Learning how to corner correctly will make riding a heck of a lot more fun and you’ll be faster and more efficient. While cornering is a skill we could probably write a book about on its own, here we’ve broken down the basics to help you improve you flow:
1. Slow down to a speed at which you can safely negotiate the corner. If you overestimate, use your rear brake only to check speed. Never use your front brake in a corner; your front wheel could easily wash out.
2. Get in the ready position with your center of mass low and push your handlebar down towards the inside of the corner while your other arm pulls up. Do not pull either side of the handlebars towards you, or you’ll turn the front wheel, and we want to lean the bike.
3. Enter the corner on the outside. That means, if it’s a left-hand corner, enter on the right side of the entrance and lean the bike into the apex of the corner. Once you’ve passed the apex of the corner you can start to bring the bike back upright for the exit.
4. Separate yourself from the bike by swinging your hips to the outside of the corner, so your butt is next to your saddle. If you have a dropper seat post, drop it to allow your leg to easily move over the saddle. If you have a fixed seat post, bring your butt forward and around the saddle to get your weight to the outside of the corner.
5. Look through the corner. As you enter keep your head up and look at the exit. As you finish your corner, look down the trail to whatever happens to be coming up next. Head up, head up, head up.
6. Keep your knees out to allow the bike to lean beneath you. Your weight needs to be to the outside counter-balancing the bike as you flow through the corner. If keep even weight on your pedals, you’ll notice the inside pedal will come up as you lean the bike and separate from it.
7. Twist your hips in the direction you want to corner. Imagine you have lasers attached to them and you want to point them through the corner towards the exit. Initiate your lean as your enter the corner, well before your reach the apex.
8. Remember to relax and breathe. Smooth is fast.
We recommend practicing this skill on a grassy area around a tree or some cones. Setting up a 180-degree flat corner about 12 feet wide is a great way to get your cornering on track. As you improve, reduce the size of the corner, or try adding in speed.
At the heart of every tremendous mountain biking trick you’ve ever seen on the trail, in that sick edit, or read about in a magazine is one common theme: The Ready Position.
If good riding is a house, then the Ready Position — or “Ninja” position, as we’re fond of calling it — is the foundation. Every other skill is built around this one seemingly straight-forward thing. So let’s break it down, from bottom to top.
Even Weight on Your Feet
If you attend a Ninja Mountain Bike Skills clinic, we will never tell you to raise one foot or lower the other. All questions about what your feet should be doing are answered in the same way: Make sure you have equal weight on your pedals. Whether cornering, climbing, descending, or just plain riding along, if you were to put a scale under each of your pedals, the weight should come out equal.
Knees Bent and Out
Keep your knees bent to allow the bike to move up and down under you — basically, your legs are your suspension. Your bike moves up and down beneath you and it also needs space to move side to side, as it does if you were leaning into a corner. With your knees out, you can lean the bike that much farther; the other way and you can’t lean it at all.
Bum Off The Saddle
The only way your big, beautiful suspension system (your legs) can work is if it’s open and active. Putting your bum on the seat effectively means you’re “locked out.” To keep up with varying terrain, and to work the bike, you’re going to need your bum out of the saddle.
The lower your torso, the lower your center of mass, and the more stable you’ll become. Lowering your torso also makes room for your arms to lean the bike into ever-tighter corners. If things start to get squirrely, we’re betting it’s your torso that’s crept up on you.
Elbows Bent and Out
You’re much stronger with your elbows out, rather than in. Don’t believe us? Try doing pushups — two with your elbows out, two with your elbows in. With them out, you get to use biceps, triceps, chest, and back to support your riding and share the load. With them in, you have only your triceps to work with. Bending your elbows also helps protect your space, and you’ll get more extension in cornering, too.
One Finger on the Brake
Part of being “ready” is being ready to stop. On the trail, whether uphill or downhill, things can change very suddenly so having your index finger on the brake, ready for action is a must. But thanks to the power of modern brakes, you only need one. Save your other three fingers to maintain a good grip on your handlebars. [To learn more about effective braking, click here.]
“Look where you want to go,” is some of the oldest advice in mountain biking. Also its companion piece, “don’t look where you don’t want to go.” With your head up, you’ll be able to see where you’re going. We recommend keeping your eye on what’s happening 2–5 seconds down the trail. It’s too late to do anything about the obstacles under your wheels. Look — and think – ahead.
The Ready Position is used any time you’re out on the trail and need to be “ready.” There is one other position we use in mountain biking as well: the neutral position. This one is basically the same as the ready position, but feel free to put your bum on the saddle and even grab a drink or a snack. Ready position is what you use to shred glorious singletrack. Neutral position is how you roll back to your car at the trailhead parking lot.
SAN DIEGO, CA (October 1, 2014) — Ninja Night Race is proud to announce the final two events of 2014 will be presented by new title sponsor, Loaded Precision Components, and will take place on Thursday November 6 and Thursday December 11 at Balboa Park, starting at 7pm sharp.
“We’re headed back to Balboa Park for its central location, race-worthy trail system and best of all, the awesome feeling and spectacle of starting on the Velodrome,” said Race Director Richard La China. “We’re excited to be back, and thrilled to have Loaded Precision on board, as we welcome the earlier evenings with a little late-season racing.”
Ninja Night Race is the first USAC-sanctioned series of its kind, however Cat 2/3 athletes do not need a USAC license to participate. Pro/Cat 1 podium placers can look forward to up to $100 in prize money for both men and women. The event also includes an expo featuring event sponsors and local businesses, a free tamale for all racers and live music to add to the festive vibe.
“It’s been a busy summer of racing for everyone, but now we get to enjoy some cooler temperatures, and a more laid-back atmosphere, all while still collecting those last-minute upgrade points,” said La China. “We hope that the Loaded Precision Ninja Night Race attracts riders who want to give racing a try, racers who want to give night-riding a try, and of course, the usual suspects in our tremendous community of mountain bikers.”
Look for details leading up to the event, including the course, who will be in the expo, and the famous Ninja Night Race door prizes at ninjanightrace.com.
About Ninja Night Race
Ninja Night Race began in late 2013 with a pilot event held at Lake Hodges. Thanks to its success, the series relocated to Balboa Park in downtown San Diego to allow more racers to join in the fun. Participants in the second event became the first mountain bikers in history to set tire on the famous San Diego Velodrome. Ninja Night Race is the first USAC-sanctioned series of its kind and takes place during the week in the fall/winter, adding an off-season option for racers who like to go fast in the dark, or riders interested in trying it for the first time. Ninja Night Race is proud to offer equal prize purses in the Cat 1/pro categories for men and women. More than a race, the event also brings a party atmosphere by including live music, delicious tamales, and an expo featuring sponsors and local businesses. For more information, please visit ninjanightrace.com.
We’re heading back for another taste of the region’s distinct singletrack. Join us we partner with local shop Landis Cyclery to offer skills clinics at every level.
We’ll be riding at the famous Papago Park — home to beautiful sandstone buttes and listed on the National Register of Historic Places. This venue has features that make it perfect for practicing skills, and you’ll have plenty of photo opportunities too.
Join us and learn to Ride Like a Ninja. You’ll soon conquer your fears on the drops and switchbacks, unlock free speed in the corners and boogie up any climb the trail throws at you. We’ll teach you how to brake effectively, how to perfect your footwork and demonstrate just how much your body position can affect your ride.
Following your clinic, you will see an immediate improvement in your riding and a boost in confidence. You’ll understand how changes in your body position, footwork and where you are looking affect the way your bike behaves. You’ll be able to tackle steeper terrain, corner with control and negotiate trail obstacles with ease. And Landis Cyclery will be ready to help with any mechanical support, accessories, parts or anything else you may need for your mountain bike.
Click HERE to register for this or any other upcoming clinic, or to find out more. The crews at Landis Cyclery and Ninja Mountain Bike Skills can’t wait to see you there!
For those ninjas-in-training that want test their skills in a race environment–and have a blast doing it– we recommend participating in the Quick n’ Dirty Race Series. The course is fast, fun, beginner friendly, and spectator friendly due to its multiple loops.
To ride like a ninja you must have great skill; to race like a ninja you must have great insight. No, this does not mean that you have to read the Tao of Pooh, it just means that you must be aware of the course ahead of you. The best way to do this is with a purposeful pre-ride–learn where the best line is, practice the technical sections, know how much recovery you will have between climbs, and scope out the best passing sections.
To ensure that you have the best race experience, dominate your category, and race like a ninja, come and join a Ninja-led small group pre-ride, race strategy session at the Quick n’ Dirty course.
Your session will include basic mountain bike skills review, pre-race nutrition guidance, race strategy breakdown, ‘what to expect on race day’ tips, and, of course, the actual pre-ride.
NOTE: THIS DOES NOT INCLUDE RACE ENTRY / THIS IS ONLY FOR THE RACE PREVIEW SESSION.
Click here to register.
Whether intentionally placed or the result of nature, logs are a common obstacle on trails. Smaller logs are easy to ride over, but larger logs, or logs that are partially elevate off the ground can be an intimidating obstacle for the average rider. The skill is relatively simple if you take the time to start small and progress your way up to larger objects.
For this skill, starting with a 2×4 and progressing to a 4×4 then a small log is a great way to work your way up to an actual log. When you practicing on the small obstacles, works on precision — see if you can get over the object without touching it at all, or just skimming it.
Once you have it perfected, move on to the larger obstacle.
Assume the ready position and look ahead to the top of the log as you approach it at a jogging speed. Stay relaxed.
Just as you approach the log, compress then explode the front wheel up onto the top of the log.
Once your front tire is over the log, shift your weight towards the front of your bike allowing your rear tire to lift up and over the log.
Un-weight the handlebar as the front wheel rolls down back to the trail to minimize fork compression and allow a smooth front wheel roll-out — remember to keep looking forward.
That’s it — enjoy!
For more mountain bike skills, tips and tricks.. check here.
How to Ride Over a Log
How to Track Stand
How to Ride Off a Drop
How to Ride in Sand
How to Do a Rock Dodge
How to Ride in Wet Conditions
How and When to do a Seated Climb
How to Jump
How to Ride a Steep Descent
When to Ride Over or Around an Obstacle
How to Use Your Brakes Effectively
Bonus 10 Ways to Go Faster
Find these and many more skills here.
THE RACE, THE MYTH, THE LEGEND
by: Coach Richard La China
Oh, the Leadville 100. The Race Across the Sky. The Race of All Races. The Ironman of Mountain Biking, If Ironman Was at 10,000ft. The Race Even Lance Armstrong Lost Once…All of the monikers for this race that emphasize its difficulty, the awe-inspiring terrain, and its exclusivity are not hyperbole, they’re facts. They provide accurate descriptions of a race that actually lives up to its hype. Because of this, Leadville sits firmly at the top of Bucket Lists of nearly all the elite and amateur racers across the world. I know it did for me.
I had tried to get in via the lottery for the past three years and was unsuccessful. So when my team, Team Ninja, was picked this year, I was ecstatic. Yet the sense excitement was tempered with something I didn’t normally feel before race: nervousness.
Yes, the race is 104 miles on and off road. Yes, the total elevation gain is about 12,800ft. Yes, even some of the most seasoned riders have DNF’d. All of that kind of stuff doesn’t make me nervous, it actually exhilarates me. I’m an endorphin junkie and some might even say, a masochist. I love to push myself to the limit.
What did make me nervous was the fact that my training had been lackluster due to residual pain from a knee injury sustained when I got “doored” by a car in December 2012. I tried to avoid surgery by doing the whole PT thing throughout most of the 2013 race season, and even managed some descent results in the typical 20-25 mile XC races. But the pain never went away and prohibited me from doing any kind of endurance riding. At my Doctor’s urging I finally opted for surgery in October 2013. The result of the surgery was “inconclusive”, the recovery was long, and I was impatient. I had a full 2014 race calendar, skills clinics to teach, and athletes to train! I had to ride my bike! So, essentially I tried to balance the intensity and length of my training rides with the amount of pain I could tolerate and the amount of time I had available to recover.
Normally, I would have gotten off the bike completely and just not raced. But I felt that there was too much riding on this particular event (pun intended). So, I set myself a goal time of 8.5 hrs, something I thought would be attainable even with my knee injury, and set out to make it happen.
RIDE OR BUST
Knowing that my sub-optimal fitness alone would not be enough to get me through Leadville by my goal time, I decided to do everything else in my power to better my odds: altitude acclimation, course pre-rides, nutrition and hydration strategizing, analyzing data of riders that finished around my goal time … [MORE]
IMBA will celebrate its eleventh-annual Take a Kid Mountain Biking Day (TKMBD) on Saturday, October 4, 2014. This is a great opportunity for you to share your passion for pedaling with kids!
TKMBD, developed and coordinated by IMBA, strives to encourage communities around the world to join together and ride mountain bikes with youth. Over the years IMBA has had tens of thousands of kids participate from across the globe, including: Italy, Australia, South Africa, Canada, Malaysia, and Mexico. Informal or formal, one child or 100 children, TKMBD celebrates the joy of riding in the dirt.
Besides being good, healthy fun, the goal is to develop a connection between kids and the natural world around them. Today’s children are tomorrow’s land managers and politicians — future decision-makers for important matters like recreation and access to public lands. How different might our current access landscape look today if previous generations of policy makers had grown up riding bikes on natural-surface trails?
Our Ninja Skills Team is super excited and we’ve got a fun afternoon planned. We will set up skills stations where we can practice the basics in small groups before we head out to put them to the test on the trails.
Please note, this is a free event!
The whole Ride Like a Ninja team is looking forward to seeing you and your family. We’ll have fun giveaways and prizes waiting, too.
Sign up today! :: http://www.meetup.com/Mountain-Bike-Workout/events/201164132/