Mountain bike cornering in the mud
30 August, 2022
Mountain bike riding is an all weather sport. Many riders prefer the cooler months of winter for riding due to the high intensity nature of the exercise. When riding in winter months in South Australia, you need to be prepared for wet conditions and therefore muddy trails.
So what's to be done when heavy rain soaks the ground and the road fills with mud? How can control be kept while minimising slips and falls?
It's time for a refresher on the basics of cornering, and for proper handling to balance speed and control at berms and corners.
Fundamental of cornering:
- Speed: Control your speed prior to turning a corner. Most would slow down approaching a turn and gather speed after the turn. Think about gear level you need to be in before the turn and the gear you need past the turn.
- Body Position: Keep in mind not to sit too far over the rear or too far forward, as you need to maintain the centre of your weight above the bike at all times. Foot position needs to be either flat footed (both even to each other) or have the foot on the outer side down. Others may disagree, but we believe it is a personal preference with mountain biking.
- Eyes: Scan for the exit as you make your way through the corner. Twist your hips as your body follows through along your line of vision towards the exit.
- Remain calm: It is critical not to feel tense and stiff, in order to better maneuvre the bike. Some of the best riders in the world almost look like they are dancing on their bikes as they fly down muddy and technical descents.
There’s no need to learn anything new on your technique as you face sloppy, muddy corners. Although the technique is unchanged, there are many things you can do to refine your process and tweak your performance.
Muddy Riding Tips:
- Tyres: Try reducing tyre pressure by 2 - 3 PSI. One effect of this is that it improves the ride with softer tires, allowing them to conform over obstacles and improve traction. However note that drastically reducing the PSI may result in flat tyres due to pinch- bites.
- Speed: Lower your speed when riding through mud. Hitting mud at higher speeds can lead to a loss of control and sliding. In saying that if you go too slow you make get stuck in the mud, and no one wants to have to put their foot down in mud!
- Body Position: When you are at a muddy patch, keep your feet flat on the pedals and put some weight back. The instinct to slam on the brakes will be obvious, but this may result in a spill. Avoid or at least minimise using your front brake when it's muddy.
- Suspension: It helps to dial down the rebound setting on your bike by a few clicks if you foresee the terrain ahead will be a little muddy. This will decrease any "springiness" and reduce the rebounding. This adds to better contact with the trail while allowing the bike’s better absorption of impact.
With all of the above considered the main thing is so stay relaxed on your bike and in control. Mountain Biking is as much about the adventure as it is about the exercise so enjoy the experience!
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