As summer draws to an end and wintery conditions take their toll on the trails, you may think that it’s the end of riding fun ’til next spring.
But think again: now’s your chance to take on new challenges, learn to enjoy winter riding and get yourself set for next spring.
To be a great mountain biker you need to be an all-rounder, so look at all aspects of your riding. One way to polish your skills and riding prowess is to look at areas of riding you dislike. If you find roots wrecking your ride or climbs causing you calamities, then those are the areas to target. The first step is to work out where your weaknesses are, and make improving these areas your goals for the winter.
Here are some suggestions of areas where your technique may need improving to get you started: you can pick the ones that apply best to you.
- Technical singletrack
- Uphill riding
- Steep descents
- Cadence and gear selection (cadence is the speed at which you spin the pedals round)
- Upper body strength
- Core stability
- Breathing technique
However, don’t just focus on mountain biking. Other disciplines and sporting activities will help to keep you it and motivated throughout the winter. A good example is cross-country running: pick a route that requires some concentration with lots of singletrack and tricky sections, so you improve your ability to read trails as you gain greater muscular stability, awareness and up your cardiovascular fitness.
Try swimming once a week. The technique of breathing while swimming – focusing on completely emptying your lungs before you take another breath – will give you greater breathing control, while the resistance of swimming will develop your upper body strength. And if you find yourself faltering, here’s a useful bit of motivation: 90% of your body’s cells will regenerate in 12 months, so you can either set yourself up to be a slob next year or turn yourself into a lean, mean mountain biking machine….