Dropping in on the bike scene

How to get started in downhill biking

Summer biking is just around the corner. File photo.

“It’s mountain biking…you’re going to get dirty, you might get hurt, but that’s all part of the fun,” said Elliot Capper, a local biking expert.

It can be scary to take up a new sport, especially one such as downhill mountain biking. Even more so in a community full of bike culture and seemingly full of experts. That’s why Capper recommended anyone looking to get into the sport take a lesson to learn the terrain and tools to be successful on the trails.

“Go out with one of the guides, and then they’ll just take you on the skills course on the bunny hill,” he said. “You’ll just learn the basic skills like finding your center of balance and all that kind of stuff.”

Capper explained downhill biking it a lot different than just pedalling around on a bike and a lesson or maybe two will set you up for a successful first season out on the trails.

“If you’re going downhill your stance is going to be different, you’re going to be using one finger on the break instead of two. There’s all sorts of little things that just help you ride that much better,” said Capper.

As an individual sport, he recognized that every rider and their ability will be different. Some only need one lesson to feel comfortable hitting the trails alone while others will spend a few days with their instructor progressing from the Bike Skills Park to lift-accessed green runs like Smooth Smoothie.

“We say to people if you can ride Sun Peaks you can ride anywhere.”

He recommended beginners or even intermediate riders stick to flow trails like the new beginner trail still known as the “new green trail” before taking the leap to something a bit more challenging like Gummy Bear.

“It’ll put you out of your comfort zone a little, but again that’s what you want, isn’t it? You’re not going to get better if you don’t push yourself,” said Capper.

Other than recommending a lesson he said his biggest tips for those just starting out are to always stand up, no matter how tired you are, remember one finger braking and to keep your arms bent.

“Always stand up, never sit down because then if you’re hitting compressions or anything it kicks you up and over the bike.”

Much like skiing, he stressed the importance of looking where you want to go. This will help maintain speed and help avoid oncoming obstacles.

“Wherever you’re looking that’s where you’re naturally going to follow, it’s just what happens. Your bike will follow you wherever you want it to go,” said Capper.

A few common mistakes he sees on the mountain are people sitting on their bike and riding a bike that’s not the correct fit, two easily correctable mistakes that can make or break your day on the mountain.

Capper’s final piece of advice was to get out on the trails early. He added some of the best learning conditions at Sun Peaks happen during the first month of summer operations.

 

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