Stalling as a Technique
STALL. ON. PURPOSE.
Here’s the scenario, I’m having fun riding this fairly steep, sometimes rocky, rutted, and rooted climb. Unfortuntely, at about the 1 minute 20 second mark, I make a mistake and the front wheel pops over the edge of the trail onto off camber, steep, loose slope. I immediately stall the bike ON PURPOSE. Why? Cause any forward momentum is going to take me further off trail and down hill. Unless you have an auto-clutch, when the bike stalls, it will usually just stop right where it is. No need to grab the brakes and wrestle the bike around. Just stall and stop. That allows me to quietly and deliberately evaluate my options. Can I do something to ride the bike out? Or do I need to dismount, and position the bike properly before getting back on to ride? In this video I roll the bike backards and downhill until my front tire is back in a nice rut on the main line. Then I fire the bike up and ride up with control and minimal wheel spin.
Now, some might say, “Just grab a handful of throttle and power your way out!” That might work. What I know for sure is that will tear up and widen the trail. What I know for sure is that downhill slope is loose, and I might just get catapulted further downhill and off the trail. By choosing to stall and ride in control, I minimize potential damage to the trail and my body! And that’s a win-win!
Between a Rock & Hard Place
MADE THE LEDGE, NOT THE TURN!
It’s important to ride efficiently and conserve energy. While riding can feel effortless, picking the bike up and renogotiating a section after a fall quickly saps my energy. This video was shot at Rabbit Valley Colorado’s Trail 8. I made the two foot ledge, but fell on the sharp left turn. I left the bike in gear and picked it up.
The video shows me balancing the bike, one handed, on the edge of the ledge while I make my way to the left side of the bike. Using the clutch, I gently back the bike down the ledge and onto solid ground. Then I put the bike in neutral. This allowed me to easily move the bike to a flat section with a better angle and a bit of run up, before cleaning the ledge and hard left turn.
Some might leave the bike on the ledge and wrestle the front wheel around. Plain and simple, I’m not strong enough. I prefer to conserve my energy, let gravity help me and then use the power of the motor to negotiate this section.
Line Choice with Slo Mo
SMOOTH IS GOOD!
Line choice is a critical skill for off road riding. My first choice in lines is usually “smooth.” It’s imperative for riders to look ahead, evaluate terrain options, and choose the best line. It’s also imperative for riders to “manage the front end.” Even in difficult terrain, if the front end is balanced and on track, the back end will usually follow. I frequently see riders simply following the main line. Often, just a couple inches to the side, is a smoother, better line.
In this video I approach a small 10″ drop off. Looking ahead I see sizable loose rocks. In slow motion you will see me ride slightly to the right, keeping the edge of the tire in contact with the rock while riding gently down. This allows me to navigate the front wheel back and forth avoiding loose rocks. Slow motion is running at 30% of speed. Great line choice is complimented with good balance and quick reflexes.
And yes, some might just blast straight through this section careening over and bouncing off rocks. But, no matter how good and strong a rider is, eventually poor line choice results in a crash.
To learn more about this, check out my blog post “Line Choice is Critical to Off Road Riding.”
Wolford Mountain OHV Gully
While I was out exploring Wolford Mountain OHV area, I discovered this sweet little single track hidden in a gully. I was aware that I did not know the trail and that riders could be coming from the opposing direction. With this in mind, I carefully approach blind corners. Only when I can see beyond the corner do I accelerate though a high banked turn. At the 1 minute 20 second and 1 minute 45 second marks, I approach two blind hilltops. Close to the top, I back off the throttle. This technique of accelearating hard into and up the hill, but rolling the top is safer and keeps me from looping the bike at the top.
Less obvious situational awareness is the trail itself. Notice that water travels the path of least resistence, and where the water flows is where the loose rocks are. This awareness is key. When traversing a double track on a hillside, water often pools in the lower track. That means the upper line may have fewer loose rocks. When I encounter big muddy puddles, this situational awareness helps me to choose my line. Deep holes might be located where the water pools. And when negotiating dark stream crossings, I use my situational awareness evaluating where ruts, holes, and rocks are most likely to be. By being aware and ready, I am able to react more quickly.
Riding Along Shore Wolford Reservoir
FOR SALE: OCEAN FRONT PROPERTY!
Living in land locked Colorado means I don’t get to enjoy beach riding…or do I? The only thing special about this video is what you cannot see- the size of the grin on my face. For just a few seconds I was transported to Baja Mexico!!! Yee! Haw!