Crashing is part of our sport but these unplanned get-offs should be the exception rather than the norm. Our friends from GMBN have some good tips but we have some very useful suggestions to add. Here are the five basic tips to stay upright.
1. Drops and going over the bars
Leaning too far forward and having a very high saddle are culprits in this disaster. Leaning back is the key but the most critical element is timing the weight shift towards the back as your front wheel enters the drop. This will lift the front of the bike and set up the attitude of the bike perfectly for the landing. The slower the bike speed, the more pronounced the weight shift needs to be.
Pro Tip: Do not enter the drop with your weight back behind the saddle all the way. You will get pitched forward over the bars. The weight shift from front to back is essential.
Always understand the pitch of each jump and know where the lip of the jump is. Execute your jump by unweighting the bike and your body as your front wheel leaves the jump. Too early and you’ll pitch backwards, too late and you’ll pitch forward or nose down.
As the video explains, most problems occur at take-off and pulling at the bars can pitch you sideways. Jump the bike by unweighting the bike, not by pulling on the bars.
Always study the corners and the dirt. If there is a berm and the dirt has good traction, you can lean the bike and your body with good speed through the turn. But if it’s loose, with a flat or reverse camber corner, do not lean your body (like a road cyclist). Lean the bike but keep your body perpendicular to the ground. This will keep traction and when the unpredictable slide out occurs, the bike will slide slightly but you will not get slapped to the ground.
As the video states, do not look where your tire is going but rather, scan far forward, depending on your speed and plan your line and your weight balance. Get in the attack position and give yourself the best chance to avoid obstacles and be light on the bike when you hit them.
Braking is about modulation and maintaining traction and control. Brake as much as the terrain will give you and understand that about 80% of your braking power comes from the front. On steep areas, put your heel down to drive your hips low and back to give you more braking traction in the rear.