Riding On The Edge
In general, mountain biking is a fun and exciting experience that combines the perfect blend of physical fitness and thrills. That said, some trails are certain to deliver a heavy dose of heart-pounding adrenaline as you push past your comfort zone in an effort to improve your skill. A particular type of trail that always leaves me chewing on my fingernails is a side-cut trail with lots of exposure—the type of trail where just a small mistake will send you tumbling down the side of a mountain.
There are a handful of trails that come to mind, but none are as intimidating as Moab’s Portal trail. If you’re unfamiliar with this spot, just imagine singletrack barely wider than your handlebars, with a rock face to your right and a 200-foot cliff to your left. It’s a bone-chilling experience just hiking your bike through this section. Hiking this trail has always been my only option. All over the world, you can find trails that require all of your focus to make it down safely. If you plan to challenge yourself on these kinds of trails, take extreme caution and keep these ideas in mind.
It’s important to pay attention to where you are looking because your body will naturally follow. If your eyes are glued to a rock, tree or trail marker, you are more likely to hit it. Always keep your eyes up and focused on where you want to go, not on what you want to avoid.
You may find yourself wanting to grab the brakes and ride at a snail’s pace down scary trails, but this will only make things worse. Of course, keep your speed in check and don’t ride faster than you’re comfortable with, but do ride with some momentum. Maintaining some speed will allow you to go over a rock in front of you as opposed to letting it push you offline. Having momentum will also improve your balance, as the gyro effect of your wheels helps maintain an upright position.
PRACTICE MAKES PERFECT
Make sure to practice your skills in a safe, low-consequence way. A white line in the road or a curb can be…