Use a BMX Track to Improve your MTB Skills

Techniques for riding mountain bikes.
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Use a BMX Track to Improve your MTB Skills

Postby wa_desert_rat » Mon Apr 15, 2013 9:33 am

BMX tracks, once found only in larger metropolitan areas, are no longer a rarity even in smaller towns The popularity of the sport has resulted in the formation of local clubs and municipal tracks. If you can get access to one nearby they are great for honing MTB skills.

Banked turns on DH trails are common but they're seldom as high as those on a BMX track... however "features" are often found on trails that are as high (or higher) than a BMX banked turn. You can use the BMX track to practice entry and exit strategies and techniques for both types so that when you are on an MTB downhill course you don't have to bypass that wall feature. :)

Jumps and landings are common for MTB riders and BMX tracks are actually designed for jumps. Watch the speed of entry other riders use and practice so that you can take the bumps on an MTB trail comfortably and safely. The first bump on the track after the starting downhill ramp is often the best to jump. Wear your helmet!

If you don't have a "pump track" you can use portions of most BMX tracks to practice this technique of moving yourself through bumps using your body to help keep your speed up. These tracks often have sections of smaller bumps that are ideal for pumping. Every kid knows how to pump on a swing to get higher without someone pushing; similar techniques work on bumps!

Watch the other riders and pay attention to how they handle jumps and steep-banked turns and the bumps. You can learn a lot from watching talented kids and it's a lot of fun. In particular you might watch to see how a good BMX rider controls the height of a jump. They know that going high costs time (and loses races) so they want to stay as low - and as fast - as possible. It's often the same for MTB where air time means no brakes and no turning.

Most tracks have rules for protective gear that may include open-face helmets and knee and elbow guards. Pay attention to those requirements so that you don't stand out as a rider who doesn't follow their rules. Everyone is used to riders practicing on specific portions of a track but when you do that make sure you're watching for riders who are coming through using the entire track. Ride safe and friendly. Sometimes you have to join a club or pay a fee. I'm lucky to have a nice BMX track less than a mile from my front door.

I wish they'd put in a pump track. :D

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Re: Use a BMX Track to Improve your MTB Skills

Postby blammo585 » Mon Apr 15, 2013 2:45 pm

Good points wdr. I think any riding helps any other type of riding. Just getting out and riding through town or in the yard is going to help. The more comfortable you get on the bike the better off you will be. You'll learn the feel of how your bike handles in different situations. This is my 10 year old's problem; he doesn't get out and ride at home. He goes to the track and he doesn't have any idea of how to pedal the bike; that seems crazy I know. He, of course, knows how to ride a bike but he has no idea of all the little nuances that goes with it.

What you're talking about actually was used against me Friday night. A guy who said he does a lot of downhill MTB'ing beat me in the 2nd moto when he had bike problems near the end but was able to pump through the rhythm section to stay ahead. He said his MTB skills came in handy.

Most tracks will let people ride the track on practice nights regardless of whether they are a member of USABMX or not but at a higher cost. At the track I go to the difference is only $1. But I have seen at least one track in NC on their site specify that you MUST be a member of USABMX to ride the track so if you're going out to one, make sure you can ride it before driving to it. In my case my "local" track is 1.5 hours away.
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