How do you ride ENDLESS rock gardens?- Mtbr.com
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  1. #1
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    How do you ride ENDLESS rock gardens?

    Okay...i'm still a noob at this, and (I admit) I'm impatient. I'm riding some reasonably tough trails, I'm actually getting fairly good at getting over logs no higher than my axle and even bunny hopping small obstacles...but one thing is still kicking my butt: riding continuous, nonstop rock gardens!

    Now I wanna be clear about what I mean (in this context) when I say "rock gardens." I'm not talking about babyheads---I actually don't mind those. And i'm not talking about REALLY big, trials-sized boulders that are 3-4 feet high.

    I'm talking about trails where it's nothing for hundreds of yards but what I call "pumpkinheads," or rocks the size of a good-sized pumpkin completely filling the trail from edge to edge...and without enough room to ride between them.

    These kinds of trails completely piss me off and baffle me. People say "get light" over this kind of stuff, but I frankly think that's BS. I've thought about this a lot, and it seems that...

    ...when the pumpkinheads are spaced far enough apart not to be able to ride smoothly over them...but are also close enough that you can't build momentum between them...what do you do?

    Also...when there is not enough space between them for a clear "maneuvering path" between the rocks...what do you do?

    It seems almost impossible to me to get any kind of flow going...and momentum is incredibly difficult because you are constantly getting up and over a rock.

    I'm coming to the conclusion that you basically have one option, which is power over and through them. But of course the key there is "power." Remember---we're not talking about a short stretch of this stuff...but when the trail is nothing but this stuff for miles. So if you don't have the leg strength to muscle through this stuff, it seems like you're screwed!

    I could well be wrong...but I'm willing to bet that this kind of riding is the toughest there is---harder than sand, harder than mega-roots, harder than large bedrock slabs. And there are thousands of miles of trails just like this throughout the Appalachian Mountains.

    So I'd be grateful if the experts here could either confirm what i'm saying and say "Yeah, it sucks, you just got to deal with it" or give us the secret to "tip-toeing through endless rock gardens with ease!"

    And BTW, I **do** think that rider weight makes a big difference in these situations. Because I'm convinced that even though their muscle mass may be less, small skinny light people have a much easier time in endless rock gardens than giant, 225lb riders (which is me). I just think it's one of those situations where a lower overall mass has the advantage.

    Scott

  2. #2
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    sounds like more trouble than it's worth, Noob here also and if I can't keep riding and have to keep putting my feet down then it's no fun....that trail sounds like no fun (at least for me), or more like trials....

  3. #3
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    No secret to it , it sucks . Sounds like you need to find different trails to ride or possibly organize some trail work parties .

  4. #4
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    Really???

    I guess I better help clarify this with some photos (I'll see if I can post a few). Because I've suffered through stuff like this and heard other MTBers actually say (about the same section of trail) things like...

    "Oh, it was no biggie." or...
    "Yeah I rode right through that." or...
    "Nah, none of it really gave me a problem."



    Is this all just a bunch of "selective memory" at work, where MTBers conveniently forget about those sections they had to walk or cussed out loud while they were riding? LOL

    I'll try to find some pics...

    Scott

  5. #5
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    we have those kinds of trails here but not for miles...maybe a few hundred yards.

    you just have to get better at powering through them. once you lose momentum you have to figure out if you want to hike it or try again.

    some of the guys i ride with are also practicing with a trials bike. if they lose momentum, they can stop, track stand, find a place to pedal out, and keep going.

    it takes a lot of practice and lots of endurance/patience.

    bike handling skills are pretty important when you get to this type of riding.

    good luck.
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  6. #6
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    We used to have a trail like your desciption "miles of rock garden" but after years of trail work its pretty buff now . First couple of years it sucked though , almost unrideable about 8 miles of it .

  7. #7
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    well.....as a general rule....the faster you go thru rough stuff the smoother it gets....and momentum is your friend...

    but....what you describe sounds 'big'ish'....and pretty long....pics would help.

    is it like this:

    photo credit: Steve Wolf

    or like this:

    photo credit: Steve Wolf
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  8. #8
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    I'll get some pics up soon, but I'm talking stuff even (to me) worse than either of those pics Chum.

    In pic "A" the rocks are big enough and far enough apart there's a path between them (but you obviously better be scanning ahead for that path as you ride)...

    In pic "B" that's no biggie 'cause right above & below that ledge rock it's relatively smooth, giving you those vital seconds needed to get your sh*t together before the next section!

    Looking for pics now...
    Scott

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by SWriverstone
    I'll get some pics up soon, but I'm talking stuff even (to me) worse than either of those pics Chum.....
    oh...i see....sounds pretty gnarly

    Pic A is the top of Saxon (Mr. Toads Wild Ride) in Tahoe....it's rideable....but a little hinky

    Pic B is the Pauley Creek trail (babyhead section) in Downieville....that's a garden that's easier with some speed....

    look forward to the pics
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  10. #10
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    how about this size, although I know you said endless, this trail has sections of rocks, but you get a break once in a while.





    Those aren't my pictures by the way, stolen from the midwest board. The trail is Schooner Trace at Brown County State Park.

  11. #11
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    Tag along with other local riders and see how they do it. Then you will have the best idea of what skills you might need to practice

  12. #12
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    This is the only type of terrain I do, I thought this is what mountain biking was?

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    The trick to that kind of stuff is the gear you're in and how fast you're going. If you try to granny through it, you'll go to slow, sink in to the rocks and get stuck. If you pick a bigger gear and hammer through it, you'll go faster and generally OVER the rocks (on top of them I guess) and it's much easier. I rode through some stuff like that this weekend - it was good sized rocks, uphill, for about a half mile or more, and even though it hurts, you just keep on keepin on and hammer through it.
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    There's also buff singletrack. It's mountain biking too.

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    Rock gardens are my favorite type of riding.

    I will say, though, that yeah, it's a "that's just the way it is" kind of thing regarding the tougher ones. Some people are better than others at finding "the line" if there is one to be found.

    Following the locals through some of the harder ones to learn the preferred lines is a great suggestion!
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  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by emtnate


    There's also buff singletrack. It's mountain biking too.
    that looks like something i can take my road bike on...
    I just like riding my mountain bike.

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    Well in Iowa all we really have is the buff singletrack. I love it though. Get going downhill and you're just able to sail down it wizzing past the trees.
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    Quote Originally Posted by bcaronongan
    that looks like something i can take my road bike on...

    My aunt in her 70s takes her road bike on it the same trail. I stick to the mountain bike or cross bike, but there's plenty of challenging sections in the same park.

  19. #19
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    Mainly, it is just powering through. Constantly lifting the front and just powering through. Don't use too low a gear, you need the power a somewhat larger gear provides. As for "getting light," obviously, you can't defy gravity and actually get lighter, but it means to keep your body loose and not tense up. Letting your body absorb the bumps while you are powering through is key. Another key is momentum...it can be difficult and downright scary sometimes to approach rock gardens with speed, but it often helps for actually making it across. And the last key is balance - work on trackstands. Sometimes in a rock garden, despite trying to keep momentum, the rocks will take it all away and you'll find yourself stopped. But if you can trackstand for a moment, recenter yourself, you can then power up and over the rock blocking your front tire (or even turn and go around it). The practice of trackstanding has really helped in this regard...I've gotten through stuff because I was able to trackstand for a few seconds that before would have meant I had to put a foot down, and then it was all over. I'm still working on how to start up again in these tougher rock gardens - once you're off, it's really hard to get going again!

    Also, big wheels really do help. I ride 29ers, and they get through the rock gardens much, much easier than than any 26er I had previously. Just yesterday I rode the Southern Traverse with a couple friends on 26ers. They were on 5 and 6 inch travel bikes, I was on a rigid singlespeed 29er. I powered my way through one rock garden that the two of them only made a few feet through. For riding in our rock-infested east coast trails, I can't recommend 29ers enough!

    I see on your profile you are in Harper's Ferry. Which trails specifically might you be referring to? Gambril, Greenbriar? I'm in Winchester, and there definitely a lot of rocks in the Appalachians!

    Some rock gardens take a lot of practice and skill...there are plenty of rock gardens I still can't ride that I know others have.
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  20. #20
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    Great post Jwiffle—thanks! And yes, Gambrill has some good examples of the kind of stuff I'm talking about. Here's one pic I took along the Gambrill yellow trail, which somewhat represents what I'm talking about (though this is a shorter section---I was at Canaan Valley over the weekend and found some stretches that were a LOT longer...)



    As usual, the photo doesn't do this section justice, but this kind of stuff is really hard for me. Your points (and I think others have said the same) about just powering through and trying to maintain momentum make sense...as well as sticking to a higher gear.

    But if the rocks are big enough...and/or you're trying to ride uphill through a rock garden...then using a higher gear exponentially increases the power required to get through it...meaning you better be in good shape!

    The alternatives (as you mentioned) are...
    a) build up a ton of speed and just BASH over/through that stuff as hard as possible (while absorbing as many impacts as possible)
    b) use the finesse approach, e.g. trackstands and slowly picking/choosing which rocks to ride over and around.

    One question I often wonder is...does anyone ever stand through stuff like this? So far, I haven't tried that, partly because I never seem to remember to lockout my rear suspension.

    Scott

  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by SWriverstone
    ...
    .....
    One question I often wonder is...does anyone ever stand through stuff like this? So far, I haven't tried that, partly because I never seem to remember to lockout my rear suspension.

    Scott
    yah...that gardens pumpkin heads look tall enough that i'd second guess plowing thru at speed.....i personally would 'pick' thru that kookiness....crashing in those looks like it would hurt

    as for standing...yes....mainly 'cause i primarily ride a SS

    PS - i only clean sections like that about 1/2 the time.....dammit....
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  22. #22
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    Standing on the pedals works better for me , Your results may vary . Look ahead , try to pick the best line . It will get easier .

  23. #23
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    I know pics don't always show trail features the way they really are, but that stuff in your pic just looks like point-it-straight-and-pedal-through-it stuff. LIft the bike over the bigger stuff, but mainly just power through. A fatter front tire can help a lot. Don't overthink it, many times you're better off just heading right for the obstacles rather than trying to pick a line.
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  24. #24
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    Definitely stand so you can be separate from the bike. There are a lot of really basic skills (that unfortunately are not intuitive) that you need to master on easier terrain then apply to these trails. You can be fast and light which is the best combination. By using your vision correctly (looking at least 20 feet ahead), riding in the correct body position and shifting your weight you can get through sections like that fairly effortlessly. Certainly not as effortless as buff single track but much less effort than you are currently using.
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  25. #25
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    I always stand for rock gardens, but then again I don't have an FS bike. However, I don't think comfort is really the issue... if you're standing then you have more control of your body position and can use it better as a tool for balance, lifting the fork, shifting your weight off of either end of the bike, and more.

    Personally, I would choose something between your two options... call it a+1/2. Build up a moderate amount of speed so that you can use momentum to your benefit but are still able to quickly navigate as needed. Choose a line that doesn't wander back and forth too much (so you can keep that bit of momentum) and that rides over the flatter rocks or rocks as necessary. Trying to thread between rocks leads to more failures for me (and higher risk of cut sidewalls) versus riding over rocks, which is way easier than it sounds at first

  26. #26
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    The leaves make it hard to spot the line. I ride a hardtail, most of the time I'll stand up and pick my way through. Like you said, good balance and trackstands help, especially if you're going uphill.

  27. #27
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    You need to be off the seat, but this doesn't mean stand up and lock your knees. Make sure your seat is high enough to feel good pedalling but give you enough room to be able to stand up off hte seat and still be able to bend your knees.

    You need to carry some speed but not too much uncontrolled speed, find a speed right in the middle.

    Then you need to get up off the seat and put your weight back a little, making sure both elbows and knees still have a bend to them.

    Then look past the rocks right in front of you scanning down the trail, you should see the rocks coming up, prepare for them, and then as you are going over them be looking down the trail for the next set of rocks. Never look right down at your wheel, that willl slow you down too much and make you clumsy.

    And the most important part of it all is to "Pump" the bike, especially teh front, almost like you're pumping a bike pump handle, up and down. Its especially important for the frontend as thats the part you will have the most problems with. Right before you hit the rock pull up on the bars and as you're going down the rock push down on the bars, same with the rear end except you will be using your legs to pump the rear instead of your arms. Thjis will keep the front and rear wheels from hitting the rocks and being stopped in their tracks or deflected to the side. You really got to work your body and the bike to help the bike get up and over the rocks.

    Think about if you were riding on the street and you were to go up a curb, you wouldn't just ride right into right? You'd pull the front up the curb and then the rear, treat these rocks just the same. Go find a single rock somewhere and practice riding up and over it, then start hitting it a little faster, and a little faster till you can get up, over, and down the rock quickly and smoothly.

    This will get you up and over all these rocks no problem and will also help you on every other aspect of your riding. You should be able to find a lot of information on "pumping" the bike, its a fundamental key to riding.

  28. #28
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    I'll take a crack at this one...

    My favourite riding spot is a carbon copy of what you describe. Miles and miles of unrelenting rock gardens.

    Here's some key points you need to remember.

    1) Stay Loose. Let the bike track where it wants to, with your knees and elbows adding 'travel' to your bike's suspension. The bike will find the path of least resistance. You have to find a balance of staying loose and correcting your steering when you get off track. Visually, try to picture a pinball game.

    2) Momentum. Once you get up to speed, you need to try to maintain it. If you get stuck in a sea of rocks, it's usually a pain to get your flow back. By momentum I don't mean blaze through as fast as you can. A decent pace just to get you rolling over the rocks with enough time to analyze the trail ahead. Slow and steady will get you further, especially on trails that are littered with rocks for miles. If you go all out you'll be tired sooner, and clumbsier.

    3) Think and look ahead. Don't look 3 inches in front of your wheel. Look about 6-8 feet, maybe closer if it's really rough. Hard to do, but trust me, it will help.

    4) Shift your weight. If you get stuck (front wheel on a rock) shift your weight back, or better yet, anticipate the rock and shift your weight back before you make contact with it.

    5) 'ratchet' your pedals to avoid hitting rocks. More advanced, but if you see a rock that could interfere with your left pedal, backpedal to get your left foot up at the 12 o'clock position. Or time it so that the pedal will be at 12 o'clock when you pass the obstacle. Useful for technical rocky climbs.

    6) Gearing. Stay in a gear that will let you have enough torque to clear the rocks without spinning out. You have to find this gear based on the situation. Usually I ride middle ring with one or two gears down from the top (flat rocky terrain)

    Here's a video riding on my local rock gardens

    <object width="425" height="344"><param name="movie" value="http://www.youtube.com/v/MQ57j3e_5LU&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/MQ57j3e_5LU&hl=en_US&fs=1&" type="application/x-shockwave-flash" allowscriptaccess="always" allowfullscreen="true" width="425" height="344"></embed></object>

    If I think of more I will add, but I believe those are the most important points. Good luck out there!
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  29. #29
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    philshep: I love that trail! I wish I had that terrain here.

  30. #30
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    Thanks philshep and Yody—excellent advice and good video! It looked to me like a lot of what was going on in that video was definitely finesse and balance (and all those other things)...not much "bashing through stuff."

    I'm actually getting pretty good (e.g. smooth, controlled, and flowing) riding over individual rocks, up/down ledges, etc. I actually have practiced pumping the front, lightening the rear so it rolls over rocks better, etc.

    I guess where I'm getting stymied is making the transition from the occasional isolated rock or two...to a whole sh*tload of 'em that goes on for dozens of yards!

    I guess it's just a matter of keep on keepin' on (in other words, practice!). When you're in a situation where as soon as you've gracefully gotten over one rock, your front wheel rolls right up against/into another big rock...that's when (it seems to me) you really just have to be able to exert a combination of balance and strength...to be able to slow, pause, turn, lift, pedal, ratchet, turn, stop, slow, pause, lift, turn, roll, pause...etc.

    To be able to maintain that kind of riding for even a couple minutes is really hard for a newbie! But hey, it's fun trying—so i'll keep practicing.

    Scott

  31. #31
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    Quote Originally Posted by SWriverstone
    ... slow, pause, turn, lift, pedal, ratchet, turn, stop, slow, pause, lift, turn, roll, pause...etc.....
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  32. #32
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    Quote Originally Posted by Trail Ninja
    philshep: I love that trail! I wish I had that terrain here.
    Thanks Trail Ninja,

    We did a 25 mile loop this season, which we dubbed the 'Man Ride'. All like the video; slow, techy, chunky rocks. It took us almost 6 hours Needless to say we were all spent at the end.

    cheers
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  33. #33
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    Quote Originally Posted by SWriverstone
    Great post Jwiffle—thanks! And yes, Gambrill has some good examples of the kind of stuff I'm talking about. Here's one pic I took along the Gambrill yellow trail, which somewhat represents what I'm talking about (though this is a shorter section---I was at Canaan Valley over the weekend and found some stretches that were a LOT longer...)



    As usual, the photo doesn't do this section justice, but this kind of stuff is really hard for me. Your points (and I think others have said the same) about just powering through and trying to maintain momentum make sense...as well as sticking to a higher gear.

    But if the rocks are big enough...and/or you're trying to ride uphill through a rock garden...then using a higher gear exponentially increases the power required to get through it...meaning you better be in good shape!

    The alternatives (as you mentioned) are...
    a) build up a ton of speed and just BASH over/through that stuff as hard as possible (while absorbing as many impacts as possible)
    b) use the finesse approach, e.g. trackstands and slowly picking/choosing which rocks to ride over and around.

    One question I often wonder is...does anyone ever stand through stuff like this? So far, I haven't tried that, partly because I never seem to remember to lockout my rear suspension.

    Scott
    Not what I had in mind when you said 3-4' boulders. Kind of looks like typical east coast flowy singletrack

  34. #34
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    Quote Originally Posted by SWriverstone
    Great post Jwiffle—thanks! And yes, Gambrill has some good examples of the kind of stuff I'm talking about. Here's one pic I took along the Gambrill yellow trail, which somewhat represents what I'm talking about (though this is a shorter section---I was at Canaan Valley over the weekend and found some stretches that were a LOT longer...)



    As usual, the photo doesn't do this section justice, but this kind of stuff is really hard for me. Your points (and I think others have said the same) about just powering through and trying to maintain momentum make sense...as well as sticking to a higher gear.

    But if the rocks are big enough...and/or you're trying to ride uphill through a rock garden...then using a higher gear exponentially increases the power required to get through it...meaning you better be in good shape!

    The alternatives (as you mentioned) are...
    a) build up a ton of speed and just BASH over/through that stuff as hard as possible (while absorbing as many impacts as possible)
    b) use the finesse approach, e.g. trackstands and slowly picking/choosing which rocks to ride over and around.

    One question I often wonder is...does anyone ever stand through stuff like this? So far, I haven't tried that, partly because I never seem to remember to lockout my rear suspension.

    Scott
    First off that really does not look too bad at all...

    So how to ride it...I stand more than most so I would probably be standing in second chain ring and granny...

    There are many lines through that section so I would focus on the line for the rear wheel, I would steer the front so that the rear goes where I want, I would keep only a small amount of weight on the front so it is easy to pop and move around...

    I would keep most of the weight on the rear when needed I would pop the rear over obstacles as required...

    You bail when you get the front and rear hung up at the same time, unless you have the energy to pop both up...

    That section momentum is your friend....

    Going downhil pick a line and jump the obstacles.

    Course I ride the Eastern Rockies so we get practice on stuff like that all the time, usually way more rutted, with more rocks, and steeper...crux is usually where the trail necks down to only on feasible torn up line.

  35. #35
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    Here in New England, that is what we get, I think what people mean by get light, is just keep yourself light on the front end, what you want to do is up over the small stuff to avoid the big stuff, pick yourself a line, I see a few different ones through there. Just like going DH you want your weight back some so if you do hit a bigger "boulder" you dont just dig in an lose it, you want to pop up over it with the front, then power it with the rear, then just carry yourself back to your line, "floating" comes to mind, absorb what you can, go around what you cant absorb.
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  36. #36
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    Quote Originally Posted by AZ.MTNS
    or possibly organize some trail work parties .
    NO, this is what you DON'T need to do, unless every single trail is like this.

    Make some new easier trails, but I kills me when trails are dumbed down.
    Last edited by kapusta; 11-18-2009 at 04:11 PM.

  37. #37
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    I have not read all the responses, but I will say that going into a higher gear and standing is pretty key for me, and letting the bike move underneath me. It is all about moving your weight around, and being in a high gear lets me do that easier.

    OK, I read more of the responses, and it looks like the idea of a higher gear is shared. Also, good advise on leaning how to stall (trackstand). A useful skill in may instances where you need to completely change where your momentum is taking you, or when you stall unintentionally.

    I would be careful about keeping your weight back. When you are using speed and momentum to get over things, and you are getting over them rapidly yes, it makes sense to keep the front light. However, if you are going slowly over the rocks (which often happens in the situations you describe), I tend to keep my weight more centered, so I can lift either the front OR rear, whichever is needed.

    I know that photo does not do justice to what you are talking about. The leaves make it look for easier than it is, but also make it harder to ride. You need to ride east coast rock gardens to really get how hard they can be.
    Last edited by kapusta; 11-18-2009 at 04:16 PM.

  38. #38
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    Quote Originally Posted by JPark
    Not what I had in mind when you said 3-4' boulders. Kind of looks like typical east coast flowy singletrack
    I actually didn't say 3-4' boulders...I said "pumpkinheads" or rocks the size of pumpkins. (How big is a pumpkin? I dunno...anywhere from 8" high to 24" high?)

    Scott

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    Quote Originally Posted by SWriverstone
    I actually didn't say 3-4' boulders...I said "pumpkinheads" or rocks the size of pumpkins. (How big is a pumpkin? I dunno...anywhere from 8" high to 24" high?)

    Scott
    i'm not talking about REALLY big, trials-sized boulders that are 3-4 feet high.
    Totally missed the "not" the first time I read it.
    Definately looks like typical east coast riding though, where is this?

  40. #40
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    Quote Originally Posted by SWriverstone
    One question I often wonder is...does anyone ever stand through stuff like this? So far, I haven't tried that, partly because I never seem to remember to lockout my rear suspension.
    Stand through rock gardens; definitely stand! You'll find yourself clearing them MUCH better if you've been trying to ride them sitting down all this time. I don't think I've ever sat through a rock garden, especially like the one you pictured, even on a 6 inch FS. Even if I could, I wouldn't. You'll have better balance standing for the trackstand moves, and you'll have better leverage for lifting the front wheel when needed, and you'll be better able to use your arms and legs to help absorb the hits. Unclipping, too, is easier if you need to do so quickly. When standing, pick a gear that is one or two gears harder than what you would use sitting.

    Going up the section pictured will require more of the balance, steer, lift, and power method rather than the high speed bash through method. If you're coming down at it, you'll be able to use the second method more. I haven't ridden Gambrill enough to know exactly that spot on the trail, but there are some rock gardens I have not cleaned all the way.
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  41. #41
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    That's in Gambrill State Park near Frederick, Maryland. It's a popular MTB trail system, and definitely not for beginners. If you go through the reviews at Singletracks.com, the common refrain about Gambrill is "Rocks! Rocks! ROCKS! MORE ROCKS!"

    Here are a few other pics along the same trail (that don't do it justice)...






    Much of this trail kicked my butt.

    Scott

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    Quote Originally Posted by SWriverstone
    Here are a few other pics along the same trail (that don't do it justice)...
    Looks fun, certainly tricky, but most definitely tiring if those are all climbs.

    It is the unfortunate truth that pics and videos never do a trail justice. They always make everything look easier, smaller, smoother, etc. Oh well, at least other locals will always know what it really is

  43. #43
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    Take it one rock at a time... I go slow, picking and plodding my way through the rocks. Practice track stands at home to perfect balance, and master the art of the half-step.

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    This is one of the best threads ever on MTBR, and I think it should be made a sticky. There is lots of great advice here, and these are the kind of rock gardens we have all over New England that just really kick my butt.

    How can we get a mod to sticky this?

    Lastly, it has to be said, THIS THREAD ROCKS!

    David B.

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    Looking at these pictures a couple months ago I would probably say it would be hard but now it looks fun and a little hard but mostly fun to me.

    Practice practice practice is the key. Doing those sections over and over helps too. There is a fun section here that goes down to a popular beach and is pretty gnarly rocky. About a mile of big rocks and drops. The 4x4's here have hard time on it. Its fun going down cause its downhill slightly but of course uphill going back. I don't know how many times I have rode it and messed up. From enough practice on it I have been able to clean the whole mile worth with maybe one or two mess ups where as when I started it I would fall more than a dozen times.

    Keep at it. It will come, then you can move onto something else harder.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jwiffle
    Stand through rock gardens; definitely stand!
    Truly correct!

    Don't know how I missed that in my list, perhaps because it's second nature to me. Way more balance when you're out of the saddle, and you can let the bike move underneath you way more, which is key. Picture a pump track, where you're using your knees and elbows to get the bike over and under the pumps. Same thing for a bunch of rocks.
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    One thing I think people do sometimes in these situations is give up too quickly. Even if it feels like you're doing it all wrong and it's obvious that your line is all wrong if you're still on the bike and pedaling than you must be doing something right, so keep going. You never know what you might bounce up and over if you throttle it. Don't give up until the fat lady sings or you land on your ass.

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    Here's a video riding on my local rock gardens
    Great advice, Great video, Great Song... once again, great post SWriverstone.

  49. #49
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    Quote Originally Posted by emtnate
    The leaves make it hard to spot the line. I ride a hardtail, most of the time I'll stand up and pick my way through. Like you said, good balance and trackstands help, especially if you're going uphill.
    You can see where other riders have gone though. The leaves are a bit matted down in the best lines, at least in these pics.

    I think you should be able to hit most of these with some speed, but make sure to take a line that won't lead you into some of the larger rocks.

  50. #50
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    Quote Originally Posted by bad news
    One thing I think people do sometimes in these situations is give up too quickly. Even if it feels like you're doing it all wrong and it's obvious that your line is all wrong if you're still on the bike and pedaling than you must be doing something right, so keep going. You never know what you might bounce up and over if you throttle it. Don't give up until the fat lady sings or you land on your ass.
    Yeah, this is definitely what I do! In fact, I had some crazy "rampages" into the woods when I veered off the trail and just said "F-it, I'm gonna keep pedaling!" Sometimes I can actually get back on the trail...but one time things just got nastier and nastier, and I kept veering and veering, dodging trees, until I ended up in a huge briar patch---laughing at myself! LOL

    At age 47, I'm VERY reluctant to fall, just 'cause even dumb little falls onto a pointy rock can cause a stupid injury that takes weeks to heal. So my attitude is always "I want to ride again tomorrow---pain-free!"

    As a result, once I grind to a halt in the middle of a rock garden, I'm usually done---and walk the rest, unless there's a handy tree I can use to get both feet clipped in to "launch" myself again! ('Cause FORGET trying to get that 2nd foot clipped in the middle of a rock garden! LOL)

    Scott

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    Quote Originally Posted by SWriverstone
    Yeah, this is definitely what I do! In fact, I had some crazy "rampages" into the woods when I veered off the trail and just said "F-it, I'm gonna keep pedaling!" Sometimes I can actually get back on the trail...but one time things just got nastier and nastier, and I kept veering and veering, dodging trees, until I ended up in a huge briar patch---laughing at myself! LOL

    At age 47, I'm VERY reluctant to fall, just 'cause even dumb little falls onto a pointy rock can cause a stupid injury that takes weeks to heal. So my attitude is always "I want to ride again tomorrow---pain-free!"

    As a result, once I grind to a halt in the middle of a rock garden, I'm usually done---and walk the rest, unless there's a handy tree I can use to get both feet clipped in to "launch" myself again! ('Cause FORGET trying to get that 2nd foot clipped in the middle of a rock garden! LOL)

    Scott
    Trick to get started again....Don't worry about clipping in right away, just hammer away at the pedals till you have time to clip in.

  52. #52
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    Quote Originally Posted by SWriverstone
    At age 47, I'm VERY reluctant to fall, just 'cause even dumb little falls onto a pointy rock can cause a stupid injury that takes weeks to heal. So my attitude is always "I want to ride again tomorrow---pain-free!"
    I hear that. The older I get (49) the more afraid of falling I am. It sucks, and keeps me from trying stuff I could probably do if I could get up the guts to try. It's my New Years resolution to quit being such a wuss and take some chances.
    I think that risk taking leads to falling which leads to a realization that falling isn't so bad: you can survive it.

  53. #53
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    Quote Originally Posted by smilinsteve
    I hear that. The older I get (49) the more afraid of falling I am. It sucks, and keeps me from trying stuff I could probably do if I could get up the guts to try. It's my New Years resolution to quit being such a wuss and take some chances.
    I think that risk taking leads to falling which leads to a realization that falling isn't so bad: you can survive it.
    Buy more pads I feel confident on most everything I ride right now, but I think a set of elbow and knee pads to take along on certain rides would go a long way in making me feel confident enough to push my boundaries a bit on certain trails and try some new stuff

  54. #54
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    Yeah, I've been motorcycling for years and of course gear up for that...but I need to do some research into shinguards for MTB, 'cause I can't imagine any of 'em are comfortable to pedal in! But a little armor would go a long way towards reducing the "can't get injured!" worry.

    Scott

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    on uphill rock gardens, i REALLY wish my bike had an all-wheel drive system. stand, get a little forward of your seat. balance is the key here...if you're too far forward, the back wheel won't get traction and you'll slip out. if you're too far back, you won't be able to control the front.

    downhill is different...stand, get a little back, stay loose, and just go for it. stay in control, stay comfortable with your abilities, but the biggest part is just going for it.
    I ride a 26'er with tubes and rim brakes.
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    I had a wipeout this morning, front wheel washed out on a root and before I knew it I was on the ground. This happened close to the end of my ride, shortly after I clipped a tree and was due to a lack of concentration and thinking about how well I got through the ride! Fortunately the landing area wasn't a tree or rocks so no harm done... but I too am thinking about pads for the same reasons!!!

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    Everybody should watch schpytzyo videos

    http://forums.mtbr.com/showthread.php?t=570288

    His rides are the epitome of rock gardens and as you will notice its all about control, rather than speed. Going down rock gardens at fast speeds with non DH suspension has be incredibly dangerous. At least that's my opinion

  58. #58
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    pads and a full face helmet for me and the wife. every year at an xc race/ride i see someone take a spill and a gash gets put on their face.

    i'm not saying wearing these armors on every ride...just on the rides that we know have these types of terrain.

    plus, we aint gettin' any younger. must preserve the knees when they hit the ground.





    Quote Originally Posted by sbpinnacle
    I had a wipeout this morning, front wheel washed out on a root and before I knew it I was on the ground. This happened close to the end of my ride, shortly after I clipped a tree and was due to a lack of concentration and thinking about how well I got through the ride! Fortunately the landing area wasn't a tree or rocks so no harm done... but I too am thinking about pads for the same reasons!!!
    I just like riding my mountain bike.

  59. #59
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    Quote Originally Posted by SWriverstone
    That's in Gambrill State Park near Frederick, Maryland. It's a popular MTB trail system, and definitely not for beginners. If you go through the reviews at Singletracks.com, the common refrain about Gambrill is "Rocks! Rocks! ROCKS! MORE ROCKS!"

    Here are a few other pics along the same trail (that don't do it justice)...






    Much of this trail kicked my butt.

    Scott
    that doesnt look too bad. quite fun to me infact. but they key is to pick a good line. stay lose and stay alert. it helps me to pick a biggish rock (like one in front of a park or school or whatever, for like decoration) and try to ride over it. you really get a feel for the mechanics of it.

  60. #60
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    Quote Originally Posted by BeaverTail
    Going down rock gardens at fast speeds with non DH suspension has be incredibly dangerous. At least that's my opinion
    Not really.

    I think it's more fair to say that going faster than your ability can be dangerous.

  61. #61
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    Quote Originally Posted by SWriverstone
    That's in Gambrill State Park near Frederick, Maryland. It's a popular MTB trail system, and definitely not for beginners. If you go through the reviews at Singletracks.com, the common refrain about Gambrill is "Rocks! Rocks! ROCKS! MORE ROCKS!"

    Here are a few other pics along the same trail (that don't do it justice)...






    Much of this trail kicked my butt.

    Scott
    the pics may not "do the trail justice" but they sure as hell show you the easy lines through the rocks. Study these pics if thew trail is kicking your butt

  62. #62
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    Quote Originally Posted by NeverFree
    the pics may not "do the trail justice" but they sure as hell show you the easy lines through the rocks. Study these pics if thew trail is kicking your butt
    You don't ride in deep leaves, do you? You see easy lines, I see lots of potential traps, because I know better. If you have never ridden that, I can tell you it is harder than you think, at least until you ride it a few times and REALLY learn where the lines are, or see it without all the leaves.

  63. #63
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    Endless rock gardens?! Awesome. How sweet is that!
    Ride with control, be "defending yourself" always.

    Damping quality aspects of suspension fares far more importantly than the quanity of travel, but both, in balance, are what you want: A nice (hydraulic) set of disk brakes (I use 8" rotor on front) and a tubeless rear wheel (UST) all help.

    Skill swise, good brake modulation [ 80% on front], weight/butt back while feet cliped in (Time ATACs), relaxed body, and eyes up, really scanning ahead while breathing fully. Go as smoothly and as slowly as you need, do not let the bike get away from you. Did I say stay relaxed and loose? Yup. Hang loose and flow. Sounds like a corny cliche yet true. Now when you get home check your spoke tension (esp. on the rear).

    My first Downieville XC race was on a crappy elastomer "damping" fork, 50mm RS Indy S, and I "pogoed" so much that I crash hard on the "Baby Heads."

    Since then I've descended the same gnarly trails on oil bath quality forks (M. Atombomb 80mm, M. -iforgotwhat- 100mm ETA, F. 130mm Vanilla - awesome- and my current fork M 130mm Z1 FR ETA - awesome-) which has improved my ride: safer and speedier.

    BTW, I weigh 210#s
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  64. #64
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    From the pics you've posted, getting through that trail looks to be more about choosing a line than powering over stuff. Sure, you can stand and power over a lot of the rocks in that trail, but why would you when you can choose a line that avoids most of them altogether? With the leaves, the "right" line isn't obvious from just looking, you'll have to try different lines and see what works best. One thing to remember in picking a line is how the front and rear tires get over obstacle differently. You can pop the front up and move it side to side while most riders don't have this ability with the rear tire. You can pop the front up a ledge at moderate speed and then throw your weight forward to get the back up. Bashing straight into a rock with the front tire can really kill your momentum if you don't unweight it while the back can power over obstacles. Powering over isn't quite as graceful as the throwing your weight forward technique but it is more appropriate in a lot of situations. You can practice both of these techniques if you have some sets of stairs nearby. Find a set of 2 (steep, not gradual) to start on and practice riding up. You should notice that you have to unweight/pick up the front tire while the back can climb right up. Also try carrying a little more speed and unweighting the back after the front is up. Then you can progress to small concrete ledges, but remember that they are a lot harder than stairs and you need to make sure your chainring wont hit before trying it.

    Also, scrubbing the front tire off a rock can throw you off balance which isn't nearly as much of an issue with the back tire. In a lot of cases, you don't need enough space to squeeze the whole bike through, you just need to get the front through and the back will either power over the rock or scrub off it into the line your front took. Your tires will take a beating if you scrub them off a bunch of rocks though.

    Oh, and remember to choose your line well in advance. Keep scanning the trail and change lines in advance if you have to. This is especially important doing high speed downhill rockgardens.

    Hope this helps! Lots of great advice in this thread

  65. #65
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    This has most likely been said already (i am far too lazy to read through all those long a$$ posts...) but a few things to keep in mind when riding any rough section of trail.
    1. general rule of thumb- stay loose and back. bend your knees and get your butt over the back tire- this will keep up your momentum through the chop (as you begin to get more comfortable you will learn to pump the rocks to increase speed)
    2. get as much speed as you are comfortable with before you enter the rocks(believe me, this is one of the hardest things to get used to)
    3. dont touch your brakes!!! (unless you really need to of course) braking will only reduce your traction and make it much more difficult for your bike to absorb the hits and keep rolling

    if you are still having a lot of trouble then take some time to find different lines and test them out, also go faster... to a certain point of course

  66. #66
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    Quote Originally Posted by kapusta
    You don't ride in deep leaves, do you? You see easy lines, I see lots of potential traps, because I know better. If you have never ridden that, I can tell you it is harder than you think, at least until you ride it a few times and REALLY learn where the lines are, or see it without all the leaves.
    Of course I ride in deep leaves its called fall in the forest.

    Just work on your technical skills and learn to float over rough trails you'll do fine. Carry your speed stay loose and off the brakes. make sure your suspension is setup properly helps too.

  67. #67
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    Quote Originally Posted by C S
    From the pics you've posted, getting through that trail looks to be more about choosing a line than powering over stuff. Sure, you can stand and power over a lot of the rocks in that trail, but why would you when you can choose a line that avoids most of them altogether? With the leaves, the "right" line isn't obvious from just looking, you'll have to try different lines and see what works best. One thing to remember in picking a line is how the front and rear tires get over obstacle differently. You can pop the front up and move it side to side while most riders don't have this ability with the rear tire. You can pop the front up a ledge at moderate speed and then throw your weight forward to get the back up. Bashing straight into a rock with the front tire can really kill your momentum if you don't unweight it while the back can power over obstacles. Powering over isn't quite as graceful as the throwing your weight forward technique but it is more appropriate in a lot of situations. You can practice both of these techniques if you have some sets of stairs nearby. Find a set of 2 (steep, not gradual) to start on and practice riding up. You should notice that you have to unweight/pick up the front tire while the back can climb right up. Also try carrying a little more speed and unweighting the back after the front is up. Then you can progress to small concrete ledges, but remember that they are a lot harder than stairs and you need to make sure your chainring wont hit before trying it.

    Also, scrubbing the front tire off a rock can throw you off balance which isn't nearly as much of an issue with the back tire. In a lot of cases, you don't need enough space to squeeze the whole bike through, you just need to get the front through and the back will either power over the rock or scrub off it into the line your front took. Your tires will take a beating if you scrub them off a bunch of rocks though.

    Oh, and remember to choose your line well in advance. Keep scanning the trail and change lines in advance if you have to. This is especially important doing high speed downhill rockgardens.

    Hope this helps! Lots of great advice in this thread

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  68. #68
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    Quote Originally Posted by NeverFree
    Of course I ride in deep leaves its called fall in the forest.
    Yes, proper technique will help a lot, and I would likely do about as well as anyone on that stuff in the pics on our first time through, but only because I have ridden in those conditions enough to know how to deal with having picked a bad line.

    Experience will show you that deep leaves make picking the best lines in a new rock garden basically impossible. If you feel otherwise, then I would be very interested to know how you would find the easiest line to climb in this pic.....


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    Quote Originally Posted by kapusta
    Yes, proper technique will help a lot, and I would likely do about as well as anyone on that stuff in the pics on our first time through, but only because I have ridden in those conditions enough to know how to deal with having picked a bad line.

    Experience will show you that deep leaves make picking the best lines in a new rock garden basically impossible. If you feel otherwise, then I would be very interested to know how you would find the easiest line to climb in this pic.....

    Straight up the middle, right over that flat rock in the foreground (in front of his tire) then straight through the smaller ones right in front of it. I usually find the 'leaf holes' only occur between widely spaced rocks. I also assume hikers will stick to the center of the trail and that the leaves would be the most likely packed down there. just my 2cents
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  70. #70
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    Quote Originally Posted by philshep
    Straight up the middle, right over that flat rock in the foreground (in front of his tire) then straight through the smaller ones right in front of it. I usually find the 'leaf holes' only occur between widely spaced rocks. I also assume hikers will stick to the center of the trail and that the leaves would be the most likely packed down there. just my 2cents
    Sounds like a reasonable choice, one of the two I would try. So the point of my question is, how confident are you that it IS in fact the best line, and that the space between some of those rocks you are going between are not entirely off camber bottoms of one or both of the rocks, or wheel traps (not necessarily holes)? In these cases where I do not know what is between the rocks, I sometimes aim to go directly OVER the rocks. So I would consider following a line almost exactly where his stem is pointing in the pic: Over the two right in front, then over the one a few feet beyond that, veering left to avoid the big one right after that. After that, I'd take it by ear. It may be harder than going up the middle like you say IF there is nothing funny going on up the middle, but at least I have a better idea of what I am riding over.

    My point is that it is really a guess as to the best line, and understanding that you don't have all the info from just looking at those pics is important for making a decision. If going up the middle is clean under the leaves, then it is definitely the best way. But if it is not, then it may be a very bad way.

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    Some good points Kapusta...

    You're right you can only guess as to the best line, but most times an educated guess works out in the end. Unfortunately with these conditions you're bound to get stuck. This past weekend there were 6 of us on a ride in rocky infested leafy trails and 5 of us went OTB at one time or another

    Just wait till the snow hits and then you have a whole other animal!!

    Cheers
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    I'm bumping this thread because it was a good one, with a lot of good info/advice.

    In the 8 months since I started the thread, I've done a lot of riding and gotten a lot better at handling nasty rock gardens. I'm still far from an expert...but I'm an expert compared with how lame I was 8 months ago! LOL

    A few points about handling rock gardens have risen to the top of my thinking lately, and I thought I'd share them here.

    First...much of riding rock gardens (and mountain biking in general) comes from increased experience/awareness—over time—of just what you can roll over and what you can't. From the start, I read that you can roll over anything that's not higher than your wheel hub...but in practice, that's a HARD concept to grasp until you do it a lot. The more you ride over rocks, the better sense you'll have of how much resistance rocks of a given height will present...and how much effort it takes you to get over them. Just this knowledge alone (aside from any technique improvement) helps a lot!

    Second...unless you're a "balance genius" who can do track stands all day...the key to rock gardens (and this is BIG) is MOMENTUM. It really does help to think of rock gardens as an all-or-nothing proposition. That is, you have to commit to getting through right from the start. If there's any hesitation—any thinking "I'll just ride into it and see what happens" you'll likely end up putting feet down. Similarly, there is no stopping in a gnarly rock garden. You stop, you're done. You're gonna walk the rest of the way (or walk back and try again.) If you can track stand in the middle of it and get going again, awesome! But most of us can't do that...and even if you can...it's a LOT harder to regain your momentum from a standstill than it is to just cruise right through.

    Third...I've seen this in books and tutorials, but by now have experienced it firsthand: the best line is NOT always BETWEEN the rocks. About the only time this is true is...
    a) if the rocks are BIG (like 3-4 feet high), or...
    b) if there's considerable space between the rocks (like two tire widths or more)
    As long as the rocks aren't huge...you're often better off just taking a line that carries you OVER the big rocks, even if they're at some odd angles. It's easier (and safer) to pedal over rocks than trying to noodle and maneuver your way around them.

    Fourth...this is related to the 3rd point above...the best line through ANY rock garden is usually a STRAIGHT LINE. Dont' get caught up analyzing lines to death. You generally don't have time for that (unless you stop before the rocks)...and more often than not, the line you carefully constructed in your mind will go out the window once you're in the rocks, LOL. When you approach the rock garden, do a QUICK, GENERAL appraisal—ask yourself, "Left? Center? Or right?" then go for it—in a straight line—and just power through! You might be able to alter your line (and the better you are the easier this will become)...but for beginners and intermediates (like me) you're better off letting any "course deviations" happen by accident (e.g. your tire just "wanted" to roll there—see the last tip below).

    Fifth...this is another tip you've probably heard...but if in the middle of powering through the rock garden on your straight-line course, your front tire starts wandering...let it wander and keep powering! There were many times when—if my front tire suddenly slashed to the left or right—I'd stop (and think "No! This isn't the line I wanted to take!")...but eventually, I learned to just go with the front tire. When I did this, most of the time I'd make it through.

    -----
    So hopefully these tips (from my learning process over the past few months) will help other beginner/intermediate riders like me!

    Scott
    29er wheels are dangerous. They may cause you to go faster which can result in serious bodily injury. —Jim311

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    A lot of good info in your post S dub.
    Regarding this:
    I read that you can roll over anything that's not higher than your wheel hub...but in practice, that's a HARD concept to grasp until you do it a lot.
    What about your bottom bracket?
    Getting my wheel over stuff is not what stops me from trying, its the problem of hitting the chainring on the rock after your wheel clears.

  74. #74
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    Quote Originally Posted by SWriverstone

    Third...I've seen this in books and tutorials, but by now have experienced it firsthand: the best line is NOT always BETWEEN the rocks.

    Fourth...this is related to the 3rd point above...the best line through ANY rock garden is usually a STRAIGHT LINE. Dont' get caught up analyzing lines to death. You generally don't have time for that (unless you stop before the rocks)...and more often than not, the line you carefully constructed in your mind will go out the window once you're in the rocks, LOL.
    These are two really good points

    To add to #3, if there are leaves on the ground, the space between the rocks can hold some nasty surprises. Plus, while your front wheel is in a tight space, you lose most of the control you have over the direction AND balance of the bike.

    Yes, as you get better, you can make planned directional changes, but it is often harder than you anticipate (at least it is for me).
    15mm is a second-best solution to a problem that was already solved.

  75. #75
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    Quote Originally Posted by smilinsteve
    A lot of good info in your post S dub.
    Regarding this:


    What about your bottom bracket?
    Getting my wheel over stuff is not what stops me from trying, its the problem of hitting the chainring on the rock after your wheel clears.
    I think a lot of this is learning to pick lines where your chainring won't hit...(though I realize that's easier said than done!)

    ALSO: This is apparently a really common bike mod...but (being a newbie) I somehow missed this until I rode with a couple experienced riders who had done this...and I thought "Eureka! I'm doing this!"

    The tip: get rid of your big chainring. If you're like most people, you almost never use it...and for most mountain biking on trails, you'd be fine without it. It's a cheap and easy mod, and I plan to do it!

    I don't have good clearance with my 29er...and losing the big chainring would give me another inch of clearance, which is pretty huge.

    All that's involved is unbolting the big ring and adding a bash guard in its place (to protect your chain and middle ring). If you do a search in the forum for "bash guard" you'll come up with all kinds of links—tey're cheap (like $15).

    You *can* modify (shorten) your chain length...but you likely don't have to do anything to the chain (as I understand it).

    Scott

    EDIT: Here are the bash guards everyone gets: http://www.bbgbashguard.com/Mountainbike.html
    29er wheels are dangerous. They may cause you to go faster which can result in serious bodily injury. —Jim311

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    That tip about being able to roll over anything lower than your hub is sure to get a lot of new riders in trouble. People need to realize it's a bit more complicated than that.

    And I'm another big proponent of getting rid of the big ring and putting on a smaller bash (I like the BBG bashes as well).
    Warning: may contain sarcasm and/or crap made up in an attempt to feel important.

  77. #77
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    Quote Originally Posted by trailville
    That tip about being able to roll over anything lower than your hub is sure to get a lot of new riders in trouble. People need to realize it's a bit more complicated than that..
    Yeah, possibly. I mentioned the tip just because I've read it before...while I certainly have NOT rolled over anything quite as high as my hub...I have rolled over stuff that was a lot higher than I *thought* I'd be able to roll over. (But I'm also on a 29er, so that might help a bit).

    Obviously lifting the front wheel for obstacles is a better technique than just rolling over with no attempt to lift the front at all...but having said that, I think learning to roll over smaller obstacles (without trying to lift the front at all...rather just absorbing the initial hit with your arms) is a good way for beginners to begin understanding just what mountain bikes (especially those with front shocks) can do. And I think this helps in rock gardens...

    Scott
    29er wheels are dangerous. They may cause you to go faster which can result in serious bodily injury. —Jim311

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    Quote Originally Posted by trailville
    That tip about being able to roll over anything lower than your hub is sure to get a lot of new riders in trouble. People need to realize it's a bit more complicated than that.

    And I'm another big proponent of getting rid of the big ring and putting on a smaller bash (I like the BBG bashes as well).

    Bash ring........

    Come on guys get a grip...The only time I ever banged up a tooth on the big ring was my first failed attempt at a concrete parking stop....

    Look leave the big ring on...If you bash it guess what you now have a bash ring...and most likely it can be straightened.

    If not you still have a big ring...

    Replace it when it wears out...

    Learn how to ride clean and smooth.

  79. #79
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    Quote Originally Posted by jeffscott
    Bash ring........

    Come on guys get a grip...The only time I ever banged up a tooth on the big ring was my first failed attempt at a concrete parking stop....

    Look leave the big ring on...If you bash it guess what you now have a bash ring...and most likely it can be straightened.

    If not you still have a big ring...

    Replace it when it wears out...

    Learn how to ride clean and smooth.
    The difference is that the diameter of a bash ring is approximately the diameter of your middle ring, giving you more clearance than leaving the big ring on.
    Plus, they look cool.

    I'm thinking about getting one. It would also alow me to remove about 10 chain links, dropping some wieght and having a tighter chain and crisper shifts (yeah I know you can do that and just leave your big ring on...).

  80. #80
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    Quote Originally Posted by jeffscott
    Bash ring........

    Come on guys get a grip...The only time I ever banged up a tooth on the big ring was my first failed attempt at a concrete parking stop....

    Look leave the big ring on...If you bash it guess what you now have a bash ring...and most likely it can be straightened.

    If not you still have a big ring...

    Replace it when it wears out...

    Learn how to ride clean and smooth.
    Esp in the first years of learning to mountain bike on technical trails, I cut and nearly perforated my shins and calves enough to decide I would rather have a smooth bash guard than a ring I almost never use. I don't dismount nearly as much anymore, but in my own stupid way that big ring was a safety issue.

    The clearance and chain length issues that smilinsteve mentioned are also a nice change

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    After seeing your pics I feel the need to go out and take pics of my local trails. I live in New Hampshire and they call it the granite state for a reason. It is very hard around here to find smooth single track, at least single track that lasts more than a short distance before you hit rock. Keys to success: Stiff fork, (I ride a pike), lower pressure in your tires and stay loose. Let the bike choose its own path and hang on. If you don't have momentum stay in a reasonable gear, can't spin out but you need to be able to climb those rocks so not too high, and stay off your seat..

  82. #82
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    Everyone knows chicks dig bashguards!
    "Fear not the ob-stackles in your path"

  83. #83
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    Quote Originally Posted by jeffscott
    Bash ring........
    Learn how to ride clean and smooth.
    With this kind of advice we should all be riding skinny tire rigid single speed coaster brake road bikes on the trails. Eliminating the big ring absolutely provides an advantage under certain circumstances. Yes, there are techinques for clearing big logs and rocks without ever touching the big ring, but these techniques don't work with certain types of obstacles or especially with combinations of obstacles. For those of us that look forward to technical features, we like a bike setup the best way for that type of riding. I've gotten rid of the big ring on all my dedicated trail bikes (I beleive it's 5 right now) and have no inclination to go back.
    Warning: may contain sarcasm and/or crap made up in an attempt to feel important.

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    jeffscott, you've got me wondering...would you say that in every situation where a rider might hit/grind their big chainring, there's always another way that avoids it? If so, then you've got a valid point.

    I can say that so far in my short MTB career, hitting my big chainring hasn't really been an issue. I find situations where both tires are straddling a rock tall enough to grind your big ring are pretty rare (at least one tire or the other is almost always up on another rock).

    On the other hand, I have hit the big ring while crossing some big logs. But I also admit my technique for getting across logs sucks, LOL.

    About the only regular use for my big ring is for keeping the chain tigher on descents so it doesn't slap around as much...but that seems like a kinda dumb reason for a big chainring, doesn't it?

    Scott
    29er wheels are dangerous. They may cause you to go faster which can result in serious bodily injury. —Jim311

  85. #85
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    Quote Originally Posted by SWriverstone

    EDIT: Here are the bash guards everyone gets: http://www.bbgbashguard.com/Mountainbike.html
    Just ordered one. Black with the oval slots

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    Quote Originally Posted by trailville
    With this kind of advice we should all be riding skinny tire rigid single speed coaster brake road bikes on the trails.yeah that is what I said Eliminating the big ring absolutely provides an advantage under certain circumstances.What a crock at most 1 inch more clearance Yes, there are techinques for clearing big logs and rocks without ever touching the big ring, but these techniques don't work with certain types of obstacles or especially with combinations of obstacles.Yup For those of us that look forward to technical features, we like a bike setup the best way for that type of riding. That is why I have the big ringI've gotten rid of the big ring on all my dedicated trail bikes (I beleive it's 5 right now) and have no inclination to go back.So don't that way you will never have to get better.

    No one with any modicum of skill "needs" a bash guard...and secondly you lose a lot of top end on the burn out at the end of the steep sections.

  87. #87
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    One of the best posts I've seen in the beginner section. I live in the Appalachians as well so this is the type of trails I ride. Some of the pictures it looked like you could go around the bigger rocks and keep your momentum. The other pictures I would take my time and pick my line and make sure my front end doesn't hit one of the bigger rocks. As Kapusta pointed out it's also worse to ride trails like this in the leaves unless you have each section memorized. You're still posting in the beginners forum so my advice would be to find a local and follow them through these sections or keep trying them over again.
    There is not much choice between rotten apples.

  88. #88
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    Quote Originally Posted by SWriverstone
    the key to rock gardens (and this is BIG) is MOMENTUM
    I've been thinking about momentum a lot recently, not just in terms of rock gardens. I think an important concept to remember is that by far most of the mass when you're riding is your body, and therefore most of the momentum is your body not the bike. Now I don't think so much about lifting myself onto the rocks but about sucking the bike up under me as I go over a rock and dropping the bike back down as I go between rocks so that my body takes as level a path as possible through the rocks. This doesn't apply so much to really tall obstacles of course, but I have found lots of areas on my trails where this mental approach has helped me ride smoother and faster through obstacles and technical features. Hope my 2cents helps

  89. #89
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    Quote Originally Posted by jeffscott
    ...and secondly you lose a lot of top end on the burn out at the end of the steep sections.
    A 44/11 (with 26" wheels) is 104 gear inches. a 44/13 is 88. A 36/11 is 85.1.

    So, moving from a 44/32/22 with an 11-34 cassette to a bash/36/24 (or 22, but 24 shifts smoother) with an 11-34 cassette loses you about one cog (okay, one cog and 2.9 gear inches) on your cassette. That doesn't really seem like "a lot" to me.

    Granted, to get the 36/bash combo requires more than just replacing the big ring with a bashguard, you also have to replace the middle ring, and the granny if you want the better shifting of a 24 tooth granny, but lots of folks run bash/36/22 without any problems.

    There are other benefits as well, including smoother shifting, a shorter chain (less slap) and the ability to run a medium cage derailleur (smoother shifting and less sticking out for trail debris to catch).

    Sorry to the OP for continuing the slight thread tangent, and thanks for bumping this thread, I agree that this is one of the most useful discussions I've seen in the beginner's forum.

    David B.

  90. #90
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    This has turned into one of the best threads in the Beginner's forum .

    36/22 with a bash guard works ok for me FWIW .

  91. #91
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    Quote Originally Posted by jeffscott
    No one with any modicum of skill "needs" a bash guard...and secondly you lose a lot of top end on the burn out at the end of the steep sections.
    Your problem is that you have a complete inability to comprehend that there are riding styles and preferences other than yours (I've bumped into you before on these forums and it's basically the same story). It's great if you like your big ring and want to provide your opinion as to why you like it, and that you feel you're not sacrificing anything for using it. But to dismiss those that choose otherwise as lacking bike skills is absolute ignorance on your part. There are plenty of people with amazing bike skills that choose to not use a big ring, and they have valid reasons for doing so. And 1" of chainring clearance is significant. I have bikes with 32t, 34t, and 36t bashes, and I can notice those much smaller difference when I ride obstacles.
    Warning: may contain sarcasm and/or crap made up in an attempt to feel important.

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    ... and I was beginning to believe I would never get any better with my bash rig!
    "Fear not the ob-stackles in your path"

  93. #93
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    Quote Originally Posted by jeffscott
    No one with any modicum of skill "needs" a bash guard...and secondly you lose a lot of top end on the burn out at the end of the steep sections.
    First thing I do to any big ring is ditch it for a bash.

    The clearance does make a difference on a bit of stuff I ride, and if you do hit it, it slides a heck of a lot easier than a big ring does. And around here (or anywhere else I've lived) there is basically zero need for a 42t or larger ring unless you really care how fast you can go down a paved road or relatively smooth fire road.

    Have not missed the big ring in about 8 years.
    15mm is a second-best solution to a problem that was already solved.

  94. #94
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    I used to smash my big ring/bashguard constantly. Lift the front end, BAM, and use the bash ring as a fulcrum to tip over a large obstacle. I don't run big rings anymore, but only because you only need to see one filleted calf to not feel safe with it on the bike. I take small obstacles by hopping over, and large obstacles by plopping the front wheel on top of the obstacle and lifting the rear over. I can do either w/o really having to slow down. That said, i broke a bash guard in half about a month ago when i screwed up.

    For you beginers, yeah, get a bash guard. They're safer and will let you bash over things. If you don't have one, remember to put your chain on the big ring when you are going to do some descending.

    Endless rock gardens- get your weight back and choose a smooth line. Sometimes the best line is over a bunch of stuff.
    "Things that are complex are not useful, Things that are useful are simple."
    Mikhail Kalashnikov

  95. #95
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    Quote Originally Posted by jeffscott
    No one with any modicum of skill "needs" a bash guard...
    Guess I have less than a modicum.

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