How to flatten rock gardens

Show the boulders who’s boss with these tips from pro mountain bike racer and coach Al Bond

Ride over those rocks with ease

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Riding rock gardens well requires a mixture of looseness and strength, fluidity and stability. You need to remain mobile on the bike to deal with the changing terrain beneath your wheels.

But if you hit something you’re not expecting, you need to be in a strong enough position so that you can absorb it with your hands, wrists and feet.

1. Eyes up

Look for the exit of the rock garden as you enter it and remain focused on where you want to go as you ride through the section. Keep your head up and arms dropped down behind the handlebar.

You need to be braced into the bike, rather than over it or above it, to stop any unexpected impacts from pitching you forwards and over the bars.

2. Bum back

Drop your heels and keep your bottom as far back over the rear wheel as possible. Rocks can move around or knock you off your line, so you need to be braced and ready for things to change.

3. Balancing act

In rock gardens where the rocks move as you ride over them, you need to do some balancing with your body to keep your bike heading towards the exit.

Use weight shifts to work around any rocks that are changing position, while keeping your bike pointing straight.

4. Control your speed

Jabbing your brakes on will disrupt the balance of the bike. By feathering them you can still control your speed without causing the bike to pitch forwards or the tyres to lock up.

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5. Hip it!

If the rocks are on a camber, point your hips up the slope to keep the bike tracking straight. Weight the outside pedal, by dropping your heel, and you’ll sail across the rocks.