MTB Skills Clinic Station Recap

Station 1: Body Position & Balance

Neutral and Ready (Attack) Position

  • Arms wide and out – creates stability and balance (when in attack wider stance)
  • Knees out – cowgirl stance (group 2 named it this)
  • Head up
  • Level Pedals
  • Chest forward over the stem (attack and climbing position)
  • Be loose! – relaxed arms and legs
  • Allow the bike to move underneath you.  This will give you the ability to approach any obstacle
  • One finger brake

Lateral Movement

  • Windshield wiper arms
  • Be loose and keep body quiet while elbows do the work
  • Push that handle bar out
  • Keep low center mass
  • Being able to move your hips around the cockpit of the bike will maximize balance and control and improve your flow on the trial especially in cornering
  • Practice non dominant foot in front.  You are not always going to be ready to attack a technical section with your dominant foot forward
  • Always be Smiling

Station 2: Shifting & Braking


  • Practice shifting your bike before heading out on the trail. Do your gears all work? Get familiar with which way to shift your bike to make pedaling easier and harder
  • If you have more than one ring in the front, watch that you don’t cross your chain
  • When shifting, practice “soft shifting.” Keep pedaling but lay off pedal pressure when making the shift to avoid chain damage/breakage
  • When approaching a hill, look forward to anticipate a gear change. Try to keep a consistent pedaling cadence through your ride. This may mean shifting up or down depending on terrain


  • Look ahead
  • Attack/Ready Position
  • Shift your weight back when going downhill
  • Right is Rear; Left is Front
  • 50% front; 50% back pressure
  • Feather/slowly apply pressure to your brakes to slow the bike
  • Hard brake will not send you over the handlebars if you’re in the correct body position!
  • When cornering downhill: brake before the corner; feather to maintain the same speed into the corner; release the brakes as you come out of the corner

Station 3: Trail Scanning & Approaching Obstacles / Bike Maintenance

  • Look up!
  • Where you look is where you will go
  • Allows you to shift, brake, position yourself up for the obstacle
  • Allows you to be more proactive than reactive
  • Square your body up to the obstacle. Once you are square look to your exit
  • Don’t let the obstacle draw all of your attention
  • Speed is your friend

Flat Repair

  • Shift into lowest cog
  • Remove wheel
  • Air valve at 3 or 9 o’clock
  • Push tire bead into the center channel of the rim
  • Pull bead of tire over the rim with tire lever
  • Remove air valve (tubeless)
  • Check inside of tire for thorns
  • Partially inflate new tube
  • Insert tube into tire
  • Push tire bead into center of rim and work it around
  • Check to make sure tube isn’t in-between rim and tire bead
  • Inflate tire
  • Align chain on your smallest cog and rotor inside the brake calipers
  • Ride your bike!

Station 4: Pumptrack

  • Pumping in the pumptrack teaches you to use the terrain more effectively and helps you learn good terrain anticipation. Riding a pump track will teach you a number of critical skills that can benefit you in tangible ways out on the singletrack.
  • It teaches you how to pump the terrain to gain speed
  • It teaches you how to ride berms and improve cornering
  • It teaches you how to maintain momentum in order to ride as fast as possible
  • It helps you learn how to look several steps ahead of where you’re riding
  • It creates a playful bike-handling demeanor, allowing you to see interesting lines on the trail that might not be so obvious
  • To pump in the track, absorb any surface that faces the way you’re coming from, and push into any surface that faces the way you want to go. Part of this push gets translated into forward motion and you gain speed
  • As you approach a berm, make sure you control your speed into it, then maintain good cornering position through the berm, and try to exit on the other end with more speed than you entered. As you ride the berm, make sure you are looking well through the turn at your exit point, and as you approach the exit, make sure that you continue to look even beyond that
  • One of the key ingredients to successful pump track riding (and mountain biking in general) is to maintain a quiet upper body. While the bike will be moving up, down, and sideways beneath you, the goal is to keep your torso, the center of your mass, traveling in as straight of a line as possible as quickly and as fluidly as possible

Station 5: Riding Up & Down Trail Features (Rocks, Roots, Ruts)

“There is no right or wrong when riding the bike. Rather, riding can be defined by more efficient or less efficient movements.”

  • Remember to use the mountain bike as it’s designed. The tires, shocks and arms hinged at the elbows all combine to allow us to easily absorb trail obstacles so we can ride up, over and through with SUCCESS!
  • Think of riding “through” features smoothly and cleanly. No need to intentionally lift the front wheel off the ground except in the most extreme of riding conditions
  • MOMENTUM is your friend!
  • Shift into slightly harder gear when approaching a feature
  • Pedal with determination to gain speed
  • Just before feature, allow for level pedals to avoid a pedal strike
  • Ride up and over or down and through features
  • When climbing features, think about engaging core, lowering chest toward the bar like a push-up and driving through the pedals. PLANK FOR SUCCESS!!
  • The EYES have it. Keep eyes up and scanning ahead on the trail. No need to look down at front wheel as we need to anticipate what’s next
  • Subtle fore/aft movements will win the day. Excessive movements will often cause a loss of traction on either the front or rear wheel
  • When CLIMBING a feature, move weight slightly forward to maintain pressure on the front wheel so it doesn’t lift off the ground
  • When DESCENDING a feature, move weight slightly back and allow the arms to push the bike slightly ahead to avoid going OTB (over the bars)
  • HAVE FUN!!!

View clinic photo album on the Sacred Cycle Facebook Page. 

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