how to start getting better DH

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  • how to start getting better DH
  • thomthumb
    Member

    see jedi.

    hands down the best vfm.

    Premier Icon crazy-legs
    Subscriber

    Imagine that the rider in front has a big bag of crisps for you, you just need to catch them. ๐Ÿ˜‰

    To be honest, I’m the same and it’s not helped by the fact I’ve done very little MTBing for ages now. Need to get back into it this winter, planning on doing some trail centre stuff with a couple of mates who are better than me, that should hopefully act as a bit of tuition and an incentive.

    Or I could fall off and break myself as I chase them down the hill, one or the other…

    nwill1
    Member

    Ride with people who can ride what you want to ride…watch them, talk to them then follow them.

    Start small…repeat until comfortable…build it up incrementally…each time you get comfortable move it up.

    Is it just buy a bunch of pads and a full face and ‘woman’ up a bit?

    No. Simply strapping on pads can, IMHO, give people some sense of being invincible. Far better to

    Ride with people who can ride what you want to ride…watch them, talk to them then follow them.

    Start small…repeat until comfortable…build it up incrementally…each time you get comfortable move it up.

    maxtorque
    Member

    Firstly, i’d say pads are a good idea. Lets face it, if you’re going to “Push it” at all, you ARE going to fall off at some point, it’s inevitable, so pad up! (There are now plenty of less bulky, less Stormtrooper looking pads and padded clothings now availiable that will take the sting out of any tumbles)

    Secondly, speed is nothing without control. Anyone can take their brain out, and let go of the brakes and just sail into stuff at warp nine, hang on and hope. But, watch the really good riders, and they “flow” down the trail, fluid, loose and keeping everything moving forward rather than getting hung or tripped up on trail features. You need to have a basic level of technique, including observational and mental skills dialled otherwise there is a good chance of getting hurt.

    If you can afford it, then a skills course is a perfect way to ensure you are starting facing the right direction. (The usual recommendation of Tony @ukbikeskills here for very good reasons (he’s awesome ๐Ÿ˜‰

    Then, with a good understanding of how a bike and rider “flows” down a trail, and how one needs to manage ones weight to do that, you can try to speed things up a bit. Best to work on one thing at a time, say find a trail with a berm, and session that berm, just working on your body position and inputs to rail round that berm, starting slowly, and getting a tiny bit faster each time. Next time, try say a small drop (6″) and do the same. Plenty of practice and you’ll soon be flying down trails without really having to try to do so, and you’ll be the one waiting for your friends at the bottom.

    maxtorque
    Member

    EXTRA:

    Often, i see people letting the bike ride them rather than the opposite. What i mean by that, is even the most petite rider weighs many times more than their bike, so it’s where YOUR mass goes that is important, not where the bikes goes. Learn to let the bike move around under you, get used to how that feels and after a while you’ll naturally be able to feel when that movement is normal, and when it starts to get “out of control”. At that point, the next step, and the real key to going fast is when you can be “active” with the bike, ie starting to pump and maneuver it and your mass BEFORE you get to a trail feature, so rather than being reactive, you are pre-emptive (for example, pumping the bike into a hollow in the trail to gain speed, or unweighting the front wheel to “hover” over a root etc

    emsz
    Member

    first things first, I’m a real wuss DH.

    I wanna get better so I want to try pushing it a bit, but I’m scared of the really big stuff and I can’t afford, and I don’t really want a full suss bike, so what do I do? My dad will happily take me to Wales and I try to push it on the trails at Afan and cymcarn , but I scared of falling and hurting myself….arrrghh it’s so frustrating!!

    Is it just buy a bunch of pads and a full face and ‘woman’ up a bit? ๐Ÿ˜†

    tips and advice for the girl everyone waits at the bottom for? pretty please

    darkslider
    Member

    As has been mentioned already the quickest way to improve is to get out riding with people that are better/faster than you. If you’ve got any riding buddies that could teach you a thing or two just try to hassle them to tag along on their rides as much as possible, ask for feedback wherever you can and take on board any tips they’ve got.

    Unfortunately there aren’t a huge amount of girls that are into mountain biking, but as you’re in a small minority any local girls that ride should be well up for welcoming another one into the sport! Have a quick google and see if you can find your local mountain bike club and go along for a ride, most clubs in my experience have got a few female members who would be more than happy to help you out. If you can’t find anything on google, pop into your local bike shop or trail center maybe and ask there.

    Might be worth applying for this too, training session with Manon, Katy and Tracy Moseley? http://www.pinkbike.com/news/girls-ride-day-with-three-world-champions-2014.html

    (Edit, if you’re in the right age range obviously, I was guessing you are if you don’t drive)

    I asked a very similar question last week about improving my enduro racing. Loads of suggestions banded about. I think the main points I took away from it were:
    – 101% confidence in your bike, especially the brakes!
    – pads will help give you a little bit more of a feeling of invicibility
    – look for the fast lines rather than the fun lines
    – watch/ride/follow fast riders and see how they ride sections you struggle on
    – maybe some training. A lot of skills courses seem to be aimed at trail riding and skills to get over obstacles on the trail. Not sure how relevant they would be to racing so I went and started looking for more race focused courses. Found one near me who run courses at Hamsterley and going to look more at the ones that Neil Donoghue runs at Llandegla.
    – ride more. Obvious but more time on the bike will do the world of good. Ride sections you have problems with time and time and time again – you’ll likely come across similar things on other tracks (big rocks, drop offs, jumps, roots etc).

    Premier Icon nickjb
    Subscriber

    Either improve you skills or get a skills compensator (better bike). One takes time and effort, the other is a quick fix. Both work.

    I’ve done a few skills courses. For me they were a chance to pick up a few tips rather than a step change but each helped in some small way, although sometimes 2 steps forwards 1 backwards. I’ve also improved my bike which helps with confidence as I know that if I get the line wrong its pretty scary but the bike stays underneath me.

    Nothing beats getting out there and riding, though.

    passtherizla
    Member

    Without mad skills learning DH on a hardtail will be harder, mainly because of the geometry.

    Saying that, if you really don’t want a full sus, start small, build up slowly on drops, and then know speed is your friend. Pad up and get on with it.

    I’ve gone from being scared of anything steep and gnarly to riding far side at revo in 3 minutes and quite happily huck 30 foot doubles in 3 years.

    Premier Icon molgrips
    Subscriber

    Practice, mainly. From previous threads you don’t seem to be on the MTB all that frequently? If so, this does not help. If you are prepared to ride the same bits of trail over and over again (I believe the cool kids call this ‘sessioning’), it can also help a lot because you get to understand how you and your bike respond to the smallest of changes.

    However, bike setup is also critical. If your weight is in the wrong place, stem is too long/short, bike too big etc etc it can make a huge difference. I dunno if you can post a pic of yourself on your bike, from the side? You are small, IIRC, so bike setup can be a bigger issue.

    andywill
    Member

    Skills course was the best “upgrade” I have made, it made a hugh difference to my confidence. We used Firecrest at Aston hill & were very please with what we got out of the course.

    Van Halen
    Member

    learning to crash and not hurt yourself too bad is an art in itself and probably needs to be learnt as you progress your riding. learn to bail. learn to pick soft spots to land in. Learn to roll. Cos of years riding skinny shore i can happily vault from my bike. its saved my arse on more than one occasion.

    Isnt tracy mosely, manon c and tahnee doint a DH day at FOD soon? go to something like that. they will help you out.

    obviously it wont be a magic fix, riding at your boundaries is the best way to progress and push your boundaries. but you will fall off. if you dont fall off your arnt trying hard enough!.

    find something scary (only needs to be one corner) and ride/session it till it isnt scary. then find something else scary and repeat.

    oh and drop your saddle properly. i see lots of people struggleing to learn or practice with a saddle height i couldnt ride. a low saddle just gives you more room to move about. useful when learning.

    jedi
    Member

    thanks for the recommend guys

    Premier Icon sazter
    Subscriber

    I am in the same boat, wanting to improve my riding, yet being a mega wimp. Getting my bikes set up right was the first step, I changed the frame on my ht and immediately gained confidence and speed. I have a full suss for when the going gets rougher but in all honesty I have the most fun riding my hardtail, it just puts me in the best attack position and feels ‘right’ without feeling like I am forcing my body position on the bike like I used to. I am 5′ 6″ and ride a 16″ Dartmoor Hornet, it is unforgiving at the back and gives a LOT of feedback, but it takes a few mins to get used to it after riding the full suss and then it just feels great.

    I also started riding local dh stuff with a few guys. They are all better than me, so I try and keep up to an extent. All the tracks we ride have multiple options and I started on the easy ones and last weekend accidentally did some of the medium ones without realising, so small progress is being made. I also like when there are other female riders as when it is all guys I use that as excuse for why I am slower and a wimp, but when the chicks hit it I have to let that go and I do try more!

    I now find that when I ride more normal trail stuff I am faster and have better bike skills so all the little things must be falling into place somewhere! I had a couple of skills days and am constantly thinking about what we were told then and trying to apply that to my riding, I think next I will go for a jumping course as wheels off the ground really puts me off.

    I also go to the skatepark weekly for a few hours one evening, I don’t do much but I practice manuals and general bike handling in a warm(er) dry(er) environment. It seems intimidating at first as all the 7 year olds are insane, but with a couple of friends it is always fun once you relax into it, and take time to watch the lunatic kids, you can learn a lot!

    So basically, get the bike set up right, get on the bike more, ride stuff that scares you a bit, then a bit more, practice the basics, ride with people better than you and don’t kick yourself for not doing something, come back next time and try again! If you are ever up this way (Glasgow) I can show you the local stuff! ๐Ÿ™‚

    scottfitz
    Member

    thomthumb – Member
    see jedi.

    hands down the best vfm.

    or
    http://www.divadescent.com/coachingracing/

    DenDennis
    Member

    as above, best VFM is always on coaching rather than kit to improve, especially if you’ve not been to a skills day before.
    can’t recommend any female-specific courses as Im a blurk but as above jedi (tony) is the best coach I’ve had

    Premier Icon molgrips
    Subscriber

    as above, best VFM is always on coaching rather than kit to improve, especially if you’ve not been to a skills day before.

    .. unless it’s riding position related kit, like the right stem or bars etc.

    toby1
    Member

    as above, best VFM is always on coaching rather than kit to improve, especially if you’ve not been to a skills day before.

    .. unless it’s riding position related kit, like the right stem or bars etc.

    Position should be part of a good skills course – as well as bike setup.

    Personal experience this year, I got coached. I felt similar to you and was concerned about crashing on the way down steep stuff. Simple outcome was that I’m more aware of my position when riding and more confident about the wheels coming off the ground either through jumps or drops. Last time out I was definitely taking technical stuff on faster on more confidently. So I’d strongly recommend getting coached for a day. It won’t sure everything in a day, but it will start some ground work off that you can build on.

    andyrm
    Member

    Pads and full face as first port of call – if you are scared of getting hurt, you’ll stiffen up and ride badly.

    Session sections and work out lines, building up speed each time.

    Find some good local runs and practice riding them chainless – learning to carry speed and lay off the brakes makes a huge difference and also makes you flow much better.

    ๐Ÿ™‚

    Premier Icon bigjim
    Subscriber

    If you are thinking skills course I can highly recommend Helen Gaskell, I got onto a session with her and Emma Guy at Jayfest last year and it was fantastic, http://helengaskellcoaching.co.uk/, http://www.jayfest.co.uk/

    spockrider
    Member

    Don’t worry about feeling wussy, even the pros have wussed over things before they got better.
    The best place for you start is a skills course. ‘Diva Decent’ over at forest of Deane would be ideal for you as you will meet other girls. 12-18 yrs I think the range is. (I’d be there too if I was younger).
    You will sometimes struggle finding other girls to ride with so be prepared to ride with some of the local lads.
    Learn as much as you can riding the hardtail (Yes use pads) and maybe as you get better ask Dad, Mum, family member or friend if they would all help you buy a bike or help you build something that will help you feel more confident on DH runs. It does not have to be expensive. Hardtails are fun for learning the rough stuff, but a FS bike will allow you to push a bit harder if it’s set up right for you and is a bit more forgiving. I started riding some local DH on a Carrera Valour, then a Vulcan hardtail, Scared myself many times so I walked a lot of harder techy trails, but I can ride them on other bikes now without going wuss on myself. If you love riding, you will learn quicker.

    It’s a great time for younger girls to get involved in any bike sport at the moment as there are several schemes and training days to encourage participation. I wish I started earlier than my now older years, so I hope you don’t give up. Harass dad to take you to every bike park he can, and maybe a days coaching at least once or twice a year during the holidays. You will be amazed at what you will be doing in a few months, years time, having the extra skills and confidence. Ride, have fun, one step at a time.

    joefm
    Member

    Sound idea ^

    But if you just want things to think about:

    Practice. Find one track with a mix of stuff that you can repeatedly ride and learn where youre going so you can just concentrate on yourself more as you get more used to the track.

    Learn your lines. Look where you want to go. Get used to braking and controlling speed while putting the bike where you want

    I think its worth “sessioning” sections as well. just try the same section over a few times and you should begin to work out how to ride it quicker. Try and look for different lines in that section as having a good line can be just as important as carrying speed. If you watch the pro downhillers they pretty much all do this in practice, they start slow and work their way up.

    Another thing to think about may be trying to increase your core and upper body strength as that’ll let you move the bike about a lot more and stop your arms and shoulders from tiring as quickly.

    And Lastly i think you need force yourself to be confident, everyone gets scared a little its just how you deal with that. Once you decide your line just blank out and hit it! A full face helmet and goggles will help with this, bizarelly. Once you pull on the goggles you feel like your in a wee cocoon.

    Hope that helps .c .

    Premier Icon timidwheeler
    Subscriber

    What exercises would you recommend to build upper body/core strength?

    +1 for getting a full face helmet. Us girls really worry about smashing our faces up.

    Premier Icon JoeG
    Subscriber

    From Pinkbike

    [video]https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=k6o6_XYDsfA[/video]

    Premier Icon Cheezpleez
    Subscriber

    All the above will work. This will too: watch lots of video of good riders and pay attention to what they are doing. Watch skills vids – and pay attention. Even read those mag features about technique – and remember what they say. Then practise on every ride, every corner, ever drop and pay attention to how stuff feels and how a small weight shift makes a difference.

    Just knowing some basics and thinking about what you’re doing over and over again is how you learn. That said, if you can find someone better than you to follow, that’s a whole lot better. As long as you’re paying attention.

    Above all, have fun and relax.

    spockrider
    Member

    timidwheeler, For upper body strength and core improvement Kettlebell sets are helpful, Planks (pushups), deadlifts. http://www.bikejames.com has some really good info.

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