Fred Astaire was an incredible mountain biker. Nimble and fast, like a gazelle on wheels. Well he may have been, I’m not sure to be honest, but its a nice image. Footwork is another area thats easy to dismiss but can make a huge difference. I’ve already mentioned the importance of driving your weight through that outside foot when you’re cornering. This gives you great stability and control.
When you’re in the middle of a hairy descent and braking hard, the momentum of your body puts pressure on your hands or your feet. If it goes mainly through your hands the bike becomes less stable and it becomes harder for you to steer. So get your weight back up over the saddle and drop your heels on the pedals. As you brake harder, drop those heels down, forcing the pressure through your feet which improves stability and keeps your hands free to steer the bike.
It’s a great idea to keep those heels down whenever you removing quickly over tricky terrain. The flex in your ankles means you can soak up the bumps more effectively. Keeping that weight back from the handlebars also means you re more ready to react to changes in speed. So next time you re hooning down a rocky path of despair, just remember your feet, like our old friend Mr. Astaire.