Tuesday, June 10, 2014

MTB Skills - Neutral vs Ready Position

All mountain bike skills have one thing in common. BALANCE! A simple change in terrain will cause the bike to tilt forward or back. As this happens, we shift our position fore/aft to remain in balance. When searching for the cause of difficulty performing skills on the mountain bike, we can often trace them back to an imbalance or an error in position over the bike.

Although we may spend the majority of our riding time seated on the bike, we need to rise and stand over the bike when performing even basic maneuvers. This allows us to maintain balance by moving the bike under us in response to the terrain. We utilize one of two riding positions on the bike depending on the challenges that lie ahead.

A Neutral Position on the bike allows us to ride confidently over gentle or relatively easy terrain. Maybe a gradual descent down a dirt road, fire road, or field. We could encounter something unexpected. When standing over the bike in the Neutral Position, we are balanced and prepared. Here are elements of a good Neutral Position:
  • Pedals level and equally weighted. One foot in front of the other creating a wide platform.
  • Hips high and centered over the bottom bracket of the bike.
  • Slight bend in knees to absorb bumps.
  • Elbows bent out slightly for stability. Not towards the ribcage.
  • Head up with eyes scanning the terrain.
  • Relaxed grip on handlebars with one finger on each brake lever.
Neutral Position
A Ready Position is used when encountering more challenging terrain. This position is used to withstand impacts of the terrain or when anticipating challenges ahead. It is also used during the set-up and follow-through of many skills and maneuvers. Although the Neutral and Ready position are similar, there are a few distinct difference:
  • Crouched with hips and shoulders low
  • Deep bend in knees and elbows without compromising strength.
  • Knees out slightly to allow for more movement of the bike between the legs.
  • Eyes committed to the riding line ahead.
  • Slight contraction or tensing of muscles in arms, legs, and torso.
  • Our mind is confident and attentive.
Ready Position

The Ready Position is a key skill that is often overlooked. Riders without instruction are simply unaware. Most riders wait too long and then rush into the position at the last moment. They end up in a position somewhere between Neutral and Ready. I call that the Lazy Position. They do not achieve balance as they begin a maneuver and tend to struggle later.

As I do instruction with more riders, I find that extra attention to the Ready Position makes a huge difference. Enough that I have made changes to my own riding behavior and see benefit. When faced with a significant challenge on the trail, I now get into a Ready Position earlier. Then have an extra moment to focus on the next skill I need to execute. It is easier to remain balanced. Therefore, I am able to ride more challenging terrain faster and with less wasted energy.

Thanks for reading!

Descending with balance, confidence, and control.

1 comment:

  1. This is great post.I like this post. Many many thanks for this post.Really this post is so helpful for the kids balance bike . see more