Don't just "go light"
Most people are told to “go light” over roots and slippy rocks, but there is more to it than that.
The real advantage here is getting the traction while you are still on the ground. Going light over the obstacle is second to making sure you have the traction on either side. Grip Points™ could get a mention here.
Don’t just “go light”
If you ride technical trails, then you know exactly what it’s like to slip on things like roots and rocks. The advice for getting through these features though, is normally to go light over them.
Ideally you lift your wheels over the obstacle and it has no affect on your traction. This is only half the secret though.
The other half is to create grip while the traction is good. In order to do this you’re going to have to change the way you think about how you control your bike in awkward situations.
If you watch the rider at the start of the video he’s avoiding the roots by lifting his bike off the ground. This will mean that he avoids slipping, but it doesn’t offer him any additional control, meaning that he’ll end up off balance or running out of room at some stage.
A much better way of approaching a bunny hop is to think of it in two stages. How much effort goes in to pushing off the ground, and how much effort goes in to pulling in the air. If you watch the rider here, his technique is about 50/50. 50% is happening on the ground – in other words pushing, and about 50% is happening in the air – or pulling.
What you want that figure to be closer to 70% push, and 30% pull, or maybe 90% push and only 10% pull. If you watch a rider this time, he actually start off with his arms and legs bent and put a huge amount of effort in to the push. That’s why he looks like he has more time in the air – because he’s not pulling. You can then float over the tricky part and come down once things have smoothed out.
What this means is that every time you push you’re going heavy on the trail and creating grip for yourself. If you give yourself room to move and your timing is right, you’ll be able to push on an easy part of trail, go light over the things you’re trying to avoid, then land once the trail has smoothed out again. You’ll be able to link those smooth parts of trail together in a way that means every time you’re in contact with the ground you have control.
Watch the rider at the end of the video. He’s not lifting his bike, he’s starting off by giving himself room to move, then he’s pushing for traction either side of the roots. Do it this way and you’ll feel like you’ve got control on even the most technical of trails.
There’s an app for that!
Dirt School’s free coaching app lets you see the right and wrong techniques in slo-mo.
Words: Andy Barlow