Tips for biking steep land

A professional mountain-biker shares some advice on how to deal with steep parts of the trail.

Whether you want to slay a downhill course or do less hike-a-biking on your weekend ride, you need to start with a good body position, says Simon Garstin, a former Canadian Junior Downhill champ. That means standing over your bike with arms and legs bent, elbows out and pedals at 3 and 6 o’clock. Then follow these tips:

1. Look ahead. Further. Garstin scans from a second or two ahead to as far as he can see and back again. Only look where you want to go, especially in corners.

2.  Work your front brake. On descents, most of your weight is over the front tire, so the front brake should be doing 80 per cent of the work. Just hang your butt over the rear tire to keep from going over the handlebars.

3. Brake before corners. “Brake more than you think you need before you reach the corner,” says Garstin. “Release the brakes when you get to the corner. Steer through it and you’ll actually come out faster, with more control.”

4. Pump it up. Mountain biking is all about momentum. Keep it flowing by pushing down on your bike as it drops into a dip or compresses into a corner, then absorbing the bike’s energy as the G-forces release. The best place to get a feel for pumping is at a BMX track or bike park pump track.