Should you ride over, through or around that obstacle?
What’s the cost associated with each of these options? The reality is we hit 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.
It was very professional and at the same time really fun!
The intermediate and advanced clinic was very helpful and effective. Easy to follow, a lot of information but somehow I...
The intermediate and advanced clinic was very helpful and effective. Easy to follow, a lot of information but somehow I was able to retain it. I think because the instructors present it well. It was very professional and at the same time really fun! ~ Karen B.
Thanks Richard for this awesome clinic. Went back to basic fundamentals and through the repetitiveness of each section, it helped...
Thanks Richard for this awesome clinic. Went back to basic fundamentals and through the repetitiveness of each section, it helped build confidence & speed! More drops please! ha! ha! Had fun at the same time and a great workout! I definitely recommend and will do again! ~Robbyn E.
I was able to participate in the Sedona 2 day skills camp this past weekend run by Richard and his...
I was able to participate in the Sedona 2 day skills camp this past weekend run by Richard and his team and I was absolutely blown away with the outstanding quality and attention given to me to help improve my riding and skills. Richard is a class act and not only has a wonderful ability to teach and instill you with confidence but also keep you humble so you stay safe and don't tackle a skill your not yet ready to conquer. I will no doubt soon be looking to attend my next Ninja camp so I can continue to take my riding to the Ninja level !!! ~Chance Bex
I took the fundamentals 1/2 day works shop in Orange County this weekend and l learned way more than I...
I took the fundamentals 1/2 day works shop in Orange County this weekend and l learned way more than I thought possible. Richard and his team of instructor reinforced all the information with practical application on the mountain. Thus, I was able to put these new skills to practice immediately after the workshop with a post workshop ride and a follow up ride today. I feel more confident and safe to try more technical routes now. I have already signed up for a intermediate/advanced workshop and recruited 3 friends to joint me! ~Eric R.
I felt so confident that I recently signed up for the Catalina MTB Gran Fondo!
I participated in the beginner skill clinic at Malibu Creek last Saturday, because I'm truly a beginner who couldn't stop...
I participated in the beginner skill clinic at Malibu Creek last Saturday, because I'm truly a beginner who couldn't stop falling down during each mtb ride. The class was small and super fun...and the instructors (Richard and Kris) were informative and dynamic. The clinic was small enough for each member to practice each learned skill and receive immediate feedback. I learned many new skills on that day and felt much more confident with my bike-body connection. I felt so confident that I recently signed up for the Catalina MTB Gran Fondo...the 55 mile route! Woohooo!! The next day, as I was road biking (training for the Solvang Double Century), I dodged a bullet on the Snake/Mulholland by applying my learned mtb skills--a long towing truck went over almost half of our lane on a blind turn as we were descending. Instead of fixating on the truck, I remembered the importance of looking for a clear path and keeping my eyes on where I want to go....Now I understand what people meant when they said that mtb will help improve my road riding skills too! I'm grateful for the opportunity to learn, and I look forward to the next clinic! ~ Uyen N.