Riding Switchbacks on your Mountain Bike
There are no shortcuts to better mountain biking. You need to learn the skills and practice, practice, practice. Once those skills are second nature, the speed will come and you will find yourself on trickier courses and enjoying your mountain biking even more.
Tight switchback turns are tricky enough for even the most competent of riders. Tight, steep trails taking you up or down the mountain mean that switchbacks are commonplace in the steep terrain. It is not a good idea to skid round a switchback not only does it rip up the track, but you end up with less control and run the risk of falling off. If you’re not an expert at bunny hopping, then you’ll need to slow right down when approaching the switchback.
- Stay on the uphill side of the trail as you approach the switchback this will allow you to make the widest circle possible and avoid any obstacles lurking in the inside of the corner
- Place your weight over the rear wheel and put your outside pedal forward (that’s the pedal closest to the corner!). This is important to ensure that you remain flexible to move the bike and rotate your upper body
- Pick your line – As you approach the corner, ensure your weight is on your outside pedal and slightly back on the saddle. Put your wheel to the outside of the corner and lean your bike the opposite direction until you are almost falling to the inside. Ease off the brakes and let your bike roll under yourself. Remember to look at the exit of where you want to go, try to avoid looking at the drop off! When you have passed the tightest point of the inside corner and are beginning to come out of the corner, let off the brakes and start accelerating away. Some riders will naturally favour one foot over another and therefore find switchbacks to the right (left foot forward) easier than switchbacks to the left (right foot forward).
- Look where you are going, not where you are – Continue to look ahead to whatever’s coming next.
- The Green Line is wide and Uses the Entire Corner making it easier to negotiate the turn and able to exit the turn at higher speed
- The Red Line is first a 90 Degree turn reducing the amount of track that can be used, slower and more likely to fall short definitely slowing down…maybe even crash