One of my favorite parts of riding is hammering sections full of rocks and roots. The suspension gets to show off exactly how much grip there is to be had on the trail and it is an escape from smooth singletrack. If I had my choice, every trail would be littered with as many rough sections as possible.
When riders are just starting out or trying to get into more technical riding, these larger roots and rocks can be intimidating. In the video above, Tara Llanes takes you through the basics of roots, rocks and water crossings. Who better to hear it from than a X-Games gold medalist and World Cup DH Champion?
We also have a couple more things to add for a couple of unique situations…
The Mountain Bike
Whether you want to admit it or not, your bike has much more capability than your riding skill. There are situations that as long as you have your weight back (keeps you from going over the bars) and you trust the bike, you will pull out of it just fine. Sometimes as riders, we let our head get too much in the game and we end up wrecking ourselves instead of committing and letting the bike do its job. The more you can let the bike naturally do what it wants to…the better off you will end up.
Modern mountain bikes – even xc race oriented ones – are much more capable of technical riding than in the past. Trust the bike and the flow.
What it looks like vs. what it really is…
How many times have you stared at a section of trail only to psych yourself out of riding it? On a mountain bike trail, unless you are looking at a huge drop or road gap, the trail rarely rides like it looks.
If you are nervous about a section, have a friend ride over it first and then follow that same rider down for your first run. Even some of the most technical looking rollers end up feeling like nothing on the bike if you just try it. I can’t tell you how many times I have watched riders stare at a section of trail only to be semi embarrassed after they ride it because it ended up being nothing in the end.
Slow Speed Technical Wrecking
Last weekend, a friend of mine and I were sessioning a section of slow speed technical rock croppings. While it looked catastrophic if one of us would have crashed, the reality is that we were not going fast enough for anything serious to happen. One of the best ways to get better at riding more technical trail with roots and rocks is to session slow speed technical trail until you get it right. Your body ends up learning the bike, your center of gravity and momentum better which translates to the on trail experience.
The trail is going to look like you could lose a limb if you fall (as long as there isn’t a cliff you could fall off of), but don’t be scared to try as a wreck in that situation would amount to you just falling over and trying again. I can’t tell you how many times we did during the session and left without a scratch.
You Just Have To Ride!
Roots, rocks and water crossings are trail features you just have to ride to get over the initial fear. Especially if you are on 29 inch wheels, the bike is built to get you from point a to point b during the run. The trick is to trust your bike and have the desire to become a better mountain biker to conquer the feature.
Even if technical riding is not what you want to do all of the time, it will make you a better rider for those types of trails you call home. Every rider gains from learning how to control their bike better and learning more about balance and momentum.
Now just go hit that section of trail you have been staring at for too long…
I founded Bike198 back in 2007 and started riding bikes seriously in 1994. A lot has changed since that time and one of the greatest releases is still getting out on the bike and shredding trail or tearing up the road.