A lot more goes into technical climbing than just “pedal and pray”! Getting your bike up and over technical terrain requires you to use multiple tools in your riding toolbox usually in quick succession, at low speed and with precision. Let’s break down the art of technical climbing and see if we can get you clearing those daunting climbs with less frustration and more success.
1. Set up for success
Set your speedprior to starting the climb. When you first start technical climbing you may come to the conclusion that momentum improves your odds of success. And to some degree, you’d be right. However, the “right” amount of momentum is going to be relative to the length, technical features and grade of the climb in front of you. If it’s a relatively short technical section, you may be able to use momentum to blast up and over any obstacles by relaxing and letting your suspension do the work. However, if it’s a long(er) technical climb where momentum will diminish before the top, you must have the skills to tackle the terrain at low(er) speeds.
Next, choose a gearthat doesn’t have you spinning out of control or that isn’t so hard you can’t turn the pedals over.
Get off your…saddle!If you are seated, you can’t move your weight around to stay centered over the bike as you climb. So, up you go!
Spot your lineby using your route finding skills to spot the path of least resistance and go in with a plan of attack.
2. Stay centered
Climbing is a delicate balance and involves constant movement between the front and back of the bike. Keep your center of mass over the pedalsby subtly moving forward and back to maintain even weight control on both tires. If your front tire starts to lift off the ground, you’ll quickly lose directional control (and that’s when you get off balance and topple over). No one likes toppling over. Instead, quickly bring your weight forward to counteract. On the opposite end, if you back tire starts to spin out, bring your weight back to counteract. Sometimes you might need a big (not-so-subtle) shift of weight to help propel your bike up and over a larger obstacle.
3. Eyes on the prize
Look where you want to go! If you’re staring straight at a rock in your way, guess what? You are going to ride straight into said rock! Really. Instead of resorting to “deer in headlights”, see the obstacles in your path, figure out what skill you will utilize to get over or around the obstacle, and then look past it at your exit. Use your vision to constantly be working out the puzzle in front of you and don’t get caught staring at one spot!
4. Dig into your toolbox
Depending on what you encounter on your climb, here are a few skills you might put to work:
Pedal Assisted Wheel Lift
Sometimes unweighting your front wheel isn’t enough and it gets hung up on an obstacle. In this case, it’s time to pull out the pedal-assisted wheel lift from your toolbox. This is done by timing the your pedal stroke so that the power stroke assists you in getting your front wheel up and over the obstacle. The pedal assisted wheel lift is just like the start of a wheelie.
If you find yourself clipping a pedal, put your ratcheting skills to work! A quick adjustment of your pedal positioning can be the different between cleaning the climb, or not.
It is critically important to be aware of the path of both your front-wheel and rear-wheel on technical trail. Each wheel is likely following its own line, especially as you’re traversing through rocks or roots. Being aware of your wheel tracking takes time and practice. Practicing the rock dodge skill on a flat area will help you be more aware of this wheel tracking so you can better set up for a successful line choice when technical climbing.
The track stand will give you the upper hand in technical climbing! Having the ability to stop, think and potentially change directions or adjust your line can be highly valuable. Mastering a track stand takes consistent practice, you’ll find yourself using this skill regularly and your technical climbing will improve dramatically. You’re welcome.
Still struggling on a technical climb? Not sure what you’re missing?
First, check yo-self. Where are your thoughts? Are you thinking, “I’m never going to make this climb”. Or, are you saying, “I can do this. I’ve got my toolbox of skills and I’m making it to the top today!”. You should never underestimate the power of positive thinking.
Try to figure out what is happening right before you put your foot down. Is your back tired getting hung up on a root? If your front wheel starting to pull up and off the ground? Once you determine the problem, pick the skill best suited the help you fix the mistake.
How can you tell if you are properly centered over the bike? When climbing, if your bike were to magically disappear from beneath you, you should land balanced on your feet. You shouldn’t go tumbling forward and you shouldn’t go somersaulting backyard. Landing means you’ve properly adjusted your body position to the angle of the climb so you are not too far forward, not too far back.
What are you waiting for? Get out there and get climbing!
G2 Bike looks forward to many more of these clinics in this area.
Ninja Mountain Bike Skills is a warm and friendly environment to learn new skills and hone ones you already know....
Ninja Mountain Bike Performance
Ninja Mountain Bike Skills is a warm and friendly environment to learn new skills and hone ones you already know. It's a non intimidating environment where mistakes are welcomed so corrections can be made. I own G2 Bike is Aliso Viejo and this clinic has been ran out of the Aliso Woods area and when I interviewed the clients they had all but great things to say. None arrogant instructors and easy to follow steps. The biggest bang for many was meeting new area riders at their skill level, gaining confidence, and getting the bike set up and fit properly. G2 Bike looks forward to many more of these clinics in this area. Thanks Richard for all you do for the MTB community! ~ AJ S.
I’m so glad I made the decision to be part of the Mulberry Gap 3-day clinic.
I'm so glad I made the decision to be part of the Mulberry Gap 3-day clinic. Richard and Randy are...
Ninja Mountain Bike Performance
I'm so glad I made the decision to be part of the Mulberry Gap 3-day clinic. Richard and Randy are really skilled at breaking things down, very patient and kind. They were very attentive to what each of us needed individually while maintaining a no-pressure, fun vibe. The place is beautiful, rustic and offers a great opportunity to unplug. It's the seemingly little things that make a big difference in your riding, and I feel like I gained some useful insight about not only being on the bike, but set-up and nutrition as well. ~Susan Tully
Highly recommended! Essential riding skills are thoroughly broken down making them easy to understand and learn. Coach Richard and Kris...
Ninja Mountain Bike Performance
Highly recommended! Essential riding skills are thoroughly broken down making them easy to understand and learn. Coach Richard and Kris are some of the most professional and pleasant coaches/cyclist/people I have come across. Looking forward to one of their future clinics. ~ Tom T.
We are a group of passionate, dirt-loving, community oriented, world class mountain bike skills instructors committed to helping you reach your personal riding goals through clinics and camps. We are excited to work with riders of all ability levels and share the joy (STOKE) of mountain biking.