Mountain Bike Reviews Forum banner
1 - 13 of 13 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
153 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
This is my first post and I would really appreciate advice. I have a 2002 trek 4300 that I have ridden sporadically since I got it new a few years ago. I am female, 5'10" and pretty large build. The trail I usually ride on has some pretty steep hills, roots, rocks, etc. I'm wondering if some issues are just my technique, or might be helped by a new bike, maybe FS?
1) Trouble making it up hills. The front end of my bike seems kind of heavy and if there are roots, etc that often stop me. When I try to put more power into it sometimes my back wheel spins out.
2) Downhills kinda scary. If the track is narrow and there is a steep drop off its kind of creepy. I especially hate it when it seems I'm bouncing around and so I use my brakes A LOT.
3) Front shifting very rough. Doesn't always move to the next higher ring when it should. Shifts back down well, and back shifting pretty good.
4) Upper back stiffness/pain. I am prone to this anyway and am sometimes sore after work. Anything I can do to minimize stress on upper back....don't want to become hunchbacked.
Thanks for any advice. Sorry so long!
 

·
Don't worry, be happy!
Joined
·
8,141 Posts
beegirl said:
This is my first post and I would really appreciate advice. I have a 2002 trek 4300 that I have ridden sporadically since I got it new a few years ago. I am female, 5'10" and pretty large build. The trail I usually ride on has some pretty steep hills, roots, rocks, etc. I'm wondering if some issues are just my technique, or might be helped by a new bike, maybe FS?
1) Trouble making it up hills. The front end of my bike seems kind of heavy and if there are roots, etc that often stop me. When I try to put more power into it sometimes my back wheel spins out.
2) Downhills kinda scary. If the track is narrow and there is a steep drop off its kind of creepy. I especially hate it when it seems I'm bouncing around and so I use my brakes A LOT.
3) Front shifting very rough. Doesn't always move to the next higher ring when it should. Shifts back down well, and back shifting pretty good.
4) Upper back stiffness/pain. I am prone to this anyway and am sometimes sore after work. Anything I can do to minimize stress on upper back....don't want to become hunchbacked.
Thanks for any advice. Sorry so long!
Hi Beegirl and welcom

Have you had your bike professionally fitted? That can make a huge difference (IMO) for climbing and the back pain. Something as simple as a different length stem can change a lot.

Climbing... check my tips page here
http://www.specialtyoutdoors.com/penny/biking/ridetips.asp for techique tips for climbing. I used to feel like my front end was loose and washing out - it was a wrong size frame for me.

Downhills... again, technique is your friend. Make sure you are out of the saddle, feet at 3 and 9, balanced on your hands and feet, letting your body work with the bike. Practice moving around on your bike, and getting your weight behind the saddle. As your technique improves, and you get more comfortable, you can relax your death grip on the brakes. Some where recently we had a thread with some ideas for more skills to practice for decending.

shifting... sounds like a front dereailler adjustment. Take your bike to a good shop and have them fiddle with it. Or, get yourself a copy of Zinn and Mountainbike Maintenance and do it yourself... if you are a bit handy and can follow directions, it's pretty simple.

welcome and keep us posted on your progress.

formica
 

·
consistent default champ
Joined
·
747 Posts
Pick lines?

Do you practice picking a line that gets you through the roots, rocks, etc? Esp on uphill climbs roots will stop me too.
I think one of the best tips I ever got was look where you want to go. If you are looking at that tree or whatever you are trying to avoid, it is supposed to make you more likely to hit it.
I haven't been biking that long either (just over a year). It is hard to let go of the brake sometimes on the downhill. like formica said, practice getting your weight back so you have better control.
Good luck
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
153 Posts
Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Wow, that is exactly the kind of advice I need. I think I need to worry less about my bike and more on my technique. I liked the part in the article about the front brake. I haven't touched mine in ages, I'm sure you can guess why.....ouch! My climbing technique is definitely all wrong too. I loved the details on hot to position on the bike. I do try to pick a line, but sometimes there is nowhere good when there is a lot of erosion around tree roots. I will read and reread this advice and practice. Thanks to you all!
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
153 Posts
Discussion Starter · #6 ·
update

Hi, I just realized I never answered that I am from Arkansas. I tried some adjustments to the front shifting and it didn't help much, then I adjusted my shifting technique and it helped a lot. I have been avoiding the difficult part of trail so that I don't get too discouraged. Is a "switchback" when you have a downhill with a tight turn before going back uphill? If so, then I now have a name for what I am terrible at. The other thing is going downhill where the trail is bumpy and narrow and there is a steep hill or dropoff on one side. Is there a name for that as well? I'm starting to save up for a full suspension bike. It will be a while, but I have been looking at bikes like the Trek Fuel. Is this the right style, I don't want something too heavy. Thanks!
 

·
Don't worry, be happy!
Joined
·
8,141 Posts
beegirl said:
Hi, I just realized I never answered that I am from Arkansas. I tried some adjustments to the front shifting and it didn't help much, then I adjusted my shifting technique and it helped a lot. I have been avoiding the difficult part of trail so that I don't get too discouraged. Is a "switchback" when you have a downhill with a tight turn before going back uphill? If so, then I now have a name for what I am terrible at. The other thing is going downhill where the trail is bumpy and narrow and there is a steep hill or dropoff on one side. Is there a name for that as well? I'm starting to save up for a full suspension bike. It will be a while, but I have been looking at bikes like the Trek Fuel. Is this the right style, I don't want something too heavy. Thanks!
a switchback is a turn shaped like U or a V... most of us suck at them, so don't be discouraged. The tighter the turn, the more difficult it is. Switchback is definately an skill you have to learn.

When you have a drop off to one side, picking a line and looking where you WANT to go is critical. Look ahead, down the trail and not off the cliff. There's a mental thing called target acquisition, which means your body goes where you look.

Trek fuels are a nice bike, try a lot of them if you can. Yes, it's confusing but ultimately the fit it the most critical part. Lots of thread on bike shopping around here.

formica
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
192 Posts
beegirl said:
Hi, I just realized I never answered that I am from Arkansas. I tried some adjustments to the front shifting and it didn't help much, then I adjusted my shifting technique and it helped a lot. I have been avoiding the difficult part of trail so that I don't get too discouraged. Is a "switchback" when you have a downhill with a tight turn before going back uphill? If so, then I now have a name for what I am terrible at. The other thing is going downhill where the trail is bumpy and narrow and there is a steep hill or dropoff on one side. Is there a name for that as well? I'm starting to save up for a full suspension bike. It will be a while, but I have been looking at bikes like the Trek Fuel. Is this the right style, I don't want something too heavy. Thanks!
What you're describing sounds more like a "whoop-de-do" or ravine than a switchback. Except that by definition whoop-de-do's are usually fun and relatively easy. Ravines can be difficult.

A "switchback" is more like a sharp turn as you are either climbing or descending a steep hill. Think of it like a mountain road hairpin turn. Generally, if you're descending and come to a switchback, you are still descending after completing the switchback - same goes for ascending.

I found the key to the ravines is to go slow at the top and line up for your go at it. Then as you're starting to descend it, let off the brakes and let the bike roll through picking up speed on the way down - weight back of course - to give you as much momentum as possible so that you may only need a few pedal strokes if any to top out on the other side. Also, knowing and being in the correct gear for the climb out of the ravine is a key to successfully negotiating it. This just takes a lot of practice. But once you get it, you've got it.

The drop off you describe is usually referred to as "exposure". You're riding next to an exposed edge. Those can be freaky even for experienced riders. One of the keys to this and many other riding situations is "look where you want to go". Don't look at the things you are afraid of or don't want to hit. Glance at them so you have a mental note of where they are, but don't focus on them or you WILL hit them.

I would recommend a couple of things to help you improve your skills. One - ride with other better riders as often as you can. You won't believe how much you'll learn watching them negotiate the hard stuff. Two - go to Borders or Barnes and Noble and pick up a copy of Mountain Bike Magazine's "Complete Guide to Mountain Biking Skills". There's advice in there for everyone from rank beginner to seasoned rider.

A Trek Fuel would probably be a great trail bike for you as long as it fits you correctly. Compared to your 4300 you'll think you're in a Cadillac!

Good luck and don't give up!

Lori
 

·
Bike to the Bone...
Joined
·
8,290 Posts
formica said:
Hi Beegirl and welcom

Have you had your bike professionally fitted? That can make a huge difference (IMO) for climbing and the back pain. Something as simple as a different length stem can change a lot.

Climbing... check my tips page here
http://www.specialtyoutdoors.com/penny/biking/ridetips.asp for techique tips for climbing. I used to feel like my front end was loose and washing out - it was a wrong size frame for me.

Downhills... again, technique is your friend. Make sure you are out of the saddle, feet at 3 and 9, balanced on your hands and feet, letting your body work with the bike. Practice moving around on your bike, and getting your weight behind the saddle. As your technique improves, and you get more comfortable, you can relax your death grip on the brakes. Some where recently we had a thread with some ideas for more skills to practice for decending.

shifting... sounds like a front dereailler adjustment. Take your bike to a good shop and have them fiddle with it. Or, get yourself a copy of Zinn and Mountainbike Maintenance and do it yourself... if you are a bit handy and can follow directions, it's pretty simple.

welcome and keep us posted on your progress.

formica
Agree with it. When going downhill and going through some steps, be carefull on the front brake. Other than that, using both brakes at the same time is a safe measure (make sure your shifting your weight backwards).
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
233 Posts
Formica's tips will really help alot, but here's a few more to turn you into a real climbing monkey.

Her article mentioned getting farther up on the seat, but said something about it hitting you in the butt - but I'd assume this is just when standing. For me, it's more that my crotch is centered over the nose of the saddle. Sounds really uncomfortable, but you're not really resting there, you're leveraging yourself.

One of the easiest and most important things you can do to help on a climb is to rotate your wrists down. Just a small adjustment in your wrists, rolling them down, puts your entire upper body in better position for climbing - getting your chest down, your back rolled over, etc. I ignored my husband when he first gave me this tip, thinking something so small couldn't really help all that much. D'oh!. Not smart.

Formica's fabulous article also mentioned spinning versus mashing. There's nothing more debilitating than mashing or standing up a long climb. Mashing and standing are for short steep, and short technical climbs when you need to get your body up as far as possible and power up a short climb. For sustained climbing you spin. There's ABSOLUTELY nothing wrong with the granny gear. It's your friend as you're building the stamina for long climbs.

And last of all...enjoy those climbs. Each time you ride farther before walking. Each time you shave ten seconds off your climb time you should be sporting a big old smile underneath the sweat!
 

·
Don't worry, be happy!
Joined
·
8,141 Posts
Actually, when I refer to the seat poking you in the butt, that is not for a standing climb... it's just a really far forward position to get you up the worst parts. Definately not a position you'd want to stay in for a long haul. Maybe I need to clarify that. ???
The thing is, there are a lot of variations on how to approach these things. No techiques are really written in stone.. they are just tricks to have in your bag of trail techniques.What works on one climb may not work so well on another, due to variations in the trail and what you had for breakfast... :)

keep at it!!

formica
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
233 Posts
You're right, Penny. It is different for each person. And all the factors you mentioned weigh in, along with others. Your body style (I'm all torso, short of leg), you're fitness level, and I guess we should mention the darned trails themselves!

There are of course other shifts/adjustments to make when climbing on gravel, sand, mud (heaven forbid...but sometimes a trail looks great at the start and you find you're in some yuck before you know it) lots of roots, etc. So your article is even more useful because it gives folks the basics that they can then adjust to their specific needs.

Wasn't trying to detract from your article, I think it's a fantastic resource. Just wanted to throw in the wrist rolling, especially, as it's another really easy way to help body positioning for climbing.

Now...off to the bike.

Ciao
 

·
Don't worry, be happy!
Joined
·
8,141 Posts
I'm always looking for ways to improve what I'm trying to communicate. :)

Just this weekend I was out with someone and she was really good on some of the short steep loose climbs. She pointed out the difference between "attacking" and "pacing" the climb. Point being, there is always something new to learn, always.

Funny, I never think about my hands now. I used to on my old bike, had climbing bars installed etc..

onwards...
 
1 - 13 of 13 Posts
This is an older thread, you may not receive a response, and could be reviving an old thread. Please consider creating a new thread.
Top