It turns out, perfecting stair riding will help both your Urban Slayer reputation AND your ability to tackle technical singletrack. Mother nature (and trail builders) frequently throw stair-like features our way on the trail. Perfecting your stair riding will, in turn, better prepare you to smoothly sail down these features.
No more bobble head. No more bumpity bumpity. Here is how you can make riding stairs look and feel smooth and easy.
1. Start Small
As tempting as it may be to go find the steepest gnarliest looking stairs in your city – we recommend starting with a relatively small set of stairs. 3 – 6 steps with a direct entry and clear exit. Build up from there.
2. Get Ready
The Ready Position is your best friend when it comes to riding stairs. Get into your descending ready position with your body back and low enough to maintain even weight on your front and back tires. You should NOT be hanging off the back of the bike as you will lose the ability to effectively control that front wheel. It’s critical that you have even weight on your pedals as well. This will result in your pedals being parallel to the ground (stairs).
4. Ride Perpendicular
No need to get fancy, start with your bike perpendicular to the stairs and ride in a direct line down the stairs. Keep that front wheel facing straight ahead.
3. Keep It Moving
The slower you go, the bumpier your stairs will be. Choose a speed fast enough to smooth out the bumps while still maintaining control of your bike.
5. Weight In Your Feet
Keep a firm grip on your handlebars, but not a death grip. Focus your weight in your feet and allow your upper body (arms and legs) to absorb the bumps as you ride down the stairs. Remember, weight in your feet does not mean lock-out your legs. Rather, keep those legs working like springs to absorb the bike and bumps as you float down them.
6. Relax / Breath
Relax your body, stay loose and remember to breathe!
7. Heads Up!
As you come over the top of the first step, direct your vision to the end of the stairs and as you approach the end of the stairs, bring your head (and eyes!) up to look where you’re going next.
8. Find More Steps, Repeat
Once you’ve got a small set of stairs, find some bigger ones and do it all over again!
9. Take it to the trail!
Getting comfortable on a set of stairs has direct applications to riding technical sections of trails. Next time you come across a set of small water-bars or a series of rocky ledges, activate those stair riding skills and find yourself floating down the trail.
Richard La China is a Professional Mountain Bike racer, USAC Certified Cycling Coach and a IMBA Certified Mountain Bike Skills Instructor who coaches beginner to pro cyclist. Currently working with mountain bike XC, Endurance and Enduro racers and other competitive and non-competitive mountain bike riders seeking to become their best.
This past fall I finally broke down and upgrade my mountain bike. I was riding a hard tail bike mostly...
This past fall I finally broke down and upgrade my mountain bike. I was riding a hard tail bike mostly for the workout. After racing in an Xterra, I realized that a new bike was in my future. ( I could tell a huge story about the process of purchasing a new MB and the massive amount of miss information you can obtain from bike shops. Especially when you know nothing about bikes. ) Not long after I purchased the new MB, I had my first over the handle bars wreck. I still cannot remember the actual crash. I can see the rut that I am about to hit on the downhill, and then I remember waking up on the trail barely able to breath. The crash gave me some time to catch up on email. One of those emails was a beginners MB clinic hosted by Richard and the Ride Like a Ninja crew. I swallowed my pride and signed up. To date I have done everything I was taught. I made every adjustment to my bike that was recommended. I then had the bike fitted. The skills taught that day are priceless to me. For the first time I understand what position my body needs to be in for each type of terrain. I am not perfect by any means, but in my mind I am shouting the word NINJA to remind myself. I practice the techniques ever time I ride. ~ Hal N.
I have been riding for 1.5 years and still have a lot to learn but Richard and the team are...
I have been riding for 1.5 years and still have a lot to learn but Richard and the team are great teachers. I have been a bit apprehensive about jumping in the past but after two days of instruction with Richard, Aaron, Daniel, Ivan, and Erin I feel much more confident and won't be afraid to take on jumps anymore. The instructor staff are all very experienced riders and it showed. They are all also very friendly and most importantly patient. They aren't afraid to share stories of their mistakes while trying to explain why not to do things a certain way. You truly are part of the Team Ninja family when you are at the classes and I can't wait to go back to another class! Thank you Richard and all of the other instructors. ~Jonathan R
We attended the 2-Day Mountain Bike Skills Camp in Denver CO. I'm a beginner to mountain biking and the class...
We attended the 2-Day Mountain Bike Skills Camp in Denver CO. I'm a beginner to mountain biking and the class exceeded my expectations. The first day was basic fundamental training from bunny hops to cornering your bike. The second day we put those skills to the test by climbing and downhill at all different skill levels, Richard and Aaron even took video to help improve our skills. Well worth your time if you want to improve! ~Russ Anderson
Highly recommend this class for all ages/skills. I will definitely be taking more classes!
Great class! I wish I took this class seven yrs ago when I started mountain biking. Richard and his team...
Great class! I wish I took this class seven yrs ago when I started mountain biking. Richard and his team was awesome. I learned how to approach uphill switchbacks, how to "pre-turn", and most important, how to descend with confidence. Bottom line: I am more efficient and safer rider. As another review said, "best money spent on mountain biking." You can have an expensive bike, but if you don't know how to ride, what's the point? Highly recommend this class for all ages/skills. I will definitely be taking more classes! ~Rean
Everything you need to learn to fully enjoy mountain biking.
Mountain biking is a relatively new sport compared to road biking. So the opportunities to find a good mountain biking...
Mountain biking is a relatively new sport compared to road biking. So the opportunities to find a good mountain biking skill clinic are quite scarce. Richard La China and his team offer such clinic! Richard has the training as a Coach from USA Cycling and the experience as an expert racer to develop in you the skills and therefore the confidence to negotiate the treacherous obstacles on your path as a mountain biker. His clinic has several levels from beginner to expert and is organized incrementally to facilitate the learning of more and more difficult skills. In addition to his and his expert team's demonstrations, I also like his verbal explanations about the why of a specific position or skill to have. Richard and his team have the dedication and patience to teach you anything you need to learn to fully enjoy mountain biking. ~ Anne-Catherine