26 Oct How to have the most fun biking the Willow Creek Bike Track
The sport of mountain biking has really come a long way. Mountain biking started out in the US in the 1980s when thrill-seekers pedaled down steep dirt roads and off-the-map trails using very basic bicycles.
Nowadays it is way different. We have mountain bikes that make going uphill and downhill much easier and more fun. We are also seeing a lot more designated mountain bike parks with professionally built trails that have varying levels of difficulty. Mountain biking is becoming an increasingly popular sport.
At Willow Creek Adventure Camp we embraced the opportunity to create our very own mountain bike trail. The bike track itself has sections for all abilities from the open flat trails, to flow style switchbacks and pump sections. It makes it the perfect trail for us to teach, and students to learn, mountain biking skills and gain their confidence on a bike.
Top tips to Improve your Mountain Biking
Spot your line and look ahead. Where should your eyes focus when you are biking down a trail? By instinct, a new rider will look immediately in front of the wheel. However, it is much better to train your eyes to look down the length of the trail as far as possible, using your peripheral vision to brush past or work around obstacles.
Always look where you want to ride and not where you don’t want to. Your bike will naturally go where your eyes are looking. If there is a large rock coming up, spot the best line over it and keep your focus there.
Get out of the saddle! If you check mountain biking videos, the riders will nearly always be standing up off their seats, with their knees bent, when riding downhill. Your body acts as a giant shock spring and will help absorb the bumps in the trail, helping you ride smoothly and with more confidence.
Heavy feet, light hands. Whether your feet are clipped in or plain flats, the position of your feet on the pedals can have a big impact on your riding ability. One detail that may improve your riding is to position your feet flat on the ball of your foot and sink your weight into your feet whilst trying to keep your hands on the handlebars light.
Feather your brakes evenly. One thing you may discover when experimenting with braking is that stopping too abruptly will make you feel out of control and could lead to going over the handlebars. Always try to brake gently and slowly squeeze both your front and rear brakes evenly.
Some helpful reminders when mountain biking anywhere:
Always stick to designated mountain bike trails. We are lucky in South Australia to have so many trails open to bike riders. Respect and stay off of trails not open the riders.
After rainfall, check the trail conditions and avoid riding trails that are soft and muddy. This will prevent erosion damage to the trail.
Every pass needs to be a safe and courteous one. When approaching a slower rider slow right down, let them know you’d like to pass, and give them plenty of time to move out of the way. If it is a shared-use trail, always give way to walkers and approach them slowly.
In designated mountain bike parks all trails are labeled with a color and symbol that describes the level of difficulty. Green circles are beginner-friendly trails, blue squares are suited to intermediate riders, and black diamonds (or, gulp, double black diamonds), are for experts only.