Mountain Bike Training Plan for Beginners
This is a free mountain bike training plan for beginners. It also includes basic mountain bike riding tips.
Push bikes are one of the most common non-motorised forms of transport you will encounter. That is why we learn it in Survival Fitness Plan (SFP). It omits anything “showy” that you would not use if someone was chasing you.
Bicycle riding also has a couple of other very good benefits:
- It is a low impact form of exercise (much better for your knees than running).
- It is good for the environment.
Basic Mountain Bike Training Plan Contents
The skills in this mountain bike training program are useful in urban settings too. It is the skills that are important. You do not actually need to go find mountain bike tracks, especially if you are a city dweller. It will be more beneficial to learn in the environment you most frequent. If that means riding a mountain bike on the road, then that’s fine. Be careful of traffic when riding a mountain bike in the city.
You don’t actually need a mountain bike. Use a BMX or a road bike if you prefer, or whatever you have.
Once you know the basics you only need to practice the techniques and build endurance. Don’t get too used to gears. The bike you pick up off the street when running from your enemy may not have them. Also, you don’t need to get too much into endurance mountain bike training. If you can ride hard for 30 minutes it will be more than most others can do.
Mountain Bike Training Beginner Skills
You can apply these skills to bicycle riding in general. Many people know how to ride a bike but they may not know the basic skills needed to make riding easier and safer.
Straddle the bike with your strongest foot on the peddle. Lightly squeeze the brakes and steady the bike. Release the brakes and push down with your foot. As you start moving, push off the ground with your other foot and lift yourself up away from the bike frame. Keep a firm grip on the bars, pointing the bike forward.
Place your other foot on the pedal and start pedaling. Look forward and continue to pedal as you sit. Don’t grip the handle too tight.
Use the brakes together. Pull the rear brake lever first and then gradually squeeze the front. Brace yourself against the handlebars. Too much front brake and you will go over the handlebars (endo), too much rear brake and you will skid out of control.
The more weight over the wheel the more stopping power it will have. Use this to your advantage e.g. leaning back while braking downhill will help to prevent endos.
The faster you are going the longer it will take to slow down. Keep your brakes covered at all times.
Higher gears are harder to pedal and will help you go faster. Lower gears are easier to pedal and help you get up hills. Shift before you get to the hill.
It is better to pedal faster in a low (easy) gear as opposed to slow in a high gear.
As you ride, look ahead so you can adjust to any obstacles. Slow down for blind corners and brake or steer early and smooth rather than leaving it to the last minute.
Once you are confident with your basic mountain bike riding skills, move onto the drills.
Basic Mountain Bike Riding Drills
Some of mountain bike riding techniques may be challenging when first practicing. Like everything, keep at it.
Stand and Coast
Stand on your pedals without sitting on the seat and coast. Keep your arms bent and don’t lock your knees. Put your pedals horizontal, i.e., pedals level.
Next, shift your body towards the rear of the bike. Use this mountain bike riding position when coasting over obstacles or rough terrain.
Stand and Pedal
Lift yourself off the seat and pedal.
The track stand is when you balance the bicycle in place, keeping your feet on the pedals. Use it so you can go fast from a still position, or to stop short to analyze an obstacle without losing your rhythm.
Coast at a slow speed, pedals level, and then come to a stop. Find your balance position. You can stand, sit, turn your wheel at an angle, etc. Whatever works for you.
Rock back and forth a little. To rock forward let off the brake a little. To rock back pull the bike back underneath you. Repeat this procedure.
Keep some pressure on your front pedal whilst holding the brake to keep you in place.
Ride between two points as slow as possible without putting your foot down. Ride forward at all times. No zigzagging, etc.
The goal is to grab onto one of your heels and keep riding along.
Pedal and then lean to your left. Use your left hand to grab onto your left heel. Continue to hold your heel as you pedal.
You can start off holding your calf, then move to your ankle, then your heel.
Bottle Pick Up
Ride towards an upright bottle so it is off to your side. As you ride past the bottle, lean over and pick it up off the ground. Next, place it back on the ground in an upright position.
Look straight ahead and weave in and out of a set of obstacles in a zigzag fashion. Go to the left of the first obstacle, right of the second, left of the third, and so on. Start with the obstacles in a straight line about 6 feet apart. Bring them closer together as you improve.
Use the same set-up as with the regular slalom but take every other cone and move it left or right 2-3 feet. You’ll have to take wider, sweeping turns, and lean over more to get around the obstacles. Continue to look ahead.
Ride your bike in a figure-8 in as small a space as possible without putting your foot down.
Arrange two lines of cones in a V formation. Ride between them without hitting any. As your confidence increases, move the final pair closer and closer together.
Down A Curb
Coast straight down off a curb. Absorb the drop with your arms and legs.
Advanced Mountain Bike Riding Skills
Learn these advanced mountain bike riding skills only when you are ready. You should be confident in the basic mountain bike riding skills and drills first.
Fixing a Dropped Chain
If your chain drops onto the bottom bracket, pedal easy and shift up with the ‘big’ gears.
When you jam your chain you must get off the bike and put it back on with your hands.
If the chain falls outside the crank arm, e.g., on your foot, coast and shift down toward the small ring. You can use your foot to help place it back on.
Learning to Crash
First learn how to safety roll and then how to dive roll.
When you are confident you can progress to a crash simulation. While riding on grass, slam on your front brakes. Dismount and roll.
When cornering, always look where you want to go. Approach the corner wide and slow down as you approach it. Always apply your brake before turning, never during.
Cut to the apex (the straightest line through a corner), and finish wide.
If you stop pedaling, put all your weight on the outside pedal so it faces down towards the road. Resume peddling as soon as you have passed the apex.
To ride faster, pull the pedal around as if keeping the pedal to the outside of the circle. Lift your knees faster and higher.
Mountain Bike Climbing Training
If you need to shift gears during a climb take a couple power strokes first. Soft pedal for a stroke while you shift, then pedal hard again.
On the road, you can stand, but on dirt stay seated. Slide your bum forward on your seat, and lean over the handlebars. Put your elbows back (not down). Pedal smooth.
Downhill Mountain Bike Riding Techniques
Downhill mountain bike training is more dangerous but you must practice it.
To prevent the chain from falling off, shift into the big chain-ring.
Stand with pedals level and shift your weight over the back wheel. Stay loose on the bike. Don’t lock your elbows or clench your grip. Steer with your body. Let your shoulders guide you.
Brake on solid dirt or rock where you can get traction, as opposed to loose soil or gravel.
Floating Over Terrain
On rough terrain, let the bike float underneath you. It will move in different directions as it hits bumps. Keep your body upright and the bike pointed down the trail.
Looking Behind Yourself
Make sure the path ahead is clear. Relax your right arm to drop your shoulder a little. Bend your elbow and relax your right hand. Turn your head left and slide your butt to the right as you glance over your shoulder.
Overcoming Obstacles While Mountain Bike Riding
Down A Ledge
Shift your weight back, drop your wrists to pull up the handlebars and level the bike. Shift your weight forward as the rear wheel goes airborne.
Get in the same position as if you were riding downhill.
Coast at medium speed and, without applying the brakes, push down on the handlebars. Pull upward and straighten your arms to bring the front wheel off the ground. Place it back down gently.
Shift your weight forward and turn your pedals so that your feet are almost vertical. Press back against the pedals as you push your legs up. Pull the back end up with your leg muscles then bring it down gently.
When you are log hopping, the front pull and hip-hop become one motion. Perform the front pull and bring it high enough to clear the log. Touch the front wheel on top of the log and as the front wheel starts to roll over do a hip-hop.
If the log is wet avoid touching your wheels on the top of it.
A bunny hop is like a log hop but with the intention of having both wheels off the ground at the same time.
Perform a front pull and whilst your front wheel is in the air use the push/pull motion to get the back wheel up. Level your bike in the air and try to squeeze your legs together. Land your back wheel first.
This is the last fitness manual you’ll ever need,
because it is functional training at it’s best!
Basic Mountain Bike Training Plan Conclusion
If someone is chasing you and you come across a bike of any kind, these mountain bike riding skills will give you the best chance of escape.
You will be able to go as fast as possible in the safest possible manner.
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Bert Luxing is the original creator of the Survival Fitness Plan.
Apart from all the subjects on this website, he also enjoys traveling, reading, watching movies, and learning languages.