It may sound obvious to say that looking at where you want to go is a particularly important — even crucial — skill on a bike. But it is one that is surprisingly difficult to master properly, and it’s essential to good riding. No matter how many times you’ve heard it said before, it’s usually one of the first things forgotten in the heat of the moment.

Your body is hard-wired to a path dictated by your eyes, which makes looking ahead to the right areas one of the most important elements of riding a bike fast and in control. And it applies whether you’re looking at the line you want to take, or the obstacle you want to avoid. So if your eyes stray from the path of righteousness, you’ll be doubly punished!

For example, if you’re riding across a camber and spot a root that might spit your rear wheel off the trail, keeping yourself fixated on it will make you tense up and be thrown off balance when you do hit it.

However, if you are looking ahead and focusing on what’s beyond the root, you may not even notice the impact. If you do slide, you’ll be so committed to moving forward that the necessary corrections will come instinctively — and that’s the key to freeing up your mind to concentrate on becoming a better rider.

The aim this month is to really hammer home where to look on a mountain bikein order to spot the line you want to take and any obstacles you need to avoid. In this video, Brendan Fairclough gives you his tips on where to look on the trail, and talks you through an exercise that’ll help you get better.

For a more in-depth look at this crucial skill, see the March issue of MBR, on sale from Wednesday, February 4.