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Guest Feature: How To Enjoy Mountain Biking More This Summer

By Peter Glassford, R.Kin ChPC

With the shortage of available bikes for purchase, it's clear that more people have decided to rekindle or start cycling more during this pandemic. An article on cycling seemed like a good idea and I don't think there is anyone better in the area to deliver some tips than Peter Glassford. I've known Peter for a few years through coaching at Active Life and also just recently had a fantastic mountain bike session with him. His ability to analyze and simplify concepts to make them work for you are exceptional along with his professionalism. Please enjoy this fantastic contribution from Peter Glassford!

How To Enjoy Mountain Biking More This Summer

Many people started cycling or re-discovered their love of cycling over the last year and while you never forget how to ride a bike, it is a different matter to cycle skillfully. Feeling safe, fast, smooth or even stylish are goals that clients have when they pursue coaching for bike skills—and those feelings translate to a more enjoyable riding experience.

I wanted to share 5 concepts that you can look at this summer to improve your cycling:

1) Saddle Height - Your bike seat height helps you pedal efficiently, but many new

riders will set their seat low so they can stay on the seat and get both feet on the

ground. This is okay to start but work to edge your saddle up so that when you pedal your knee is almost straight at the bottom of the pedal stroke. Low seat height is often the cause of quad and front of knee pain so finding the appropriate saddle height can help avoid injury!

2) Getting Started (and Stopped) - With your seat height set properly, the seat will seem quite high when you are getting stopped and started. Practice sitting in front of your saddle on the top tube of the bike. To get going, put one foot on the pedal and as you start to push down on the pedal, you can slide up onto the saddle. Practice starting and stopping in a grassy field so you are confident in this common movement and not nervous when you are riding at slower speeds (when many falls happen!).

3) Standing Up - It is very helpful to comfortably pedal while standing up to accelerate and climb and even just stand to take the pressure off your butt! Being comfortable standing also lets you be balanced riding over obstacles and things like curbs or speed bumps. It is easy to say but hard to do well, so practice often so you start to develop this athletic ability to use your body weight and your arms to help your legs pedal the bike.

4) Practice Braking - You likely did a driver’s training in high school to prepare yourself for emergency situations. Cycling is no different. The better you understand how your brakes work, the faster you can stop and the more comfortable you will be going fast! You can start walking your bike in a grassy field to get a feel for gradual and consistent braking with BOTH the front and rear brake together. Once you get the feel for braking with both brakes, try braking in that same grassy field to slow and also to come to a complete stop, the way you will at stop signs and trail-crossings.

5) Shifting - Gears help you go faster and conserve energy. Many riders do not shift well, so practicing in a grassy field to get a feel for which levers get you into an easier gear and which get you to a harder/faster gear is important and will make your ride much more enjoyable.

Those five concepts should keep you busy this summer! If you need help, or you’d like to hit the trails and do an in-person bike skills session, feel free to reach out or check out my website at


About the Author: Peter Glassford, R.Kin ChPC

Peter Glassford is a Registered Kinesiologist and a Chartered Professional Coach working predominantly with busy masters/adult endurance athletes and consulting on-bike skills, movement and training load for groups and clubs world-wide. Peter has competed in many cycling disciplines in addition to experience with team sports, running and triathlon personally and through clients during his 20+ years of coaching.

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