This article is part of a series on how-to skills for mountain biking:
Got the basics of going uphill and downhill on a mountain bike? Now it's time to start navigating obstaces. This is where the real fun begins.
Hop a log
Feeling like a badass? Try hopping a log. Approach it at a 90 degree angle so your tires don’t glance off when you make contact. About a foot or so before your front tire touches the log:
This lightens the front end and allows your front wheel to easily rise over the bump. As your rear wheel makes contact with the log, straighten your knees and move your weight back toward the center of the bike and pedal. This lightens the rear end of the bike and allows it to hop over the log.
Rocks: the mountain biker's pothole
Remember to relax as you go over them, letting your knees and elbows absorb the shock, and keep pedaling. Stay in your seat to keep weight on your rear wheel and avoid slipping. Plus a light front tire will help you better navigate any upcoming obstacles.
Water: time to get messy
You dirty girl, you! Check puddle/water depths before you cross, making sure there aren’t any hidden rocks or holes. Then hit the water at a moderate, steady pace, and let your bike to guide you through. Tap the breaks to squeegee the water off your rims once you’re through.
Leaves: worse than ice
Wet leaves are a major cause of slipping tires, and can be almost as scary as ice. Avoid them when you can. In Michigan, wet roots can be a more common obstacle. Try to hit them at a 90 degree angle and don’t try cornering while you are riding over them.
Mud: channel your inner Moses
Try to avoid this, too, but if deep mud is unavoidable (don’t go around! this will widen the path and cause the trail to erode), imagine yourself as Charlton Heston in the Ten Commandants — except it's your front tire that parts the ooze. Pedal hard before the Red Sea swallows you up.
So now you know how to go uphill, how to do downhill, how to navigate obstacles and the two things every woman should know about mountain biking. But reading about it is nothing like actually doing it, and doing it with a bunch of supportive women surrounding you.
Jill Hinton Wolfe