Henry County Bike Club

Open to all types of biking and skill level. More »

Dick and Willy Trail Martinsville

The Dick and Willie Passage Rail Trail is a beautiful 4.5 mile paved rail trail that is located in Martinsville and Henry County. The trail begins at Virginia Avenue and ends near Mulberry Creek in Martinsville. More »


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Ceader Ridge Martinsville

6 acres of wide open Mountain Biking trails More »


How Best To Avoid Crashes While Mountain Biking

When I talk to folks who are new to, folks who have quit, and even folks who are active participants in mountain biking, the topic of crashes nearly always come up.  It especially comes up from beginners and from those who tried the sport and moved on to something else.  I guess that is self explanatory that these guys talk about it the most since it seems to happen to them the most.  Do you know why we crash so much in the woods?  The answer may fool you.  It is because we go too slow, that’s right, too slow!
Here are two reasons why we go too slow and thus the reasons for crashing.  First, the whole experience is new to us so WE ARE SCARED to go very fast and presumably run off course, clip a tree, hit a jump unexpectedly, ride off a cliff, or to simply slide out and go boom so we are overly cautious to a fault.  Second, we are new to it all so IT IS PHYSICALLY HARD especially climbing so again we go slow pedal stroke by pedal stroke and therefore have a hard time keeping our balance so we doubt ourselves and just tip over since we have no momentum.

So how in the world can someone who is new at something spooky like this do something more frightening and be better at it at the same time?  There are several answers to this pertaining to mountain biking.  First, RIDE as much as you can WITH PEOPLE BETTER THAN  YOU so it proves to you that what you are attempting to do is easily achievable(big gap jumps are not in this conversation) like seeing good lines and carrying more speed down a  hill  to carry more momentum up the next hill.  It generally builds confidence and that builds a smoother safer rider.  Ride behind that good ride buddy but don’t tailgate or a race them but instead,  learn.  Give him or her a bit of room and look well down the trail through them putting them in your peripheral vision.  Your noggin and thus your body do much better dealing with the terrain with as much advance notice as possible.  Second, SPEED IS YOUR FRIEND and your brakes usually are what get you in trouble the fastest.  It is VERY rare to see or hear of a rider crashing going in a straight line unless they are blind or going so slow that the gyroscopic effect of their cranks and wheels is lost and they simply tip over.  So if you have poor vision, wear some contacts or glasses.  It makes so much of a difference with my riding that my ride buddies have asked if I have my contacts in and in some cases ask if I forgot them.  They can tell that much of a difference and I have 20/30 uncorrected!  While rare to have wrecks in a straight line, they most often happen on curves and 8 out of 10 are due to your left finger(s).  Simply put, BRAKE BEFORE THE TURN and NEVER USE YOUR FRONT BRAKE IN A TURN ever again.  That simple.  Use one finger on each brake and the rear one gets most of the use.  One index finger usually allows you to use the brakes more gently to “feather” them.  My rear pads wear out quicker than the front ones but we all know the front ones stop the fastest.  Most of the time when you flip over the handlebars it is when your front wheel drops in a shallow hole you missed seeing when you were not paying attention.   The surprise makes us briefly panic and grab some front brake and “bam” over we go as the hole and slow speed we were riding at created  a unstable rider with his or her weight too far over the handlebars.

I sincerely hope this helps you ride better and it goes without saying, overfilled tires are a surefire way to bounce your way          to a crash too.  Keep the pressure low.
Happy Halloween,
Jim Frith