Riding Tip: You Ride Where Your Shoulders Are Pointed

by Robb Sutton

Mountain Biking Riding TipsHave you ever noticed that you tend to ride straight where you are looking? It never fails…a riding buddy tells you not to look over the left side because there is a steep drop off and when you get to that section of trail…you look over the side and you almost ride straight off the mountain. Or…there is that one tree that you just always seem to hit at your local trail and…when you come up on it…you stare right at it to make sure you don’t slam straight into it…but you do…again!

Why do you continually ride where you are looking? Because your shoulders are moving with your head. 99.9% of the time, you are going to ride wherever your shoulders are pointed no matter where you actually want to end up after pedaling. When dirt jumpers are learning those crazy whips and 360’s, the first thing they learn is to point their shoulders in the direction they want to go…not where they are right at that moment. By looking in that direction, you force your upper body to move with your neck in the pursuit of alternative direction.

How Can I Translate This To My Trail Riding

Most of you are not trying to do a 360, you are just trying to not hit the obstacles that continually give you trouble, so how do you relate this back to your riding on your trails? When you find yourself in a situation that you need to pinpoint your direction, look where you want to go…not at what you don’t want to hit. By looking in the direction that you want your mountain bike to ride, you are pointing your mass towards this plane and forcing your forward motion in that direction. If you stare at that rock you don’t want to run over, all of your forward motion is going to be concentrated in that direction and you are going to hit…fall of off…or crash into whatever it is you were trying to avoid in the first place. Like most riding mishaps…it is not the trail or your bike…it is in your head.



Gainesville Bikes September 12, 2009 - 1:31 pm

The other thing to consider is where your shoulders and head point, your spine goes, so you can injure yourself if you are always riding cockeyed or hitting a jump hard crooked.

Tim September 10, 2009 - 5:57 pm

Very similar to this is something I’ve found in recent rides. Taking corners and riding berms, the bike will naturally stay on the trail if you place your upper body where you want the bike to be. That’s a little confusing, yes, but try it. Next time you approach a quick turn or berm, think more about where your upper body is in relation to the trail. Keeping your upper body “above” or in line with the trail will ensure your bike stays under control and doesn’t coast (with you attached) off the top of the berm.


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