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  1. #1
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    Rough Trail Riding Techniques

    Okay so where i ride, there can be as much smooth wooded ares as there heavily rooted areas. I know how to ride the smoother areas and im getting quite fast on the roots, but let me know if my technique is right cus this is what i do.

    Most of the roots i take are down a steep incline. They are like going down a steep set of stairs, only unprodicable.

    I currently move my weight (My Butt) more over the rear wheel, keep a light grip on the handle bars, and then point my bike in the direction in the way of where im going when im trying to clear the steep rooty decline. Im mostly showing the bike where to go, and letting the fork soak up the impacts.

    Is this correct? And if there is anything else to ad, please let me know... Thanks

  2. #2
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    sounds like you've got the technique down...

    as long as you're not falling and are making it down the incline you're good. if you want to get faster, try without brakes...he he he!
    I just like riding my mountain bike.

  3. #3
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    Ha ha yea im trying to get it smoother, and faster. So if i do as i stated above should my bike be able to basically do the work for me?

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by wildkyle90
    Ha ha yea im trying to get it smoother, and faster. So if i do as i stated above should my bike be able to basically do the work for me?
    Exactly, you should guide the bike, but let it move independently from your body. Sounds like you are doing this

  5. #5
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    I try and think of it this way, if you were to place one hand one the saddle standing by the bike and gently push would it roll down? if so then all you have to do is not interfere with this process! So yes weight to the back and no sudden movements. You be surprised what you can roll down.

  6. #6
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    I also find it helpful to not "focus/lock-in" on a given obstacle. I choose my line and keep looking ahead.

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    yes i set my line, depending on what im riding, and try to follow it. Usually the bike follows it haha

  8. #8
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    wildkyle90 - "a light grip on the handle bars"

    not sure i would do this on a rooted downhill. any slight jerk of the front wheel one way or the other can take the bars out of your hands.
    i`m not saying i use a death grip but, i make sure i have the front of the bike in control at all times.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by Flat Ark
    I also find it helpful to not "focus/lock-in" on a given obstacle. I choose my line and keep looking ahead.
    That's one of the problems I have..

    I always end up hitting the exact line I was trying to avoid.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dr Shifty
    all you have to do is not interfere
    Same idea as in this clip (although this is not XC...)

    <object width="464" height="392"><param name="movie" value="http://embed.break.com/NDExNjU2"></param><embed src="http://embed.break.com/NDExNjU2" type="application/x-shockwave-flash" width="464" height="392"></embed></object><br><font size=1><a href="http://www.break.com/index/bike-finishes-race-without-rider.html">Bike Finishes Race Without Rider</a> - Watch more <a href="http://www.break.com/">free videos</a></font>

  11. #11
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    The other thing you might do is take the Geoff Kabush Challenge and try wider bars to improve the leverage. He found that his speed in technical DH sections of XC courses improved dramatically this year with a wider bar and that was where he had been losing time. I think he's running something crazy wide like a 710mm bar, but he's a tall guy with a huge wingspan so a 660mm or 685mm low rise bar might be a sensible thing to try. I switched from a 600mm bar to a 660mm bar and found a huge improvement in handling confidence when pointed downhill.
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  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by giantbldrse
    wildkyle90 - "a light grip on the handle bars"

    not sure i would do this on a rooted downhill. any slight jerk of the front wheel one way or the other can take the bars out of your hands.
    i`m not saying i use a death grip but, i make sure i have the front of the bike in control at all times.
    No its not that loose, but loose enough i sorta let the front tire guide me. Not that im going to let it guide me where i shouldnt go, but you get the picure

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by wildkyle90
    Okay so where i ride, there can be as much smooth wooded ares as there heavily rooted areas. I know how to ride the smoother areas and im getting quite fast on the roots, but let me know if my technique is right cus this is what i do.

    Most of the roots i take are down a steep incline. They are like going down a steep set of stairs, only unprodicable.

    I currently move my weight (My Butt) more over the rear wheel, keep a light grip on the handle bars, and then point my bike in the direction in the way of where im going when im trying to clear the steep rooty decline. Im mostly showing the bike where to go, and letting the fork soak up the impacts.

    Is this correct? And if there is anything else to ad, please let me know... Thanks

    Sounds good, try steering from the hips as well, kinda like you are riding with no hands.

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by jeffscott
    Sounds good, try steering from the hips as well, kinda like you are riding with no hands.
    thanks for that advice, im going to try that

  15. #15
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    These guys are pretty good at riding rough trails:
    <object width="425" height="344"><param name="movie" value="http://www.youtube.com/v/Bmlessj_oVc&hl=en_US&fs=1&"></param><param name="allowFullScreen" value="true"></param><param name="allowscriptaccess" value="always"></param><embed src="http://www.youtube.com/v/Bmlessj_oVc&hl=en_US&fs=1&" type="application/x-shockwave-flash" allowscriptaccess="always" allowfullscreen="true" width="425" height="344"></embed></object>

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by flargle
    These guys are pretty good at riding rough trails:
    <object width="425" height="344"><param name="movie" value="http://www.youtube.com/v/Bmlessj_oVc&hl=en_US&fs=1&"></param><param name="allowFullScreen" value="true"></param><param name="allowscriptaccess" value="always"></param><embed src="http://www.youtube.com/v/Bmlessj_oVc&hl=en_US&fs=1&" type="application/x-shockwave-flash" allowscriptaccess="always" allowfullscreen="true" width="425" height="344"></embed></object>

    yea, i`d say.

  17. #17
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    8" of suspension travel sure helps.

    Here's some better examples of XC race descending

    http://freecaster.tv/mtb/1007115/nis...-offenburg-xco

    http://freecaster.tv/mtb/1007119/nis...xco-highlights
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  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by rockyuphill
    8" of suspension travel sure helps.
    I knew some dweeb would come whining with that cop-out.

    As if those guys wouldn't rip with 4", or even no inches, of travel.

  19. #19
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    The ability to be smooth in rough is what separates riders.

    My advice is:
    1. Jumping is just about always the smoothest way.

    2. Start with a neutral stance and stand tall on the bike. As you go through rough section slowly move to a squatted stance to float the bike, when ever you get to a smooth section stand tall again.

    3. Don't shift your weight back until it is absolutely necessary. Once your weight is back you have made your move all you can do is hang on and hope for the best.

    4. Speed is your friend, the faster you are going the smoother the trail is.

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by wildkyle90
    Okay so where i ride, there can be as much smooth wooded ares as there heavily rooted areas. I know how to ride the smoother areas and im getting quite fast on the roots, but let me know if my technique is right cus this is what i do.

    Most of the roots i take are down a steep incline. They are like going down a steep set of stairs, only unprodicable.

    I currently move my weight (My Butt) more over the rear wheel, keep a light grip on the handle bars, and then point my bike in the direction in the way of where im going when im trying to clear the steep rooty decline. Im mostly showing the bike where to go, and letting the fork soak up the impacts.

    Is this correct? And if there is anything else to ad, please let me know... Thanks

    Id say your riding style is very similar to mine. As flat ark stated dont focus on one obstical on the trail. When im doing down a steep rocky decent im hanging my butt out over the rear tire looking approx 8-10 ft in front of me choosing my line and doing my best to keep the bike aimed to that line. as long as im looking were i want the bike to go far enough out in front of me i can usually get the line i want

  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by rockyuphill
    8" of suspension travel sure helps.
    Yea, and it helps to have an 18 pound bike to race XC.

  22. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by bad news
    Yea, and it helps to have an 18 pound bike to race XC.
    I was referring to the bikes in the Isle of Skye DH video post. It is easy to pick a smooth line on a bike with 8" travel, it's always just straight ahead. Not representative of the technique it takes to ride an XC bike down technical descents.
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  23. #23
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    It does not necessarily take a lot of suspension travel to ride rough spots. In a race, picking the difiicult line might not be the smart thing, if you have a choice. The rough spots tire you and there is a bigger risk of crashing there.

    <object width="425" height="344"><param name="movie" value="http://www.youtube.com/v/wv7TyakE8qw&hl=en&fs=1&"></param><param name="allowFullScreen" value="true"></param><param name="allowscriptaccess" value="always"></param><embed src="http://www.youtube.com/v/wv7TyakE8qw&hl=en&fs=1&" type="application/x-shockwave-flash" allowscriptaccess="always" allowfullscreen="true" width="425" height="344"></embed></object>

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wv7TyakE8qw

  24. #24
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    I will tell you what I do, same as ridding my MX bike, grip with your inner thighs. When I stand and I am descending a fast tech section I grip my seat with my thighs, try it adds alot of control.

  25. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by rockyuphill
    I was referring to the bikes in the Isle of Skye DH video post. It is easy to pick a smooth line on a bike with 8" travel, it's always just straight ahead. Not representative of the technique it takes to ride an XC bike down technical descents.
    Of course, that's why it's so easy for anyone to do well racing downhill. Buy yourself a big bike and ride straight down the trail and onto the podium.

    I have been feeling as of late that I'm not carrying the speed I should through corners on descents so I read the downhill - freeride forum for tips and info and guess what? The techniques described in there work just fine on my trail bike.

    You can learn something from almost anyone (even if, in some cases, it's what not to do).

  26. #26
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    I think after rethinking my previous post it is more of rider preferance
    Last edited by KrazyKessler; 11-19-2009 at 09:55 AM.

  27. #27
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    Quote Originally Posted by ErickKTM
    I will tell you what I do, same as ridding my MX bike, grip with your inner thighs. When I stand and I am descending a fast tech section I grip my seat with my thighs, try it adds alot of control.
    Really? That's appropriate for the moto because you want to make yourself one with the big, heavy bike that you're on top of. For mountain bikes you want to do the exact opposite. Keep a comfortable stance with your legs clear of the seat so that the bike can move around underneath you. Gripping the seat is NOT recommended.

  28. #28
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    Quote Originally Posted by perttime
    It does not necessarily take a lot of suspension travel to ride rough spots. In a race, picking the difiicult line might not be the smart thing, if you have a choice. The rough spots tire you and there is a bigger risk of crashing there.

    <object width="425" height="344"><param name="movie" value="http://www.youtube.com/v/wv7TyakE8qw&hl=en&fs=1&"></param><param name="allowFullScreen" value="true"></param><param name="allowscriptaccess" value="always"></param><embed src="http://www.youtube.com/v/wv7TyakE8qw&hl=en&fs=1&" type="application/x-shockwave-flash" allowscriptaccess="always" allowfullscreen="true" width="425" height="344"></embed></object>

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wv7TyakE8qw
    That video is amazing! What a skilled rider...just goes to show you, you don't need dual suspension!
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  29. #29
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    Quote Originally Posted by rockyuphill
    I was referring to the bikes in the Isle of Skye DH video post. It is easy to pick a smooth line on a bike with 8" travel, it's always just straight ahead. Not representative of the technique it takes to ride an XC bike down technical descents.
    When you go to DH racing, it's not just the suspension travel that increases.... Obstacles are bigger, and speeds are higher. (stating the obvious)

    Notice in the video how even though their bikes have a lot of travel, their arms and legs are still doing a huge amount of work to absorb impacts and make things look easy.

    If anything, I think that one of the more notable things that separates DH descending from XC descending is the seat height. Due to the high saddle position on a XC bike, body positioning differs quite a bit.
    When under pressure, your level of performance will sink to your level of preparation.

  30. #30
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    Quote Originally Posted by rkj__
    When you go to DH racing, it's not just the suspension travel that increases.... Obstacles are bigger, and speeds are higher. (stating the obvious)

    Notice in the video how even though their bikes have a lot of travel, their arms and legs are still doing a huge amount of work to absorb impacts and make things look easy.

    If anything, I think that one of the more notable things that separates DH descending from XC descending is the seat height. Due to the high saddle position on a XC bike, body positioning differs quite a bit.

    You know what after I read more and more of these post I'm thinking I'm more of a dh guy hence the terrain I ride and how I have my bike set up my seat post is cut off low enough that it is dropped as low as it can be into the frame
    Last edited by KrazyKessler; 11-17-2009 at 07:06 PM.

  31. #31
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    Quote Originally Posted by flargle
    I knew some dweeb would come whining with that cop-out.

    As if those guys wouldn't rip with 4", or even no inches, of travel.
    It is a wicked video. But on a DH bike those are not rough trails.

    I don't know how much time you have spent on a DH bike, but trails that jack hammer me to death on my XC bike I can pedal full out on a DH bike.

    On my XC bike I routinely ride trails at my skill limit, it is taking all I have to ride that trail at that speed. On a DH bike I never come anywhere near my skill limit, the bike does so much that trail has to be really nasty and I have to be going really fast to be at my limit.

    Give Rocky some credit his home trails are way rougher and way nastier then what most of us ride.

  32. #32
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    Quote Originally Posted by XCFred
    you don't need dual suspension!
    I enjoy riding my hardtails. But we have to admit: FS can make things easier and less tiring. That may make a difference in a XC race too, if placing well matters.

  33. #33
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    Quote Originally Posted by LMN
    The ability to be smooth in rough is what separates riders.

    My advice is:
    1. Jumping is just about always the smoothest way.

    2. Start with a neutral stance and stand tall on the bike. As you go through rough section slowly move to a squatted stance to float the bike, when ever you get to a smooth section stand tall again.

    3. Don't shift your weight back until it is absolutely necessary. Once your weight is back you have made your move all you can do is hang on and hope for the best.

    4. Speed is your friend, the faster you are going the smoother the trail is.
    I really agree with this, especially point 1! So many XC riders don't know how to bunnyhop a root/rock section. In the same vein, we can learn a lot from DH technique, pumping the terrain is also a very valuable skill that will help you float over rough sections and keep your speed and momentum.

    This year I've been experiencing with these techniques and it helps a lot. I suggest you try it out! Maybe find a pumptrack and figure out the technique, then apply on the trails!
    Check out my SportTracks plugins for some training aid software.

  34. #34
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    Quote Originally Posted by rkj__
    When you go to DH racing, it's not just the suspension travel that increases.... Obstacles are bigger, and speeds are higher. (stating the obvious)

    Notice in the video how even though their bikes have a lot of travel, their arms and legs are still doing a huge amount of work to absorb impacts and make things look easy.

    If anything, I think that one of the more notable things that separates DH descending from XC descending is the seat height. Due to the high saddle position on a XC bike, body positioning differs quite a bit.

    Yeah know what after I read more and more of these post I'm thinking I'm more of a dh guy hence the terrain I ride and how I have my bike set up my seat post is cut off low enough that it is dropped as low as it can be into the frame

  35. #35
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    Quote Originally Posted by ebarker9
    Really? That's appropriate for the moto because you want to make yourself one with the big, heavy bike that you're on top of. For mountain bikes you want to do the exact opposite. Keep a comfortable stance with your legs clear of the seat so that the bike can move around underneath you. Gripping the seat is NOT recommended.
    Have you tryed it? I am all about being in contact and controlling of the bike. It really works good in high speed/rough areas when you don't need to get off the back as much. Large obsticals ect, yes you have to let the bike pivot under you.

    I also always downhill or do obsticals with my left foot forward.

  36. #36
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    Quote Originally Posted by ErickKTM
    Have you tryed it? I am all about being in contact and controlling of the bike. It really works good in high speed/rough areas when you don't need to get off the back as much. Large obsticals ect, yes you have to let the bike pivot under you.

    I also always downhill or do obsticals with my left foot forward.
    Yes I have, for about 15 years. And according to the instruction I got from a Masters DH World Champ, you want to have the bike move around under you and keep your legs away from the saddle. It's a lot more difficult for your legs to absorb the bumps and to lean the bike into turns when they're pressed in against the saddle.

  37. #37
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    There's no such thing as a technique that is ideal for every situation.

    Take the thing about having your outer pedal down in a turn: it does not always work. For one thing, it restricts your ability to absorb bumps.

    Or hanging over the rear wheel as soon as the trail points down a hill. If I went all the way back for this one steepish spot, I'd have no way to pull the front up for the last half a meter (not quite 2') that gets closer to vertical before leveling out suddenly.

  38. #38
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    Quote Originally Posted by ErickKTM
    Have you tryed it? I am all about being in contact and controlling of the bike. It really works good in high speed/rough areas when you don't need to get off the back as much. Large obsticals ect, yes you have to let the bike pivot under you.

    I also always downhill or do obsticals with my left foot forward.
    Yeah, I've tried riding that way. There may be some situations for which it's advantageous that I'm just not thinking of now, but it felt pretty uncontrolled on anything other than a perfectly smooth path. All of those little trail imperfections that the bike will handle just fine when it's free to do its own thing end up getting transmitted to you when you try to really grip the bike. You want to project your body down the trail and let the bike bounce around on its own. Watch slow motion footage of a good DH'er and the bike is all over the place, but their body is nice and stable.

    Now, there's obviously a lot more to it than this. You want to actively weight and unweight the tires depending on the terrain for better control and traction, but that's another topic.

  39. #39
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    Quote Originally Posted by rockyuphill
    8" of suspension travel sure helps.

    Here's some better examples of XC race descending

    http://freecaster.tv/mtb/1007115/nis...-offenburg-xco

    http://freecaster.tv/mtb/1007119/nis...xco-highlights

    sweet vids

  40. #40
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    Quote Originally Posted by rockyuphill
    Here's some better examples of XC race descending

    http://freecaster.tv/mtb/1007115/nis...-offenburg-xco
    How to Descend on Smooth Jeep Road

  41. #41
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    Typical North Vancouver XC trail section, Bridle Path... (part of BC Bike Race this year), typically ridden up and down.

    On a freeride bike, rides like pavement.

    On a 6x6 AM bike, rides like smooth jeep road descent.

    On an XC bike you have to pay a lot more attention.
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails Rough Trail Riding Techniques-xc-trail.jpg  

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  42. #42
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    Quote Originally Posted by flargle
    I knew some dweeb would come whining with that cop-out.

    As if those guys wouldn't rip with 4", or even no inches, of travel.
    Just like every DH rider thinks it's all rider. You're right - those guys could do that on a hard tail with a 100mm fork. It's the rider. And then they could jump on a 20lb. XC bike and ride back up.

  43. #43
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    Quote Originally Posted by flargle
    These guys are pretty good at riding rough trails:
    that was sweet! thanks for posting! looks alot like just rolling and gliding...

    would like to have one of those bikes...my next will be a full suspension...so long as I can save up enough $$$
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  44. #44
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    Quote Originally Posted by perttime
    It does not necessarily take a lot of suspension travel to ride rough spots. In a race, picking the difiicult line might not be the smart thing, if you have a choice. The rough spots tire you and there is a bigger risk of crashing there.

    <object width="425" height="344"><param name="movie" value="http://www.youtube.com/v/wv7TyakE8qw&hl=en&fs=1&"></param><param name="allowFullScreen" value="true"></param><param name="allowscriptaccess" value="always"></param><embed src="http://www.youtube.com/v/wv7TyakE8qw&hl=en&fs=1&" type="application/x-shockwave-flash" allowscriptaccess="always" allowfullscreen="true" width="425" height="344"></embed></object>

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wv7TyakE8qw
    That guy is badass! And he did it all in skinny jeans,lol Anybody know what size bars he's running, they look huge.

  45. #45
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    Quote Originally Posted by bigherc
    That guy is badass! And he did it all in skinny jeans,lol Anybody know what size bars he's running, they look huge.
    The DH/FR crowd seemed to appreciate his riding too, and someone got the bike spec. The bar is a Chromag Fubar 30".

    Hardtail + Whistler =

  46. #46
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    To Perttime,

    That is amazing! hardtail pride

  47. #47
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    Hey, I only posted a video of a guy who rides his hardtail much better than I do mine...

  48. #48
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    Reputation: FortOrdDirt's Avatar
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    And thank you for doing so

  49. #49
    ups and downs
    Reputation: rockyuphill's Avatar
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    Or how about someone riding a Chromag hardtail at the Psychosis DH race at Mount Seven in Golden, BC

    I'm a member of NSMBA and IMBA Canada

  50. #50
    mtbr member
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    Well I haven't seen anyone mention big cojones yet. It sounds like you understand the technique. Now just let go of those brakes over the rough sections--speed is your friend as LMN suggested--and use the smoother sections to shed speed.

    Of course it is easier said than done when you are pushing your limits. But over time the rough, technical sections that scared the crap out of you will eventually feel easy.

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