A mountain bike uplift day is, let’s face it pretty awesome. Getting driven to the top of the hill as many times as your heart desires (or body allows) whilst is great fun, is also a pretty expensive way to ride. With that in mind, we have put together our top ways, which will help you to get the most from your uplift day.
An uplift is a wonderful thing whether it be winter, summer or somewhere in between. On everyday rides, most of us will pedal bikes up the hill in order to go back down again, part of the draw being the adrenaline hit involved in pushing yourself to your riding limits on the descents. So, whilst there are cyclists out there who revel in a good hill climb, there are plenty more that grovel to the top in order to enjoy the thrills (and spills) on the way back down. For those riders, the uplift is a day of joy, full of eye-watering descents, sketchy moments, sore arms and above all, good times. A recent trip to a bike park and an SPD faux pas got us thinking about being prepared so are our tips for making the most of your uplift day...
Well before your uplift day, give your bike a once over to check it's all in good working order. Uplift days can be tough on bikes, they get a hammering, so it's good to know your steed is up to the job in hand! We reckon good things to check are:
- Are all bolts tight?
- Are all bearing/bushings running smoothly with no play?
- Are tyres in good nick, with plenty of tread?
- Is there enough sealant in tubless tyres?
- Is there plenty of life left in brake pads?
On the day of the uplift, give your bike a final once over, lube the chain and check tyre pressures too.
Set the pressure on the day....
Talk and Organise
Whether you are on your own or riding with a group, the best thing you can do it talk to each other and plan the trails you and the others sharing the uplift all want to ride. For starters this will ensure that you all get to hit up the trails you want to. Secondly, if the group are all riding similar trails it means you will all arrive back at the bus/tractor at the same time, leaving no one hanging about waiting for the rest. It’ll also mean that stragglers won’t miss an uplift, leaving them twiddling their thumbs at the bottom of the hill.
We reckon talking is also a good thing from a safety perspective, uplift trails can get pretty gnarly and it’s easy to come a cropper on a technical or fast piece of track. If you do want to split ways or, dare we say it miss a lap, then it’s best to let the group what you are doing. Again it’ll stop anyone (or the bus) waiting around for you, or worse still, hiking back up the hill to only find you sessioning a bit of trail.
Blue trails are great to warm up on and are usually the most fun!
Easy tracks to warm up
It’ll sound like we’re teaching you to suck eggs but start out on the easy stuff and then progress. Jumping straight out of your car and sending it down a black run is a recipe for disaster! Beginning with a blue run and progressing through reds to the blacks will do your confidence no end of good and consequently, you’ll ride better and be more prepared to tackle any tough sections you’ve had your eye on later in the day.
We usually find that the best time to tackle a hard bit of trail or get to grips with a new skill is mid-morning – you’ll be warmed up and won’t be too hungry or too tired. Leaving it until late in the day is a no go as well, make sure your body is fresh and muscles aren’t too tired, we all know how much riding an uplift takes its toll!
Wear a full face lid or one with a removable chin bar
It’s winter and we’ve just experienced a particularly chilly snap so wrapping up before a ride is top of our list! Warm clothing is a must on an uplift day, as much of your day will be spent descending and warmth won’t be created by pedalling. Whatever heat is generated on the descents will be quickly lost standing in an uplift queue so think about what you need to wear to keep your temperature from rising and falling a lot during the day.
Our recipe for warmth includes a base layer, a windproof layer and windproof gloves in the winter, including any body armour we choose to wear – usually knee pads, elbow pads, a low profile back protector and a full face lid. For summer uplift days we usually stick to long sleeved jerseys that wick away the sweat well and fairly hard wearing gloves to fend off any spills that might occur!
Knee pads fit for a big spill are recommended!
Eating and drinking enough throughout the day is pretty important! It’s all too easy to get carried away and forget about keeping your body fuelled until the energy really starts to wane. We find it’s best to fit a water bottle to your bike to deal with the hydration situation. We then cram pockets, a bum bag or ‘swat’ type bibs with cereal bars in order to keep energy levels up. Our general advice is, eat before you get hungry and then don’t gorge on food at lunchtime – the last thing you need during the afternoon session is to feel lethargic and full of food!
Get a proper lunch but don't go overboard!
Get friendly with the driver
Your driver will, no doubt, be the best-placed person to tell you which trails are the most fun, which are running well and crucially what features you might find on said trails. Largely, we’ve found, drivers have a great in depth knowledge of the trails because they have usually had a hand and a spade in building them. Get chatting and eek out some knowledge, it’ll make your day all the better, especially if you haven’t ridden the trails before!
Get in your stride and then go for the gnarly stuff!
Lately, we've been along and had great days at the following uplift centres, try em' out for size!
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