DUSTY FEET MTB

Dusty Feet believe in living a healthy lifestyle, while also having some fun, and mountain biking fits right into with this ethos. We offer MTB Training clinics to all ages, from adult novices to kids just starting out. Get the basics right first, and you'll love the sport that much more and wipe out that much less in the beginning. 
We partnered up with one of the local Primary Schools and have constructed our training track here. The children build confidence on the track, then we ease into the trails.

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We will once again have various options for our Junior MTB Training. We are excited to use our newly constructed training trails and track at Die Plaaskombuis, Hemel & Aarde. All skills clinics will be held in the area surrounding Die Plaaskombuis, giving parents the options of enjoying a meal or some coffee at the restaurant while we train. 
Skills Clinics will be available in two different age groups, with 9/10yrs & 11+yrs running separate time slots.

Trail Training will take place on the Green and Blue routes, while the Trail Challenge, for the experienced riders, will be taking on the more challenging Red and Black routes. Starting from Die Plaaskombuis also gives us a nice option of doing the top end of some of the trails which we would usually not access. 
 
Riders who take part in the MTB Training must have a wheel size of at least 24", have functioning gears and brakes, a water bottle rack or other form of hydration and of course a helmet. 
Recently we have also started doing training rides in the Elgin area, and look forward to a relationship with Paul Cluver Wine Farm, where we will be able to host clinics and training rides on their trails. 

MTB Basics we teach

Growing up we used our bikes nearly every day. From riding over to a friend’s house, to the beach to look at the surf, just riding around in the sort of “Biker Mice” groups (we’re of similar age if you get the reference), to trying to do what I now deem to be stupid things like trying jumps and riding down hills and dunes, we learnt where our limits lie and what are capabilities are the hard way, but possibly the slow and more sensible way. We had to come up with our own stupid ideas....these days kids are getting even more stupid ideas through social media and film. In a way I am relieved that I am not a kid now, as I am sure I would have by now broken way more bones!  I can’t remember when it was when I decided I no longer need to have “fear” present in an activity to enjoy it, but I no longer push the limits and rather opt for enjoyment over pure adrenaline.
In my opinion kids have a false sense of their own limits and capability. From being praised with the “Nice try” and “Good job” for mediocre efforts kids are often lead to believe that they are better at something than they actually are and in some cases this might be dangerous.
When I start a mtb program, a few sessions is spent on the very basics of the sport. I know all the kids who come to me can ride a bike – but can they do it right?  “Ja coach, but I’ve done like events and stuff,” – good for you buddy, you rode 10km on a jeep track with other kids, received a medal and your mom and dad posted some cool photos of you on Facebook. I watch those same kids fall the moment I put their bikes through a bumpy section and snigger…
As with any activity, getting the basics right and the practice and repetition of these basics are key to becoming a better and more confident rider.  

 

The program I run with Dusty Feet starts off with the basics of mountain biking. I assume that all the riders can ride their bike in the street, but now we start adding obstacles and everything changes.
With a course I’ve designed and constructed, we start and practice the very basic skills before heading to the trails. The design and build of these obstacles can be found on YouTube - https://youtu.be/-bxt-vF4oP0 and https://youtu.be/EfmHgUuESs4

The basics we concentrate on and try to instill can be sort of summarised below. I find myself continually repeating some of these aspects over and over again, like a broken record, until it becomes second nature.

Maintain momentum

  • Momentum (and sometimes speed) is your friend – a concept which is sometimes a little hard to grasp, but momentum and the right amount of speed will carry you over obstacles; slowing down and losing momentum usually ends with you on the ground

  • Ready to peddle – in order to maintain momentum you often have to give a peddle or two mid obstacle – be ready for this

  • Anticipate gear changes – change at the right time in order to not lose momentum; changing once you are already near stationary will not work; drop or lift your chainring (front) for a faster and bigger change in gear if needed

Body Position

  • Stay loose – be ready to move your arms and legs, with bends in your limbs

  • Butt off your saddle – your bike will throw you off like a bucking horse if you sit down and your back wheel hits an obstacle; lift that bum and hover it above your saddle

  • Level your peddles – both peddles need to be the same heights; if one is down and one up your balance will be off and you run the risk of the lower peddle hitting an obstacle which might result in a crash or damage to your bike

  • Limbs as shock absorbers – with your elbows and knees bent, use your limbs to absorb the knocks your bike is taking; if you do this right your upper body should not move too much and you should maintain control of your bike throughout

  • Shift your weight – you can move your centre of gravity by repositioning your hips above your saddle; toward the front if you are climbing; toward the back if you are hitting obstacles – usually putting your weight on your heels, so rolling back on your peddles a bit (the most important one); dropping your seat helps with this, but as we are working with kids and basic bikes, this isn’t usually an option and not entirely necessary

  • Shift your bike, not your body – a harder concept to teach, but sometimes berms and other obstacles will require you to move you bike at an angle your body can’t go; bent knees and the use of the arms is key here shifting the bike from side to side while maintaining an upright body position

 

Braking

  • Brake ready – Keep your index fingers on your brakes in order to control your speed without locking up a wheel; most kids still have V-Brakes which aren’t as responsive as the disc brakes, but it is a skill they will need to learn

  • Use both brakes – while using the front brake is initially not encouraged, it is still a skills they might need later; pulling both together and not locking up on either wheel will make for fast and effective stopping; lock you front wheel and you will bleed; ; “feathering” both brakes (light pulling and releasing to control the speed) effectively is a very important skill for controlling momentum especially downhill

  • Rear wheel lock up – something which the boys always enjoy, and with some practice this can become a good skill to have; while sliding a back wheel isn’t always an efficient way to stop, it will slow you down; sliding your back wheel can aid in changing direction if done right and anticipated

  • Small touch braking – small touches on your brakes instead of big pulls means you can control your speed throughout a run; stay comfortable while maintaining momentum

  • Braking in a turn – some trials will request you limit braking in turns and berms to save the trail, but sometimes it is necessary; avoid front brake when in a turn as the increase in traction on the wheel might cause it to slide; touches on the brakes instead of locking up is usually best, although doing a controlled slide of your back wheel could aid in a turn

 

General riding

  • Stay comfortable – whether on your saddle or standing

  • Look ahead – watch the trail coming up ahead of you in order to adjust and anticipate what is coming

  • “Target Fixation” is real – if you concentrate too hard on not hitting that one tree or rock, chances are you’ll hit it; look ahead and beyond your obstacles

  • Following distance – if you are following someone through a single track, make sure you are not adding pressure on them; I’ve had some of my biggest falls when someone better and faster than me is riding behind me; leave a big enough gap to learn from the other’s mistakes and to be able to react in case of a wipe-out; for my beginners I always ask for a 5-10 second gap as they drop into the trails

  • Pick the right gears – this comes with time on your bike; being comfortable on your bike and getting your optimum gear ratio and work rate throughout climbing and downhill is a personal preference and will also change from one bike to the next; stay aware of what gear you are in be ready to change if needed; sometime changing you chainring (front) is a fast and easy solution for a big change; traveling downhill you want to be on one of the bigger chainrings which might stop you chain from falling off

  • Water  - always have water; either a hydration pack or in bottles on the bike; if you are lucky enough to cycle in areas where you can refill you bottle along the way, use the opportunity to do so

  • Nutrition – you are likely burning more calories than you realise and stopping for something small to eat along your ride is important; as I am not one to watch my weight I like to have some sweet treats for the sugar, but nuts, biltong, droëwors and other sort of “trail mix” type snacks are perfect for the social ride

  • Trail etiquette – pay your trail fees!; stick to the routes set out, they are direction specific and much time and effort has been put into their design and layout; don’t litter

  • Be mindful – of other riders or trail users; don’t stop in blind areas where you could be in the way of another faster rider; pull over if someone behind you is faster on a trail