Should you ride over, through or around that obstacle?
What is the cost associated with each of these options? The reality is, we may be hitting the trail with different objectives; a casual ride with friends, working on our technical skills or perhaps racing to a finish line. The nature of your ride should impact how you read and subsequently ride the trail. Riding for speed is different than learning how to feature over obstacles, snagging the best Instagram shot or maintaining energy for an endurance race. Picking the right line on the trail is up to you.
Here are a few key things to consider:
Amount of Energy Required – Do you need to save energy for something else coming up on the trail / course?
Fatigue Level – Are you trashed tired? Perhaps an easier, but longer line would be a better choice?
Risk of Mechanical – Are you miles and miles away from the trail head and don’t want to get stuck walking out? Or, ending your race early?
Risk of Crashing – Do you have the skills required to tackle the more challenging line?
FUN! – Would you rather soar through the air over the obstacle, or rip around it?
Time – Is time a factor? Perhaps the most direct line is best?
While a straight line is the shortest line, it may (over time) result in fatigue and may increase the risk of mechanical (flats, etc.). If you are a proficient jumper, it may be best to use the obstacle to feature (jump) over the obstacle. Or, perhaps — go around the obstacle or walk the obstacle.
In this video you can see Ninja Instructor Cory Rimmer featuring off the first root in this root cluster to sail over them. This line option allowed Cory to maintain his speed AND snag a wicked video for his Instagram feed. Did anyone notice Ninja Instructor Shanna Powell — known for her slogan “I’d rather be rad than fast.” — supervising on the bench behind Cory? What do you think, did Cory take the “rad” or “fast” line?
Next time you head out to your favorite trail, pick a strategy….any strategy! Try riding a different line than your usual and see how it feels. Perhaps you will surprise yourself! Maybe that root sections that you used to power through is actually more fun to sail over. Maybe dismounting and walking your bike up that gnarly technical rock garden means you have more energy at the end of the ride to enjoy the flow section.
Richard La China is a Professional Mountain Bike racer, USAC Certified Cycling Coach and a IMBA Certified Mountain Bike Skills Instructor who coaches beginner to pro cyclist. Currently working with mountain bike XC, Endurance and Enduro racers and other competitive and non-competitive mountain bike riders seeking to become their best.
Had a great class Oct 11. Kris and Richard were very helpful and knowledgeable. They made things fun and easy...
Had a great class Oct 11. Kris and Richard were very helpful and knowledgeable. They made things fun and easy going, even while rolling you off the the lunch table bench. Came away with a bit more confidence which I have already put into practice. I really appreciated the review of what was covered in the class in the follow up email. Looking forward to taking the Jan intermediate class at Balboa, hopefully it will be up for registering soon. In the mean time I have a lot to work on. ~Linda Peterson
Don’t hesitate, sign up for the next skills clinic in your area!
My adult son and I participated in the "Fundamentals" camp on Saturday at Hildebrand Ranch in Denver, Colorado. We were...
My adult son and I participated in the "Fundamentals" camp on Saturday at Hildebrand Ranch in Denver, Colorado. We were both very pleased with the clinic and would highly recommend it to anyone who has recently started riding full suspension mountain bikes. We have already been back out on the single-track trails practicing what we learned in the clinic. Aaron and Richard did a great job breaking down all the fundamentals and honestly amazed at the impact on my riding. Still have a lot to work on but if I follow the instructions I can improve my riding. We are both scheduled to attend a two day clinic in Santa Fe with Richard and looking forward to taking our riding to the next level. If you want to improve your skills, don't hesitate to sign up for the next skills clinic in your area. ~Dan Mitchell
My brain is still swelling with knowledge one month later.
I had a great time at a 3 day camp in Big Bear, CA and my brain is still swelling...
I had a great time at a 3 day camp in Big Bear, CA and my brain is still swelling with knowledge one month later. Not knowing what to expect, I was pleased with the professionalism and detail that Richard and his team brought to camp. They not only take the time to teach you great MTB skills, but when and why you should use them. They begin with the fundamentals skills and reinforce those skills throughout the camp, which I found quite helpful. The skills progress quickly and we covered a lot of ground in three days. I was able to do a few skills I had never really tried before by the end of camp. I recommend highly and plan to attend another camp in the future. ~Joey W.
I'm a road Triathlete that lucked into a XTERRA World Championship slot via the lottery last year. Being a road...
I'm a road Triathlete that lucked into a XTERRA World Championship slot via the lottery last year. Being a road triathlete, I had very little experience and no technical skills on a mountain bike. I took the Ninja beginner and then intermediate classes almost back to back. Richard is a great teacher, and taught the sequential skills that matter most. He does a great job of "breaking things down" with the what and the why, and illustrates the information well with his demonstrations, all the while, delivering it with a sense of humor and enthusiasm. Richard's instruction helped me successfully get through a very technical course in Maui without major injury! Yea, thank you Richard!!. Whether a complete beginner or an advanced rider, I promise you can take a lot away from his classes.... and, let's be honest ...Who doesn't want to be a Ninja! ~ Ray S.