HOW TO BIKE
Absorbing trail features and obstacles properly is crucial if you want to go fast on a bike. Ben Cathro breaks down how to properly absorb a variety of features without getting tossed out the front door or entering the dreaded passenger mode.
Great videos, love how you show the "wrong" way shots as it really illustrates the difference small changes in body position and technique have on riding. Great series so far.
Ben, I would watch a video of you explaining how paint dries.
Any chance it can make an appearance in the next episode?
There is a feature I always struggle with that is on a relatively fast, steep decent where the trail changes gradient to being much steeper for 3-5 bike lengths. I have tried hopping onto it, but the way the trail rolls down to it doesn't really lend itself to that. Ive tried doing a manual into it but with the ground dropping away that gets out of control pretty quickly. After watchin this im tempted to try pumping into it, but i feel like i might eat shit, particularly if im carrying speed. Got any advice?
I do it a little later in the vid as I’ve got a long bike and I think I was trying to push the front wheel all the way down to the transition. That’s a personal quirk of mine rather than something you should emulate.
At the transition the focus is on the push with the legs to drive the back wheel through the transition and settle you back into a centred position.
You can add a little dip of the arms before the lower transition to better guide the front wheel through it (you can see me doing this little dip on the green example at 12:15) but it’s not crucial.
So the focus is push down with the arms just after cresting the steep at the top (puts you into weight back riding down a steep position), push with legs as you hit the transition at the bottom (puts you back into Boss Stance).
Really enjoying this series!!
Agree. Started riding “proper” “steepish” trails this year. Without really thinking about it after a few sessions I was riding far more neutrally within the middle of the bike.
Weight over the back gives you nowhere to go when you get to a feature
And now the big "but": compared to riding at constant speed, when you accelerate you need to have your weight a little more forward for that aimed fore-aft balance and when you decelerate you need to have your weight a little more rearwards. You probably already do this on level terrain, same applies on sloped sections. You're obviously going to accelerate during the first section of the descend so have you body "ahead" of the bike or you're never going to catch up as it accelerates. Imagine leaning too far back when dropping in on a skateboard (ramp, bowl, whatever). The skateboard would just fly away under you (and you'd likely hurt yourself). Stay ahead and the board will nicely come underneath.
Also mind you that this forwards position is only during the first phase as he accelerates. If the descend is longer and you'll brake for a constant descending speed you'll shift your body more rearwards. Yet if you're geometry is right, you should still have enough room to move and shift your body (to absorb irregularities etc). Only when you actually have to descelerate (so actually reduce your speed) you'll shift your weight even more rearwards to avoid an OTB. But you don't want to go there when not needed (so look ahead to avoid unneeded deceleration hence trail erosion) as you will have little room left to move and steer. Also, it seems people have too much fear of going OTB and dive too deep into the other, equallyh unsafe, corner. If you feel the rear wheel lose contact then lower front brake pressure and it will nicely come back down. Develop that reflex and you'll no longer be that scared.
TL;DR: The very forwards body position is what's needed during the first part of the descend where the bike is going to accelerate. This isn't where you'll be when descending at constant speed or when slowing down. Yet indeed during this acceleration phase too many people seem to be too far back which causes them to both lose room to move around over the bike and they'll end up hanging on for dear life as the bike accelerates with them dangling behind.
However, the extended shot of Ben's crotch as he tried to climb the drop was not appreciated.
Ha I think it checks out fine!