Do you find yourself walking around a steep rock on the trail thinking, “How the heck do I ride down that?”. Have you had the very unpleasant experience of getting thrown forward while trying to roll down a short steep transition? If you answered yes to either of these, this is the skill for you! We present to you – The Roll Down.
The Roll Down is a save-your-you-know-what skill that that can be used on terrain that drops rapidly (up to a certain size – more on that in a moment), and when you want to keep your wheels on the ground. This is a descending skill that is typically done while riding at a slow(er) speed. The Roll Down allows you to stay in control, cool and calm.
Let’s get rolling!
1. Size it up
The Roll Down is not a one-size-fits-all skill. There is a limit to where you can use The Roll Down. The Roll Down technique can be used on a steep transition where your chain ring and bottom bracket will clear the obstacle. If the steep transition is too tall, your chain ring may clip the obstacle, hanging up your bike and sending you flying over the bars. The Roll Down is NOT the right tool for the job is we are talking about riding off a 10ft cliff.
To test your clearance and determine if The Roll Down is the right skill for the job, get off your bike and while holding onto your handlebars try rolling it down the obstacle with level pedals (to mimic how your feet will be positioned when riding). Does your chain ring clear the feature? If yes, you’re golden! If not, you are going to want to use a different, high speed skill to ride this feature.
When you first start riding steep transitions, you may want to get in the habit of getting off your bike to check your clearance as described above. Don’t worry, before you know it you’ll be able to “size up” a feature as you approach on your bike so you can flow right over and continue down the trail.
If you see a steep transition ahead on the trail, approach the feature in a ready position at a jogging or walking speed. You’ll want to have your speed set before you reach the transition and you should not be breaking or pedaling as you roll down. Stay relaxed in your ready position and be sure you have even weight in your pedals.
3. Roll Up
If the transition has a slight step up at the front, be sure to lighten the front wheel to allow it to easily roll onto the top of the object. Being relaxed in the arms and legs is mega-important. Breathe. Breathe. Breathe.
As you reach the top of the transition, raise up into a high ready position to look at the feature – – and look to see what’s on the other side! We sometimes refer to this as the “peak”. Don’t like what you see? This is your last chance to bail. If you do not want to ride the transition, apply your breaks and firmly plant a foot. If all looks good and you are ready to ride the transition, it’s time for the next step – the PUSH!
At the exact moment your front wheels start to roll over the transition, push your handlebars down AND forward. You should already be in a high ready position which gives you plenty of range of motion in your arms for this movement. This should be a quick and explosive movement that will push your front wheel forward and down the back side of the rocks while simultaneously allowing your weight to be back behind your saddle. Think of this as you telling your bike exactly where you want it to go – show that bike you mean business!
If you find yourself being pulled down by your front wheel (you’ll feel like a bobble head doll), you need to either push more explosively, or you need to adjust the timing to better line up with the edge of the obstacle.
As your rear wheel transitions down the backside of the obstacle, bring your weight forward in order to return even weight to both of your wheels. Keep your head up and looking ahead. This recovery step is SUPER important. If you stay in the “push” position (aft on the bike), your arms would be locked out, preventing you from properly absorbing even the smallest rocks or obstacles on the trail below the drop. You also run the risk of looping over backwards if you don’t quickly recover back to your ready position – yikes!
So there you have it – no more walking around steep transitions or getting caught by surprise. As you learn The Roll Down, start by practicing on something small with a smooth exit such as a curb. From there, build up gradually to larger obstacles. Happy rolling, Ninjas!
G2 Bike looks forward to many more of these clinics in this area.
Ninja Mountain Bike Skills is a warm and friendly environment to learn new skills and hone ones you already know....
Ninja Mountain Bike Performance
Ninja Mountain Bike Skills is a warm and friendly environment to learn new skills and hone ones you already know. It's a non intimidating environment where mistakes are welcomed so corrections can be made. I own G2 Bike is Aliso Viejo and this clinic has been ran out of the Aliso Woods area and when I interviewed the clients they had all but great things to say. None arrogant instructors and easy to follow steps. The biggest bang for many was meeting new area riders at their skill level, gaining confidence, and getting the bike set up and fit properly. G2 Bike looks forward to many more of these clinics in this area. Thanks Richard for all you do for the MTB community! ~ AJ S.
I’m so glad I made the decision to be part of the Mulberry Gap 3-day clinic.
I'm so glad I made the decision to be part of the Mulberry Gap 3-day clinic. Richard and Randy are...
Ninja Mountain Bike Performance
I'm so glad I made the decision to be part of the Mulberry Gap 3-day clinic. Richard and Randy are really skilled at breaking things down, very patient and kind. They were very attentive to what each of us needed individually while maintaining a no-pressure, fun vibe. The place is beautiful, rustic and offers a great opportunity to unplug. It's the seemingly little things that make a big difference in your riding, and I feel like I gained some useful insight about not only being on the bike, but set-up and nutrition as well. ~Susan Tully
Highly recommended! Essential riding skills are thoroughly broken down making them easy to understand and learn. Coach Richard and Kris...
Ninja Mountain Bike Performance
Highly recommended! Essential riding skills are thoroughly broken down making them easy to understand and learn. Coach Richard and Kris are some of the most professional and pleasant coaches/cyclist/people I have come across. Looking forward to one of their future clinics. ~ Tom T.
We are a group of passionate, dirt-loving, community oriented, world class mountain bike skills instructors committed to helping you reach your personal riding goals through clinics and camps. We are excited to work with riders of all ability levels and share the joy (STOKE) of mountain biking.