Last week’s featured MTB article was all about how to clean a technical section of trail. This week is about planning ahead by looking ahead.
Mountain biking includes a lot of immediate challenges: a rock or root to get your front wheel over, a mud puddle to bunny hop, or maybe a sandy section to cross. Making those immediate challenges easy means learning to look ahead as you’re riding the trail and knowing what you’re putting your front wheel into long before you get there.
There’s a lot of visual hints you can use to know what’s ahead:
- What’s the general feel of the terrain? If it’s steep up, you’re probably in for some steep downs.
- Is the trail about to dive into the trees? If so, there’s likely to be some tighter single track.
- How does the dirt look? If it’s super dry, there could be some sandy spots a head.
Thinking about what may be ahead gives you a little bit of time to plan your reaction based on your riding skills. In a racing situation, it may actually be faster to run a super steep, short climb. Having thought ahead about things like this can give you a bit of an edge over your fellow racers. Anticipating what’s a head might also give you a few more seconds to find the right gear and charge the steep up without a dab.
Ride a trail you’re not familiar with and practice looking ahead and anticipating what’s next. Mastering this skill will improve your riding (and impress your riding buddies!)
And, as always, the most important skills tip: get out and go for a ride!