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.
Woohoo! As good as it gets is appropriate! Richard is not only a great rider, he is a great teacher!...
Woohoo! As good as it gets is appropriate! Richard is not only a great rider, he is a great teacher! I would encourage everyone to stay away from the mind trap that buying a more expensive mountain bike is what you need to ride better. Spend the money on lessons instead, and I know you will be happier (and safer) in the long run. I can't say enough positive things about the Bike Skills clinics. ~ Chris G.
Within one hour we we clearing a 5 foot jump easily and with confidence!
Wow, a friend and I just did a one day private lesson with Richard and I can’t believe how much...
Wow, a friend and I just did a one day private lesson with Richard and I can’t believe how much we learned. I’ve been riding for over 10 years but with all self taught skills. We wanted to learn fundamentals the right way and Richard took us through all of that (along with critical bike setup) and the intermediate stuff that they teach in one day plus he spent an extra hour at the end to teach us jumping which I had always been nervous about. Within one hour we we clearing a 5 foot jump easily and with confidence, we even learned to move the bike in the air on a crossed take off and landing. I think my favorite part though was riding fast on the very gnarly technical descent. We will be booking up more private lessons during the summer at Big Bear. Thanks Richard you are a very good teacher! ~John U.
I took a Fundamental Skill clinic last weekend and learned so much! I've been riding for a few years and...
I took a Fundamental Skill clinic last weekend and learned so much! I've been riding for a few years and felt stuck and was not improving at all. Aaron was a great instructor! Very patient and broke down everything step by step and we repeated the skills until we felt comfortable. I look forward to mastering the skills I learned and taking another clinic in the spring. ~Jody Hachenberger-Amend
Special thanks to Santa Fe Fat Tire Society for bringing you in!
My wife and I had the privilege of attending the skills 2 day camp in Santa Fe New Mexico August...
My wife and I had the privilege of attending the skills 2 day camp in Santa Fe New Mexico August 20th and 21st. Richard and Aaron and Catherine where fantastic trainers and teachers they brought new light into basic skills of riding each person in the group was able to excel in what we were doing before we moved on to some other awesome skill or task individual attention was felt by all in the group and visible Improvement was seen in all Riders when we have you back next year you should plan on doubling or tripling the number of riders thanks for a super fun weekend and special thanks to Santa Fe Fat Tire Society for bringing you in and of course thanks to Richard and Aaron and Kathryn. ~Bruce Hamby
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.
We are a group of passionate, dirt-loving, community oriented, world class instructors committed to helping you reach your personal riding goals. We are excited to work with riders of all ability levels and share the joy (STOKE) of mountain biking.