Whenever improving technique is a goal, a good coach will usually suggest a set of drills to help isolate a particular part of the big picture. Although they are a HUGE part of training in swimming and running, they just aren‚Äôt as prevalent in cycling ‚Äì ESPECIALLY mountain biking. So if you‚Äôve been wanting to improve your mountain biking technique, here‚Äôs a set of 3 simple drills that you can do in your neighborhood, backyard, or at the trailhead (while you wait on that ‚Äúone friend‚Äù that we all have that seems to take forever to get his helmet buckled ) !.
* The ‚ÄúFigure 8‚Äù: This drill is so simple, yet one of the best balance and control drills out there for mountain bikers. Start in a wide flat area (like any trailhead parking lot) and turn in the widest circle that the area will allow. Once you are back where you started, turn the other way and make another circle. With each lap you make (leaving a big giant ‚Äò8‚Äô on the ground with your tracks), narrow your turn to make the 8 smaller and smaller. Eventually, you will be turning as sharply as you can and making a very small 8 on the ground. It becomes increasingly difficult to maintain balance and/or speed once the 8 becomes small, and with time you will get better and better at it.
* The ‚ÄúSlow Ride‚Äù: Another great simple basic: just ride as slowly as you can. This drill is all about balance ‚Äì a key component of mountain biking. This can be done anywhere, from your driveway to the trail. Start off riding normal (don‚Äôt start with a trackstand), then slow yourself down to a stop. Without touching your feet to the ground, hold the trackstand as long as you can, then pedal a small amount to regain your balance. The length of time that you can hold it will go up and up, and the distance that you move forward to regain your balance will go down and down. For fun, have a ‚Äúslow race‚Äù with your riding pals ‚Äì whoever gets there last without turning off the course wins!
* ‚ÄúCurb Drill‚Äù: This drill can take many forms, and could be broken down into at least 5 different drills. This is fantastic practice for learning wheel placement, body weight placement, and the ever useful ‚Äúbunny hop‚Äù. Using a curb on a street, a parking bumper in a parking lot, or a ledge on the trail, just practice going up and down as smoothly as you can. Try many different approach angles, including riding parallel to the curb. For example, once you are good at it, ride down the street along the curb (like in the gutter), and practice popping up onto the sidewalk, then dropping back to the street, over and over. Practice one wheel at a time, and then graduate up to hopping up with both wheels. If you find a curb with a good approach, try to hop all the way up without either tire touching. And then when you get REALLY good at it, find a small staircase with 3 steps and practice going up and down, up and down.
As with most drills, as long as you practice these on a regular basis, your body will adapt and eventually perform the new skill set without much conscious thought! And your mind will be free to focus on whatever else you‚Äôre trying to do!