• Hannah Clarke

10 mountain bike tips to prepare you for the haughton Giant Challenge

Whether this will be the first bike challenge you have embarked on, or you happen to be a professional athlete who has tried and tested a number of different challenges, Our Giant Cycle Challenge can be tailored to you.


Regardless of your level of fitness, these tips are to help anyone prepare in good time. We will look at gear, equipment and skills to maximise safety and performance to help you do the best you can do whilst enjoying the gorgeous Staffordshire countryside and having lots of fun.


As you may know, The Haughton Giant Challenge is not a race but can provide you with the tools to monitor your performance during your chosen route. (see our blog "Giant challenge 2020", it has info on our new tracking system) We want as many people as possible to get involved with this amazing event and to help us contribute to our partner charities.


TOP MTB TIPS


1. Gears


Your gears are usually located on the rear wheel of your bike. Gears are controlled by rings or switches on the handlebars. From time to time gears can slip and can cause an issue with the derailleur (the mechanism that controls the chain and gears) this problem may occur because of a problem with the cable tension. Test your bike to see if your gears are aligned correctly. If they are not, it will compromise your bikes precision. If you need some help, Check this video out on how to re-align inaccurate gears. https://youtu.be/Bbk5RcH0bbQ


2. Pedals


Most bikes are manufactured with standard plastic pedals, these are fine of course, but if prefer to have better grip and have extra help with your balance when on a multitude of terrain, we recommend you have at least a metal "clip less" pedal to enable you those benefits. You will find they will be more weather resistant and will last longer too. Clip on pedals are great as well, they allow you the ability to push round the first half of the pedal using your quads and lift up using your hamstrings, this helps with efficiency and power output.

I have recently purchased some clip on pedals from www.Tredz.co.uk and after buying a bike for my son recently too, their service and quality of products have impressed me.


3. Saddle and Seating Height.


If you are not happy with the way your saddle is treating your posterior, then there are many options to fix that problem. For men, they tend to go for a slender saddle which allows movement and flexibility (so to speak), For women, (and i'm not speaking for us all here as everyone is individual and there is no right or wrong saddle for whatever gender you may be) however, saddles specifically designed for women, tend to be wider and softer. I personally prefer a wider saddle for comfort and to ensure not too much pressure is put on my front end. Just as long as YOU and your posterior are comfortable, then go for it!


Seating height. I see lots of people ride their bikes with their knees practically hitting them in the face. It must be so hard to ride a bike like that, not to mention exhausting, as well as putting yourself at risk of injury.

Make sure that when you are sat on your saddle, you are tip toeing off the ground. When you ride, your legs need to stretch out fully (six o'clock position and your knee straight) when you are pushing down on your pedal. If you lose contact with the pedal, you will need to lower your seat.

Having your seat at the right height will enable you to ride longer and push harder but also to prevent injury. - compression injury from having the seat too low and over stretching from having it too high.


4. Tires



Before hitting the trails, check your tire pressure. If your tire pressure is too high the wheels can bounce off the ground, causing a potential safety risk, if they are too low, it could cause a flat tire or even damage your rims. Check it before you wreck it!


5. Handlebars


To ensure you are not exerting too much energy reaching up or leaning down, it is important to adjust them to your own height. Here you can view a tutorial on how to adjust it correctly. https://youtu.be/ssxHTyWVf7g


6. The Chain


If you haven't used your bike for a while, check your chain. Most standard bike chains will corrode over time unless you keep it lubricated (which will ultimately increase its life span and optimises its function as well)


7.Clothing


Whilst Cycling specific clothing isn't necessary for our Giant Challenges, we are happy if you come along in some old joggers and a t-shirt, ( Giant Challenge T-shirt that is 😉 ) After having done the challenges ourselves, we recommend a few things that may help.

* A secure fitting helmet

* Padded shorts/trousers

* Weatherproof and breathable garments made from durable man made fabrics. ie Nylon, spandex.

* Bike gloves, finger-less or otherwise (I personally prefer finger-less so i can grab hold of snacks and drinks easier on route haha)

* knee pads are a good call - if required.

* If the weather is cold or raining, outwear with a good lightweight, water and windproof jacket will help you glide through the elements with a smile on your face.


8. Equipment


Here is a list of things we think are essential when out on your bike. When you sign up to one of our Giant challenges, we will always have an emergency contact number for you and you have the reassurance that you have marshals all over the routes guiding you and with supplies to help along the way and any first aid or recovery required at any point, however, any self help equipment you bring may be invaluable to you on your journey.


*Water bottle

*Protein bars (although snacks will be provided at half way point)

*Collapsible/lightweight waterproof backpack

*First aid kit

*Spare inner tubes

*Chain lube

*Portable phone charger

*Flashlight/lights on your bike

*Sunscreen

*Tire pump

*GPS (usually available on your mobile phone)

*Multi purpose tool for minor repairs.


9. Practice Riding Uphill


Use a low gear, and increase the speed of your peddling. If you lean forward into your handlebars and move up your saddle a bit (but still sitting down) You weight will be focused on the front wheel in order to stabilise the bike better and gives more traction needed for steep ascent.


10. Practice Riding Downhill


When riding down hill, use a higher gear. Decrease your peddling or stop completely. Keep your elbows bent and body loose but keep a tight grip on the handlebars. You can stand over the saddle but make sure you don't buckle your knees, and position your feet so the front pedal is higher that the back ready to peddle when needed. You wont need to steer as heavily when going down hill , use your upper body to move left or right and the bike will respond accordingly. Give it a go!


Bonus Tips


If you are just starting out and want to get a bit fitter or get used to a few different trails before doing the Giant Challenge, try a few beginner trails in your local area, there are many across the country and with intermediate and advanced levels one you are ready. Our shortest challenge is 20k. I started out at 5k, then 10k and built my way up to 20k. My Dad Brother and sister in law were already doing 35/40k at that point but I was happy that I achieved my 5k when I first went out on my bike and I look forward to building my fitness level up in my own way.

Go, have fun and do whatever your body can do. No pressure.















Ready to Rock and Roll!








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