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Mountain Biking: How to Overcome MTB Trail Obstacles

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Whether in life or in mountain biking, we find obstacles in our way more often that we want. Tackling obstacles in life is a different ball game together, but thankfully, the hurdles and obstacles we encounter while biking in the mountains can be dealt with more easily. It is vital for any mountain biker to know the basics of passing over an obstacle. This is because every obstacle you come across in your trail doesn’t require you to get off the bike. Let us see how to successfully get past MTB trail obstacles without getting off the bike every time.

Clearing the Mental Block on MTB Obstacles

It is important to tackle MTB trail obstacles because if you have to get down from your bike every time you face an obstacle, the thrill of the ride will vanish. Whether it is a gap jump, a bridge, or simply a big boulder, if you don’t know how to get past it, your mountain biking session may not be any fun at all. Moreover, if you do not know the technique of getting past an obstacle, you might end up developing a fear of that particular obstacle. This is why it is important for you to practice getting past MTB trail obstacles in your practice sessions.

Before learning the real technique of lifting your bike and hopping past the obstacles, a few points must be kept in mind:

  • Understand the Obstacle

Before you attempt any question, you have to understand what the question is all about. Similarly, you should know the different types of MTB trail obstacles that lie ahead of you. Is it a particular corner in the trail that you cannot ride past? Is it a sharp jump or drop? 

  • Get in Control of Your Emotions

Understand the emotions it stirs in your heart. Are you afraid of that obstacle? Are you unsure of getting through it? Have you been previously hurt while trying to get past that obstacle? If so, you will have to constantly remind yourself that you can make it through that obstacle this time.

  • Practice Makes Perfect

Remember this adage when you are learning how to get past MTB trail obstacles. It takes a lot of patience and practice to get the technique right. The more you practice, the more you learn. There are no shortcuts to anything; hence, you must make up your mind to not give up if you are not able to overcome trail obstacles in the first few attempts.

mtb trail obstacles
Push your limits and practice for MTB trail

Making Your Own Backyard MTB Trail

Once your mental frame is ready to learn this exciting technique, you should devote some time to create your very own backyard MTB trail. With a little bit of research, you will understand the basics of building mountain bike obstacles. Once you are ready with this step, there is no looking back. Now, it's the perfect time to conquer the MTB trail obstacles.

backyard mtb trail
Practice in your backyard MTB trail

Step by Step Guide to Overcome MTB Trail Obstacles

Whether you are practicing in a backyard mountain bike obstacles trail or you are out there in the real mountains, the basic step is the same. The essence of hopping past an obstacle is to be able to lift your front wheel by shifting your weight. All mountain bike obstacle plans work on this principle. Let us now look at the finer details of this technique.

1. Get Control of the Front Wheel and Lift it

While this is the obvious first step when trying to clear MTB trail obstacles, it is not as easy as it seems. It requires not only regular practice, but it comprises of few very subtle steps that should always be kept in mind. An excellent way to learn to do this is to locate a nearby backyard mountain bike park in your area and see if you can find mountain bike wooden obstacles that match your target.

2. Power Stroke the Pedals

The first thing you need to do before hopping across the obstacle is to generate power to do so. This is done by power stroking the pedals. Bring your dominant foot in the 2 O'clock position while pedalling and then suddenly push down. This will make your bike jump up.

power stroke the pedals
Power Stroke for the perfect jump (source)

3. Rely on the Rear Brake

If you feel that the sudden jerk of the bike is too much for you to handle, immediately press the rear brake and bring back the bike on the ground. This will give you the feeling of being in control.

4. Control Your Body Position

Your body positioning matters a lot when you are attempting such a hop. It is advisable to keep your arms straight, but with a slight bend at the elbows. This position is most conducive for spreading the body weight well.

body position before the hop
Check your body position

5. Work on the Rear Wheel

Once the front wheel is well set for the hop across the MTB trail obstacles, it turns for the rear wheel to do its part. This can be done in either of the following ways:

6. Get Rid of the Weight on the Rear Wheel

After having mastered the handling of the front wheel, you should practice unloading the rear wheel. This can be easily done by crouching forward with your hips off the saddle and bending your knees. Gradually bring your body forward and lean towards the handle. This will take the weight off the rear wheel and leave it in perfect position to complete the hop off the obstacle.

7. Claw your Legs to Lift the Rear Wheel

There is another very effective way to work around the rear wheel. Using your feet as claws, try to lift the rear side of the bike upward as you pedal. For this, your heels should be upwards and toes should face downwards, and the alignment should be in a straight vertical line. 

Final Tips Before You Set Off

The technical part about hopping over MTB trail obstacles needs the practice to master. At the same time, there are few subtle points to be remembered. These will surely make it easier for you to gain more control over your bike and hop your bike over the obstacles.

  • Don’t use the front brake. Since the front wheel is the first point of maneuvering, it is advisable not to halt it when in motion.
  • The body has to be leaned forward in order to make the rear end of the bike light. You will not be able to hop up if your body is positioned in any way that your hips provide weight on the rear wheel.
  • Adjusting the height of the seat is a tool that can help you during uphill and downhill biking.

Wrapping Up

So, that pretty much sums it all up. With regular practice, you will be able to conquer MTB trail obstacles with finesse. Remember to play around with the brakes during different parts of the trail. Also, have a good look at the trail ahead before attempting a hop. You might even want to take a course on how to make a mountain bike trail in your backyard or sign up for a how to build a mountain bike skills course in order to brush up your basics. Keeping all these things in mind will surely prepare you for overcoming those obstacles that have deterred you so far. 

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