In this training spotlight we head to Victoria, B.C., Canada to launch a new series - mountain bike skills for beginners – with three-time XTERRA World Champion Melanie McQuaid.
“This series is for beginners, to introduce a set of skills and maneuvers that can take their mountain biking to the next level,” said McQuaid, an XTERRA Coach and the founder of MelRad Multisport. “Mountain biking is all about applying skills to control your bike better. When you have more control you have more confidence, which means you can ride faster.”
In the first video McQuaid, who is certified by the Professional Mountain Bike Instructors Association, talks about the characteristics and benefits of the neutral and ready positions on the bike.
“In the neutral position we stand tall and relaxed with pedals level. It’s how we give our bodies a break,” she explains. “The ready position, on the other hand, is an aggressive and energetic position that enables maneuvers and requires a lot of energy. When we ride, we cycle between the neutral and ready positions.”
The key to an effective ready position, explains McQuaid, is to keep your body centered and let the bike and the suspension do all the work.
“Only way to get better is to practice,” she added. “Find an easy place to ride, like a flat grass field, and make it as simple as possible. Keep an open mind, be patient, and learn how to get your body to adopt these shapes at your own pace.”
McQuaid goes on to explain how mountain bikes have evolved through the years, and with all those updates riding styles changed as well.
“As racers of the 90s the way we learned was just by trying not to get dropped,” laughed McQuaid. “That’s not best practice anymore.”