This is a guest blog from April Pishna, co-host of Craft Beer Travel & Adventure podcast and the website, Living a Stout Life. April & Kenny are our co-hosts for Camp Carpe Diem and will be leading the brewery and mountain biking tours.
Kenny and I started our mountain biking adventures in our 40’s, making us a bit more cautious than those youngsters out there starting in their teens and becoming crazed riders into their twenties. We learned from others. So we want to spread the love and share a few mountain biking tips with you. We hope these get you out of feeling like a beginner and into feeling like you know a little bit about what you’re doing.
6 Mountain Biking Tips to Get You to That Next Level
The best advice I ever got was from a friend of mine who invited me to join an all women’s mountain biking group. The advice was simple. When not pedaling, keep your pedals parallel to the ground. Meaning do not let one pedal be higher than the other (level pedals).
Keeping your pedals at the same level will prevent that lower pedal from possibly hitting that large rock you thought you just rode over, but your pedal decided it wanted to hit it instead, and BAM! On your face! No more pretty cheekbones for you.
The Gear that Clears the Hill
Hills suck! Even if you are riding for the exercise and not for the pure enjoyment of biking (which is what you should be riding for), hills suck! We do a lot of mountain biking at elevation, meaning you are already short of breath, you are riding on dirt and rocks, and now you want me to ride up a hill?! Insert cuss words here! 🤬
So, if they suck, why not just avoid them? Cuz there’s that downward reward at the end. So, how do you conquer that hill to access that reward? Put your bike in the lowest gear and pedal hard! Right? Wrong!
Yes, you want your bike in a lower gear, but oftentimes that lowest gear doesn’t give you the ability to pair that much needed human power with the lower gear, so you find yourself spinning not only your pedals, but also your tires as you get nowhere going up that hill. So, when climbing that hill, lean forward, put a little effort into your pedaling, and keep that gear just one shift higher than you think.
Brakes Deserve Equal Pressure
What goes up, must come down. Depending on the trail you have chosen, this isn’t always the case, but part of the reward of mountain biking is to earn your beer.
So climb that hill, but make sure you get to fly a bit, too. Just not over your handlebars. So, when that downhill is scaring the crap outta you and you find yourself missing that uphill because at least it’s slower, press both the front and back brake equally and slowly so as not to fly over the handlebars, yet keep you flying (slowly) down the hill.
I don’t know about you, but I’d rather not be drinking my beer through a straw while sitting in a hospital bed. Do they even allow that?
Drop It and Back It Up
Now that you know how to properly handle your brakes, you’re ready for some excitement flying down that hill you so meticulously climbed. You’ve earned that reward.
But don’t start flying yet. You’ve got to prepare yourself for that downhill, so your flying doesn’t consist of over the handlebars. If you have a dropper seat, now’s the time to drop it. Then back your ass up towards the rear tire, so you’re not leaning too far over the handlebars. This position will shift your weight towards the back giving you equal weight over your bike as you enjoy your well-earned downhill.
The Switchback Dance
Switchbacks on a road while driving an RV doing 20 mph are already scary enough, now you’re telling me there are switchbacks on mountain biking trails? Yep, and they are quite fun to maneuver, especially when you know how to do so.
When heading into a switchback, whether uphill or downhill, the key is to give yourself enough space to make the turn. So, when heading into a left switchback head to the right side of the trail, and vice versa.
If heading downhill, try to get most of your braking done prior to entering the switchback. When entering, choose your line ahead of time – know where you’re going (not what you’re trying to avoid) – and shift your bike (slightly) into the direction you want to go, rotating your body into the turn as you go. The tighter the turn, the more lean in your bike.
Take Your Bike for a Walk
The joy of being on a bike compared to an RV, is that you can always get off your bike and walk it around an obstacle, a switchback, or anything you don’t feel comfortable with.
For example, those pesky switchbacks can be quite intimidating the first time you come across one, especially heading downhill. If it truly scares the crap outta you, get off your bike and walk it down. However, I recommend trying it, and if you don’t like the way you rode it, get off your bike, walk it back up the hill, and try it again. Just remember common sense; if on a busy trail, don’t do this. If nobody else is around, and it seems you have the trail to yourself, this is a great time to practice skills.
There have been many intense hills combined with switchbacks that piss me off when I don’t maneuver them successfully, so I will adjust something, whether it be a gear, or my riding style, or picking a different line, and then try it again.
I am also not afraid of walking my bike when I come across a portion of a trail that I am not comfortable with. There is no shame in wanting to live beyond your adventure. By all means, push past your comfort zone and challenge yourself, but don’t attempt something you are not prepared or trained for. You want to live another day for more adventures and, of course, more craft beer rewards!
Of course, the other piece of advice casually mentioned here is that, while not necessary, it does help build confidence to join a group of like-minded riders. They become friends, teachers, and best of all, fellow craft beer drinkers with which you can share your own wisdom in return for their biking wisdom. Another reason to hang out with us at Camp Carpe Diem.
What’s Better than Mountain Biking?
Is there really anything much better than jumping on your bike and hitting the trails? Um…YES! Riding with friends and drinking the beer afterwards! We hope you can join in on all the fun at Camp Carpe Diem. Even if you don’t mountain bike, there’s plenty of other activities to check out and new people to meet!
More about MTB at Camp Carpe Diem
We’re going off of the assumption that you know how to ride a bike and have ridden a few mountain biking trails in your time. We’re also assuming you have a mountain bike. If you are looking for recommendations on purchasing or renting one, please reach out to us at KenandApril@LivingaStoutLife.com. We want you to be excited about mountain biking!
Since CCD doesn’t happen until October, you’ve got time to get ready for MTB fun, and use these six mountain biking tips to get you stoked for riding with friends.
Meet Your MTB Camp Hosts
We are Ken and April of Living a Stout Life, and we love mountain biking, craft beer, travel, and making new friends. When we moved into our RV almost three years ago, we thought we’d be on our own when traveling.
Not a chance. We now have a tribe of fellow travelers. Some like the same things we do, some do not. But all of us like each other, and we love the freedom of traveling.
We want to bring that to you through Camp Carpe Diem. It’s why we teamed up with The Virtual Campground. We found each other on the road, and we want to help you find your tribe and explore interests to keep you excited about this wonderful world we live in.