How to sail over wet roots

Joe Rafferty explains how to keep your cool and stay upright over these bad boys!

Riding wet roots can sometimes seem like the mountain bike equivalent of Russian roulette — you feel like it’s not a matter of if, but when, you’re going to hit the deck. Fortunately, good line choice, commitment and proper technique will help you clean them rubber side down.

1. Vision

Choose a straight line and aim your front wheel so it’s perpendicular to the biggest roots (i.e. hits them head on).

Try to avoid large diagonal roots, which will direct your tyres off the trail.

2. Momentum

Once you’re happy with your basic technique, try hitting root sections a touch faster.

Slowing down may help your confidence but it’s a bad idea because it means your tyres will be in contact with the slippery roots for longer.

3. Head up

Have confidence in your line choice and speed, then get your chin up and look over the roots at the trail ahead to help your balance.

4. Pressure control

Ride root sections more smoothly by unweighting your wheels individually as they hit large roots.

Do this by popping very small manuals and rear wheel lifts.

5. Balance

From a perfectly balanced body position it’s easier to recover a slip and your suspension will work better.

Support your weight with your legs, get your heels down and don’t hang back off your handlebar or lean back.

Stay loose and relaxed, otherwise you’ll ping off the roots rather than absorb them.

Advanced

Tyre pressure

On wet, sloppy trails, your average speed is generally lower than in the dry. Drop your pressures by 1-2psi so your tyres can deform more and therefore grip better in the wet conditions.

Bunnyhop

At high speeds you can bunnyhop to clear root sections. Use the first root to boost your front wheel into the air, then follow with your back wheel.

Just make sure you land clear of the roots on a good surface.

This article was originally published in Mountain Biking UK magazine, available on Apple Newsstand and Zinio.

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