Express Train with Chris Carmichael

Crash Course

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WITH THE GROUND finally drying out from winter snows and spring rains, your local singletrack beckons. But after a few months out of the saddle, your mountain-bike skills—assuming you had any—might be rusty. Here are a few tips for having fun on the trails and emerging from the woods in one piece.

»Overgear Through Rocks
On rough trails, speed and momentum are your friends; slow down and your front wheel is more likely to stop against a rock and buck you off. Bigger gears keep you moving forward and allow you to pedal while standing up, for better balance.

»Undergear on Smooth Climbs
As the trail winds up gradual inclines, shift into easier gears to save your legs for the all-out efforts necessary for steeper climbs later in the ride. Saving this energy will also help preserve your coordination, which reduces your risk of crashing.

»Roll the Right Rubber
Riding on the wrong tires feels like dancing on marbles. For loose, sandy terrain like we have around Colorado Springs, big tires (26×2–2.3 inches) are key. In wet regions, you’ll want widely spaced knobs, to shed mud. For hardpack, go with semi-slick tires with tiny knobs in the center for lower rolling resistance and bigger ones along the sides for cornering.

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