Conquer Switchbacks While Mountain Biking

Conquer Switchbacks While Mountain Biking
When riding a switchback while mountain biking, a rider is essentially making a crisscrossing blueprint on the interior of a hill, as opposed to a trail providing direct access to the hill's summit. Trails get particularly tight and gnarly the higher in altitude the terrain is. Alpine trail riding provides the most gruesome challenge to conquer switchbacks as explained in the following steps.


Difficulty: Easy

Step 1
Remember two key elements to riding a switchback - conservation and etiquette. Riding the zigzag pattern of a switchback means less soil erosion and ensures you maintain the integrity of the path for future riders.
Step 2
Distribute your weight properly to conquer a switchback. A seasoned rider knows to saddle-up with his stomach, literally. By moving the rider's body toward the rear of the bike, ideally over the back wheel, he will establish a greater center of gravity, allowing him far more control than in the seated position.
Step 3
Lean forward on your outside foot while in a turn. This grants the rider additional mobility. In this position, with the lead foot slightly more elevated than the other, the rider's upper body will be less restricted and capable of swiveling at a much greater angle, making turns more manageable.
Step 4
Move toward the turn, darting the lead tire wide and moving the upper body in unison. Physics has the rider's back here as the back tire will follow within the turn itself managing it almost entirely on its own.
Step 5
Maintain control and visual contact with the trail at all times. To conquer switchbacks, the rider must pay special attention to the trail, ideally nine feet from where she first made the turn to anticipate the next, until the rider has reached the summit or the base of the hill.

Tips & Warnings

During the turn, the rider will have more control by using his or her front brake than the rear due to the higher rate at which the front tire is rotating.
Short-cutting or running a straight line on a switchback is bad etiquette. Not only does it work the soil loose, but it also kills the vegetation one is riding over. Riders who trek straight up and down hills at blazing fast speeds rarely encounter any switchbacks and, as an ancillary effect, cause erosion, ensuring that trail is no longer there.

Article Written By Kevin Yeoman

Kevin Yeoman is a freelance writer who spent much of his time growing up, biking and skiing in the mountains of Colorado and Wyoming. His work has been seen in The Boulder Weekly of Boulder Colorado.

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