Rock (Squirrel?) Dodge Technique

Have you ever been riding down the trail, turned your front wheel to avoid a large rock and then BUMP, your back wheel hits that same darn rock you were trying to avoid?  As you’ve likely figured out, the back wheel doesn’t follow the same path as your front wheel when turning.  The Solution? Introducing the Rock Dodge!

The Rock Dodge is a sharp, short turn used for avoiding a rock, sharp stick, pesky squirrel or other small obstacles you might encounter on the trail.

When done successfully,  your front wheel will pass on one side of the obstacle and your back wheel will pass on the other side.   The obstacle passes under your down-tube between your tires. You ride away without losing momentum, puncturing a tire or squashing a critter.

This is a low-speed skill and is most often used while climbing singletrack.  Mastering the rock dodge will allow you to hone in on precise movements, keep you in full control of your bike, and make technical climbing that much easier. We can all use a little love on the climbs, am I right?

1. Start Flat

The best place to practice this skills is on a flat, relatively open area.

2. Identify Obstacle

Determine which obstacle you’re going to rock dodge – we recommend starting with something small.  Be sure to look past the obstacle to make sure your exit is inline with the direction you intend to ride.

3. Aim For It

Ride right toward the obstacle — get close!

4. Wait For it

Right as your back wheel passes the obstacle, quickly and sharply turn your front wheel around it and quickly and then back towards the direction you’d like to continue riding.

5. Smooth

After your complete your rock dodge, make sure to get your eyes back up and ready for whatever’s next on the trail.

6. Practice!

Once you get proficient on flat ground, progress to an up-sloping area then eventually to a climbing, technical single track.  Try rock dodging larger obstacles or multiple obstacles in a row.

Happy Dodging!


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.

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