Have you thought about standing up on your bike?
For offroad cyclists, the standing position is quite important for descending and to clear obstacles.
There are generally two positions we move dynamically between when we stand up on our bike to coast between obstacles or downhills. This post will not deal with standing pedaling or cornering.
Position #1 ‘recovery standing’ or ‘neutral’ position
You can see Molly’s arms and legs are fairly straight, she is basically ‘just’ standing up and waiting for the next bump, corner, obstacle or opportunity to sit back down! Seeing nose over the stem and heels dropped is a good indicator of a strong, centered or neutral position.
In the picture above can you imagine what the rider is riding towards? Are they ready to stomp or compress into action? In all of these standing postures, the hands are not ‘death-gripped’ and much of the weight is on the feet/pedals.
Position #2 ‘Ready Position’
The Rider above is in a berm so she has lowered her body by bending her elbows, knees, and hips more. As she stays low and *centered* (not butt back, which means arms extend). Her nose is still generally over the stem/bar. The key is that we likely won’t be holding this ‘attack’ position for too long. Often we just touch it. Too often in coaching and clinics, we spend time drilling ‘attack’ position in a field where it isn’t required and where it gets misinterpreted as a place to stay for extended periods while being very stiff (e.g. not adapting dynamically to the terrain).
What to avoid
Many times athletes get caught between this higher, straight legs standing and the ‘ready’ position. This example is taken from the Ryan Leech ‘Bulletproof Basics Course’(which goes through many concepts including standing up!). In this example, you can see a more upright torso, straighter arms but bent knees (or knees forward). This is one variation of a ‘between’ position that riders can get locked into and be static. As Ryan details in the course, we want to be more fluid and be careful locking into a position in offroad cycling.
Adding Dynamic Motion
Once you have a handle on the two standing positions the key is to move dynamically through them. This might be called ‘pressure’ or ‘stomping’ or ‘pressing’. You can try all the cues and see what works for you. Most skills require you to apply this pressure by moving around while standing up on your bike. Watch this video I did with Canadian Cycling Magazine for more on stomping and introductions to jumping an getting air!
Your goal is to feel like you could coast for a very long time while standing and to feel like you are stable enough that you can generate movement and pressure. Can you find a comfortable standing position where you are balanced and ready?