Fax Transport Specialist
Join Date: May 2008
Location: chicago burbs
Bikes: '07 fuji cross pro, '10 gary fisher x-caliber
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bike handling skills for off road
I've got some gravel MUPs and light singletrack nearby which I'd like to get better/faster on. I'm still new to riding, so I'm wondering if there are some basic skills i'm missing out on. My tires are ritchey speedmax 32mm, but haven't experimented with pressures yet.
The singletrack is mostly packed dirt, a little rutted in places, but not too bad as long as I look ahead to miss the occasional root/stick/rock.
My bigger concern is the gravel. Some of it is pretty hard with a thin layer of fine gravel on top. Other sections can get interesting because its bigger chunks (1/2" ?), more loose, and sometimes combining a downhill with a turn. On both the hard and loose stuff, I've gotten to a speed where the steering is a bit unresponsive, it felt like hydroplaning in a car. I test the steering response before a turn, then brake mildly with both the front and rear (more front) as needed until the front end starts to turn. Then I let off the brakes and make the turn. I've accidentally slid the back end a tiny bit, but try to avoid that for now. Sometimes my braking is late and the late turn-in throws off my line, killing the exit speed. I try to follow the outside/apex/outline, unless visibility through the turn or avoiding bad terrain is a concern.
I'm always on the hoods, and probably steering mostly with the bars, not by countersteering or intentionally leaning the bike. I alternate between sitting with the outside foot down and standing on the turns.
Tips or comments? I'm picking up Mastering Mountain Bike Skills (Lopes) from the library soon.