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SELECTED NICHE : ALL ABOUT MOUNTAIN BIKING

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    Mountain biking is an exciting sport that can be
    enjoyed by anyone who knows how to ride a bike.
    Compared to the average bike ride, it does present
    some danger. Therefore, you should master these
    basic skills before you hit the trails or the
    dirt.

    You can practice these beginning skills at a local
    park, school, bike path, or simply around your
    house. If you can, try to find a location with
    a steep hill.

    Get a feel for your pedals
    Practice moving your foot away from the pedal,
    first while sitting on your bike with one foot on
    the ground. Next, move on to releasing and
    replacing your foot while pedaling around for a
    bit. Those with toe clip and clipless type foot
    pedals will want to spend a bit more time
    practicing.

    Sit and spin for position
    Simply sit on your bike and pedal around. You
    should keep your arms slightly bent. You should
    also adjust your seat height so your leg is 70 to
    90 percent extended at the bottom of every stroke
    on the pedal. Keep your body relaxed, as there
    will never be a position where you should have
    either your knees or your elbows locked.

    Shifting gears
    Get a feel for shifting gears with your bike. The
    higher gears are harder to pedal and will go
    faster while the lower gears are easier to pedal
    and will help you ascend hills. As you get to
    steeper hills, its best to shift before you get
    to the hill rather than while your on it.

    Coasting
    You should spend a bit of time coasting while
    standing on your pedals, without actually sitting
    on the seat. Keep your arms bent but don't lock
    your knees. Now, try experimenting with shifting
    your body towards the rear end of the bike.

    Pedal while standing
    You should get as comfortable as you can with
    pedaling while standing on your bike. Try lifting
    yourself off the seat while standing on the pedals,
    then crank them around. You should try this in
    higher gears on flat ground then again in lower
    gears while on a hill.

    Dropping down a curb
    Try finding a curb where you can easily get to the
    upper portion of it. Practice at a moderate speed,
    standing and coasting right off the curb from the
    upper level to the lower level. Try this at
    different speeds until it becomes second nature.

    Once you practice these techniques and get the
    hang of them, you'll be able to hit the trails feeling
    comfortable on your mountain bike. Even though it
    may take some getting used to, it'll become second
    nature before you know it.

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