Oh, the dreaded skinny. Wait, what is a “skinny”? A skinny is typically referring to a thin or narrow feature you can ride, most often made of wood, either planks or log(s). Skinnies come in all different shapes and sizes!
For many riders, the thought of getting those fat mountain bike tires rolling in a straight line down a log or thin plank gets the heart pounding. Fear not! Follow these 6 tips and you’ll be conquering skinnies in no time.
1. Eyes up
Keep your eyes up and looking ahead. Arguably the #1 secret to riding that skinny from start to finish is looking where you want to go. Keep your head up and eyes forward, looking straight ahead towards the end of the skinny. Remember, your bike goes where your eyes look. If you look at the drop-off to the right, chances are you and your bike will follow.
2. Get Out of The Saddle
Get out of your saddle. This will allow you to use side to side movements to keep yourself centered and balanced over the skinny.
3. Bail Before You Fail
If you do have to bail, do it with purpose! If you feel yourself losing your line, the last thing you want to do is try to put a foot down. If the skinny you are attempting is elevated, putting a foot down will likely result in a sideways tumble and nasty ol’ hip bruise. Instead, use those slow speed transition skills to tell your front wheel exactly where you want it to go. Make sure your landing is clear and explode your handlebars down and forward. Keep your head up, look ahead, and roll off.
To ensure you know what to do in case you find yourself wandering off the skinny, practice safely bailing off a skinny! This will help you gain confidence and will improve your ability to envision yourself making it down the skinny (one less thing to worry about!).
4. Start With Low Consequence
Start with something of low consequence. Learning how to ride in a straight line while leaning the bike is critical to riding a skinny successfully. A painted line in a parking lot is perfect for this! A long curb is also a great place to start, or lay a 2×6 in the grass and practice riding down it. As you progress, build up to longer, higher exposure skinnies.
You may also find that simply getting comfortable standing on your pedals and moving around will help you with your skinnies skills! To get gain some confidence with leaning your bike from side to side, practice bike-body separation on flat ground.
5. Stay Positive
As with most things in mountain biking, you need to be able to envision yourself riding the feature. Whether you think you can or think you can’t ride something… you’re right. Replacing negative thoughts with positive self talk can go a long way for helping you take your riding to the next level.
6. Practice, Practice, Practice
As with most mountain bike skills, the more you practice riding skinnies, the better you’ll get at them! This skill in particular will help you progress as an over-all rider as it teaches you how to be very specific with your line choice.
— We’d love to hear your thoughts, ideas and questions … Please comment below!
I felt so confident that I recently signed up for the Catalina MTB Gran Fondo!
I participated in the beginner skill clinic at Malibu Creek last Saturday, because I'm truly a beginner who couldn't stop...
Ninja Mountain Bike Skills
I participated in the beginner skill clinic at Malibu Creek last Saturday, because I'm truly a beginner who couldn't stop falling down during each mtb ride. The class was small and super fun...and the instructors (Richard and Kris) were informative and dynamic. The clinic was small enough for each member to practice each learned skill and receive immediate feedback. I learned many new skills on that day and felt much more confident with my bike-body connection. I felt so confident that I recently signed up for the Catalina MTB Gran Fondo...the 55 mile route! Woohooo!! The next day, as I was road biking (training for the Solvang Double Century), I dodged a bullet on the Snake/Mulholland by applying my learned mtb skills--a long towing truck went over almost half of our lane on a blind turn as we were descending. Instead of fixating on the truck, I remembered the importance of looking for a clear path and keeping my eyes on where I want to go....Now I understand what people meant when they said that mtb will help improve my road riding skills too! I'm grateful for the opportunity to learn, and I look forward to the next clinic! ~ Uyen N.
I was so happy I could transfer what I learned in Sedona to my own trails.
I just rode on my local trails today after taking the Ninja clinic in Sedona. I was so happy I...
Ninja Mountain Bike Skills
I just rode on my local trails today after taking the Ninja clinic in Sedona. I was so happy I could transfer what I learned in Sedona to my own trails. There is one drop and one off camber downhill section I never have had the courage or skill to ride until today. It was so fun to ride them and not get off and walk. Richard La China and Courtney Cowan were fantastic instructors. Not only did I up my technical skills in Sedona it was also a ton of fun! ~Patty Elliott
Took the mini clinic on jumping skills because I can't resist the urge to get in the air even though...
Ninja Mountain Bike Skills
Took the mini clinic on jumping skills because I can't resist the urge to get in the air even though I always knew I didn't really understand the mechanics of it, so it was a kind of "huck and hope" affair. The result was that I didn't land about 1 in 5 attempts. The clinic with Aaron was great! He explained the mechanics of how the bike is handled coming into, through and out of the jump and starts with individual small skills progressing step by step in a very manageable way (even for me, and I started this stuff at 45 and I'm not very coordinated). What I feel sets Aaron apart is his ability to communicate his explanations and demonstrate movements in a way that makes them easy to learn even for someone with little experience. He is also very patient and encouraging, which helps when one is starting out and struggling a little with some movements. I definitely intend to do more clinics with Ninja MBS. I feel like it will save me a lot of time and frustration as well as possibly a lot of money in medical bills! ~Jill M.
I would encourage anyone of any ability to take a class with these guys.
I recently attended one of the Intermediate/Advanced Efficiency and Flow clinics. Even though I have been riding for many years...
Ninja Mountain Bike Skills
I recently attended one of the Intermediate/Advanced Efficiency and Flow clinics. Even though I have been riding for many years I learned a lot from this clinic. The techniques covered ranged from reviewing basic skills such as basic body position to practicing more advanced techniques like switchbacks, bunny hops, and cornering. I was able to recognize, get instruction, and practice some skills where I was weak and instantly improve them. Even skills I thought I was pretty good at I was able to pick up useful tips. I also realized that deliberate skills practice is not something I incorporate into my riding, but now that I understand what I should be doing I will make sure to add this in! After taking the course my comfort on the bike has improved and I am more aware of my body position and movement of the bike. I would encourage anyone of any ability to take a class with these guys. The instructors are knowledgeable and easy to work with. There is a lot of one on one help and they will make sure you understand the skills being taught and are able to perform them successfully. Plus the clinic was lots of fun! I highly recommend and hope to work with these guys again soon. ~ Michelle A.
We are a group of passionate, dirt-loving, community oriented, world-class mountain bike skills instructors committed to helping you reach your personal riding goals through clinics and camps. We are excited to work with riders of all ability levels and share the joy (STOKE) of mountain biking.