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.
They’ve helped build my confidence and competence!
Coming from a triathlon background I had spent most of my time on the road, though I did have a...
Coming from a triathlon background I had spent most of my time on the road, though I did have a few seasons of cyclocross under my belt. I was a novice mountain biker with just enough confidence to get myself into trouble on the trails. I started by attending the free Tuesday night mountain bike workouts at Balboa Park, led by Coach Richard. While these are primarily geared toward building fitness, we learned some skills tips and I met some cool folks. Since then I've taken the intermediate and advanced skills clinics, as well as raced a couple times. Coaches Richard and Kris are great at instruction, which is not easy. Most great riders cannot teach others to do the same, but these two are exceptional at it. They've helped build my confidence and competence. In fact they have taken time during weekday and weekend rides to help give me pointers! I joined Team Ninja to train and race with this fun crew and would highly advise you check them out! ~Henry H.
All in all, you couldn’t get more for your money than this clinic.
This clinic was PERFECT for me…as a very experienced roadie but pure beginner on MTBs, Richard’s instruction was clear, detailed,...
This clinic was PERFECT for me…as a very experienced roadie but pure beginner on MTBs, Richard’s instruction was clear, detailed, and specific, so that I could start to get the feel of how to work effectively on trails instead of asphalt. Jeff (a former elite cyclocross racer) also joined us and added some solid hints and comments. All in all, you couldn’t get more for your money than this clinic. ~ Mike Sofen
I highly recommend their skills camps, and plan on attending more …
I've been a recreational mountain bike rider for a few years, and have been riding on single track, but never...
I've been a recreational mountain bike rider for a few years, and have been riding on single track, but never had any formal training. I just finished the weekend skills course in Irvine, CA with Richard, Randy and Daniel as the instructors. They are excellent instructors breaking every fundamental skill down, demonstrating the skill and then evaluating your practice runs with constructive criticism before applying the skills on the trails. Even though I have been riding single track for a few years, I quickly found out that I have been doing many things if not everything wrong, which means the people I ride with are doing it wrong too. Richard, Randy and Daniel are very patient and professional encouraging every student no matter what the age or gender (our class had males and females from late 20s to late 50s). They went over everything from bike set up, basic position, turning, high speed cornering, wheels lifts to you name it. If you have a desire to improve your skill then Ninja Mountain Bike Performance are the team to go to! I highly recommend their skills camps, and plan on attending more of their camps in the future. ~Kyle Kimm
Just finished the Intermediate/Advanced course. I had previously taken the Beginning course about a year ago. I was not disappointed....
Just finished the Intermediate/Advanced course. I had previously taken the Beginning course about a year ago. I was not disappointed. The preparation and lesson planning is great. Instructors seem to be everywhere providing input and excellent advice. Both groups had a wide range of skilled riders, but the team made everyone welcome and everyone learned important new skills. This training makes everyday more fun on my bike. DAY 2: Just rode one of my "regular" morning workout routes. 2 PR's - and I thought I was just cruising. I was making no effort to ride fast... just smooth like I was taught. ~Peter O.
….and I thought I already knew how to corner (ha, ha!)!
Congrats to Richard, Hannah, Bernadette, Cory, Shana and company for a great clinic covering many skills, all practical, in a...
Congrats to Richard, Hannah, Bernadette, Cory, Shana and company for a great clinic covering many skills, all practical, in a great environment for learning . Your professionalism, skill and experience in teaching, choice of terrain to teach in, and enthusiasm all made this a totally worthwhile experience. I would do it again and again as you never stop learning. ....and I thought I already knew how to corner (ha, ha!)! ~James Crawford
We are a group of passionate, dirt-loving, community oriented, world class instructors committed to helping you reach your personal riding goals. We are excited to work with riders of all ability levels and share the joy (STOKE) of mountain biking.