Mountain bike MTB skills cornering loose trails

Alpine Riding Skills – Rough With The Smooth

Tips on riding loose terrain

Now that the snow has melted, super sunshine and the odd downpour have created a playground of loose and rubbly terrain.  Whilst the local trail teams work on clearing the odd tree or boulder, we’ve been ironing out some of our own creases … 

In the comfort of our local bike park there’s always room to dodge the loose stuff. Instead on natural trails, whether straight down or in a flat corner, loose terrain is unavoidable. Exposed to the elements, trails here quickly turn from smooth into rough and rubbly. Tragic though that seems, loose conditions are in fact an ideal opportunity to hone skills.

Flat corners
If you’re not sure whether your riding’s in check, loose conditions will soon tell you – especially with flat corners. I’ve been thrown off more times than I can count. Granted, some of that’s mental block. When it happens, I revert back to these basics from Skills with Phil.

Traction tips:-

Nice tips in that video on braking, bike and body position for maximum traction. One other thing I like to bear in mind – with bike and body in line, any unexpected slip and I’m eating dirt! Instead, by bending the bike in and carving the turn on the rail, there’s room to catch any rear wheel slippage. As for the front, keep it light and tracking safely.

Steep corners
Loose adds another dimension to steep corners and that’s typically my freezing point. With a bit of practice, this can be avoided. Rubble accumulates in troughs and in a steep turn a smart entry is just the ticket. Check out this video snippet – a great technique for getting out of tight steep corners.

Pre-turn, it’s all in the hips:-

Straight down
What with dodging crevices and dropping into loose rubble sooner or later something is bound to kick. Again a potential freak out point where freezing up, gripping with the legs or putting the foot down typically results in disaster. Instead it’s the bike that should take the hit. How? Heels down, soft knees open a little absorbing impact, weight behind the saddle, chest down, elbows out maximizing the bike’s range of movement. Getting comfortable with big kicks and sliding about is half the battle. Just remember to go easy on yourself and above all, stay loose.

Happy riding!