Riding a bike downhill...Sounds easy doesn't it.
But check out this sport. It is downhill mountain biking. It is different than traditional mountain biking as you only go downhill...Cool- no climbing!
Downhill mountain biking can easily be regarded as an extreme sport because it is completely different from free riding or even BMX riding, and requires that you have the right know-how, and the right equipment in order to be successful.
Want to give this a try?
Your going to be riding a 7 speed mountain bike with hydraulic disc brakes, a helmet designed for downhill riding, and lots of body padding.
Intermediate or advanced riding skills are required for success. The rider should also have experience when it comes to riding single track, which means riding in small narrow paths rather than riding in wider roads.
Without this level of experience, downhill mountain bike riding can be a truly dangerous sport. An excellent level of balance is also required, as the rider will need to be able to navigate through semi rough terrain downhill, to jump down cliffs and so on.
Blair Thorne's book
How To Master Mountain Biking is a great place to start. He teaches you basic to advanced skills that can get you ready for downhill riding.
Because of the terrain that you will face while riding downhill, it is important for a downhill mountain bicycle to be equipped with hydrallic disc brakes, which will be reliable even during downhill rides.
There are a number of different conditions that you may run into, including rain, mud, snow and dust.
It is also important that you wear the right helmet, which is a helmet designed specifically for downhill biking, and that you have all of the proper padding to protect your body should you happen to fall from your bike.
The helmet for downhill mountain riding resembles a motorcyclist's helmet, offering
full face protection with a heavy glass shield.
The necessary padding for this sport includes knee pads, shin pads and elbow guards. You should also wear a chest, back and shoulder protector that fits snugly but is not too restrictive of your movements. You want it to be snug, but not cut off your circulation.
Here are some tips when flying downhill. When rocks are loose beneath your bike, you should remain flexible and stand on your bike rather than sitting. You should be gentle on the brakes when loose rocks can cause you to be thrown over the bars.
If you are dealing with embedded rocks on the other hand, speed and straight riding are vital because slowing down can cause you to lose your balance. Pedal smoothly when dealing with long sections of rock, and avoid sudden bursts of movement whenever possible.
What is exciting about the downhill mountain biking sport is the fact that this sport begins with traditional bike riding techniques, so you can get started just by knowing how to ride a regular bike.
As your biking skills improve, you can easily ease yourself into more difficult courses and more challenging rides. How far you take the sport of downhill biking is completely up to you.
Downhill mountain biking is about going fast. Here are some skills that will help you do that.
When cornering put your weight back and let off the speed a bit. As you enter the turn let the brakes go. Keep your fingers close in case you need to brake.
Shift your body weight to the outside pedal while pushing down. Your weight in your arms will be on your inside handlebar. You'll press down on this handlebar.
When you are just out of the corner, but still in the turn, pedal at a high speed. You want to pedal out of the turn for more control and speed. As you tackle corners faster be sure you keep your weight over the center of the bike. The bike moves but your weight stays over the center.
If the turn has loose gravel treat the turn the same way, but slow down before you enter the loose stuff.
When you approach loose rock, sand and bedrock on downhill you are going to attack. Do not coast, nor use your brakes. If it is really steep you can coast, but you want to pedal if possible. Pedal one gear too hard, do not spin. Stay loose, I like to think of chickens. Yes chickens. I try to flap my arms and keep them loose like a chicken.
Your legs should be slightly bent and should be your shocks. Your weight is back, while your bike is just rolling over the terrain.
Down a ledge, off a ledge
When going off a ledge make sure your weight is back so you do not do an endo. Your going to pull back on your bars and keep the bike level as you exit the ledge.
As the rear wheel comes off, shift your weight forward, you want your bike to fall even as you leave the ledge. Either land on the back wheel or both wheels if you have a lot of travel in the front.
If you start into an Endo, apply your rear brake! Keep your weight back and your rear wheel should drop faster since you stopped the forward force.
Oh how I dislike ruts. I had a bad crash in a rut at Primal Quest and my teammate did as well. He needed stitches in his arm from being thrown.
If your riding the right side of the rut keep your weight on the left of your front wheel.. Stay on the sides of the rut and use it to get out if possible.
In downhill mountain bike racing, you’ll need to learn to ride the rut. Ride as high on the side as you can of a deep rut and keep your weight of the opposite side of the front wheel. You can ride from side to side on the rut just like you ride the wake in water skiing.
Continue learning more great techniques with the book
How To Master Mountain Biking.
Downhill mountain biking riding culminates with a race.
In California in 1976, 12 riders took 5 minutes to go down 1300 feet. Alan Bonds won because he was the only one who didn't crash! Racers rode "clunker bikes" and one trip down did the brakes in.
There was major repair after one trip down the mountain, so the guys started developing the mountain bike. These were some of those guys:
Gary Fisher, Tom Ritchey, Charlie Kelly, Mike Sinyard and Brian Skinner. These guys ended up founding the biggest name bikes in the business.
The races now are a little different. Racers race against the clock starting at 30 second intervals.
Racers fly down the hill. The first one down wins! The terrain is steep, but there is no climbing. The race is a super high speed and there are crazy jumps.
The 2009 Downhill World Champion is Sven Peat fro the UK. The woman's champion is Emeline Ragot of France.
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