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How to Ride Over Roots

Singletrack is the best type of mountain biking trail. Whether in woodland or on open ground, nothing beats that feeling of speeding along a trail only one bike wide. It’s when you increase your speed that things start to get tricky on singletrack obstacles and tricky surfaces can appear suddenly and catch you unawares. It is hard to see what is coming up and there is little room to maneuver when you encounter an obstacle. Obviously, the goal is to ride as fast as possible while remaining in full control.

Your bike needs to be well maintained. Pay special attention to the brakes, gears and tires. Your need to be happy that your position on the bike good too, as you need to be able to move around the bike comfortably too.

Like all trails, if you have ridden them before then you will have an idea of what is ahead and you’ll be able to anticipate any problems. If you are racing, pre-riding the course is essential, you don’t want any surprises when you are under pressure and trying hard.

Check your speed as you approach the single track. If descending from a wide trail, slow down before you hit the single track when you hit the narrow stuff things it may be too late!

If you are on the flat, you may want to increase your speed to maintain some momentum to tackle the technical section.

Unless the trail is smooth you should be out of the saddle in your downhill position. This will allow you to react quickly to any obstacles, such as roots, rocks and logs or different trail surfaces. Look as far ahead as possible along the line that you wish to follow. If you watch the trees and rocks that are not on your line, you are likely to steer towards them! If you need to pedal, then ride out of the saddle, therefore you can still react to any obstacles.

Use a gear erring on the large side, so that you can pedal standing out of the saddle. But do not use one that is so big that you cannot accelerate back to speed if you brake, or is too tiring to maintain a good cadence and speed.

As you exit the single track you can now relax a bit and wind the speed back up if you have slowed. When the surface is slippery, because of sand, dust or mud, the single track can be a far harder test. With the lack of space you’ll quickly be off line and into the undergrowth. Be confident with your technique and smooth with your pedaling, turning and braking and you will be through a difficult section of singletrack before you know it.


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