Don’t mountain bike like a roadie: Cornering on the trail
When you roll down some singletrack on your mountain bike, all kinds of obstacles lie in your path. Roots, trees, rocks and rutted trails are all conspiring to knock you off your bike.
When you roll down some singletrack on your mountain bike, all kinds of obstacles lie in your path. Roots, trees, rocks and rutted trails are all conspiring to knock you off your bike. The line you take on the trail is key to staying clear of these obstacles and having a smooth ride.
If you tend to ride on the worn part of the trail, change that practice. The worn part of the trail might feel like the easiest, most obvious line to take, but in most cases it is not the best one. For instance, when you brake on a descent or into a corner, one of the problems you’ll often face is the jarring caused by the braking bumps that have been laid down by all the riders passing through the trail. A great technique to avoid them is to ride slightly to the outside of the trail, where there is less wear and the surface offers a smoother ride.
Hitting the outside of the trail will also set you up nicely for an upcoming corner. On a mountain bike, you want to take your corners outside to outside. This technique is in contrast with riding on the road, where the approach is outside, inside, outside. When you encounter a corner on the trail, start on the outside of the corner, stay wide past the apex, and then drop into the corner before exiting to the outside to maintain your speed.
Using the outside of the trail will do a few things. First, it will create a greater turning radius to help get your bike around a corner, especially on a steep switchback climb. From the outside, you will have a better view of the trail so that you can see what is coming and set up for the next obstacle or corner. Think of weaving through a series of trees and needing to see around them quickly to decide which line you will continue to ride. The wider you go, the more you’ll be able to see. Finally, the inside of the trail is often where you will find the roots and rocks that will give you a puncture or the tree leaning in that will throw you for a loop when you hit it with your shoulder.
When choosing where to ride while mountain biking, keep your eyes open for the smoother, wider line that often presents itself on the outside of the trail. The outside will be safer and faster, and will help you ride better.