. Keep one finger on your brakes. One-finger braking is the key to downhill mountain biking. Most new mountain bikes now come with hydraulic brakes, which make it easier to do this because of the power and ease of braking with them. That leaves you with more fingers for a firm grip on your handlebars, without having to continually shift your hands when braking.
3. Always look ahead while riding the trail. The natural inclination when mountain biking is often to stare down right in front of you. However, the further down the trail you look, the more time you have to make a plan.
4. Let speed be your friend. While riding technical areas of a trail, let your momentum carry you over obstacles. Modern suspension works more actively while moving at speed, helping soften and control the impact of terrain. Therefore, don't be afraid of speed as you approach technical terrain.
5. Adjust your body when approaching hills. When approaching steep hills, to descend, prepare by keeping your weight back behind the saddle. Additionally, dropping your heels can be a great way to focus on moving your center of mass towards the rear of the bike.
6. Always be prepared. It's important to have the important gear and tools before going for a ride. Keep a mini air pump, tire tube, energy bar and multi-tool handy before going out to ride. Additionally, know how to change your tires before you ride. Practice at home so that you aren't caught unprepared on the trail.
7. Have protective equipment on at all times. As the saying goes, it's better to have, and not need, than to need, and not have. As such, always wear a helmet while mountain biking. For the Northstar Bike Park, I recommend a full face helmet, goggles and knee and elbow pads.