Thursday, September 16, 2010

10 Mountain Biking Tips to Ride Rock Gardens With Confidence

By Mary Blomquist

When encountering a rock garden, it can be intimidating for many of us and we may resort to hiking our bikes through the rocks. With the following tips and some practice, however, riding rock gardens can be a very fun, adrenaline boosting experience that improves your confidence and mountain biking abilities.

1. Trust your bike: Your mountain bike suspension is made to handle rough terrain. The shocks and other components are built to absorb bumps and hits.

2. Find the best line: Before riding the rock garden, get off your bike and roll it through the rock garden to determine a good line, but if you deviate from the line when you are riding, keep motoring through.

3. Keep your momentum through the rocks. If you can not do full pedal strokes because of obstacles, move your pedals in a ratcheting motion to keep moving. If you get off course and are not on your line anymore, keep going. Follow where your bike takes you. Avoid forcing sudden changes in direction.

4. Maintain a medium speed when approaching the rocks. This can be scary because it feels like you are going to fly over the handlebars when you hit the rocks, but this is more likely to happen if you are going too slow.

5. Keep your arms and legs bent to absorb bumps and hits. Stay back on your seat so you do not go over the handlebars. Get way back and drop your seatpost a few inches if you are going downhill.

6. Focus on where you want to go and not on the rocks that are right in front of you or the ones you are trying to avoid. Look at the trail several feet ahead of you.

7. Avoid granny gear: If possible, have your gear in either the smallest front chain ring combined with a midrange rear sprocket or the middle front chain ring combined with the small rear sprocket. This makes it easier to power through obstacles.

8. Push your handlebars forward with your arms to get over rocks when necessary.

9. Chill out! It is natural to feel some anxiety when approaching technical sections. Try to stay loose, but strong with a firm grip on the handlebars so that you have control. If you are rigid with fear and unable to relax, you will crash and it is best to try the challenge another day or start with something less intimidating.

10. Strength and balance are very important for mountain biking over obstacles. Weight lifting and cross training will help increase strength to power over rocks and other obstacles. Practicing the trackstand and other exercises will help to improve balance.

If you are a beginner, do not go crazy and start with the extreme terrain right away. Start small and work your way up as you gain more confidence. You may want to start with what are commonly referred to as "baby-head rocks." These are the rocks that are around the size and shape of a toddler's head. Once you are comfortable with these, try more difficult terrain.

For more skill builders on improving balance and technique on your mountain bike, please visit

Mary Blomquist is a mountain biking enthusiast who lives in Colorado and is the founder of, a site that is full of information and tips for mountain bikers.



Post a Comment