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4 Pro MTB Tips for riding mud, wet roots, & off-camber

 

You can learn a lot from studying the best riders in the world. Unfortunately, it’s easy to get caught up in the excitement of watching them ride and not take away anything.

This is my favorite race run video of all time! On his run at the 2011 World Championships, Danny Hart puts on a cornering, vision, mud riding, and balance clinic for you.

Let me teach you how to study a rider, not simply watch them.

For learning purposes, you want to focus on one skill the rider is using (or even one body part such as their head). It’s easy to get caught up in the action and end up focusing on nothing in particular. Have the remote ready to rewind!

Then watch the video again focusing on a different skill.

Here are 4 pro mud, wet roots, and off-camber riding tips Danny uses from start to finish.

 

  1. Follow the water: Try and stay in the little stream running down the trail. The water cleans your tires as that is where the trail has the most traction (less mud). When your tires pack with mud your traction deteriorates and your wheels triple in weight, forcing you to work much harder.
  2. Stay above your bike: Watch Danny’s hips, he keeps them vertically above his bottom bracket. He leans his bike but not his body, when you lean with the bike you change the vertical pressure on your tires to sideways pressure, pushing your bike away from you! This is riding in Balance!
  3. Work with the trail to create as much traction as possible: Notice how Danny uses the ruts in corners as short but steep berms. Again, that is where the water is running too. When the corner lacks ruts for traction Danny drops and weights his outside foot to create more traction.
  4. Look ahead! I know I mentioned this above, but this is even more crucial when the trail gets slick, is off-camber and/or filled with tree roots! The urge to look down at the roots is strong. Fight that urge. Looking down will make you go down on off-camber, wet roots and/or mud. As always, proper vision technique is the number one skill.

Things to watch: at 34 seconds into the video (as he rounds a corner around a lift tower), he clearly drops his outside foot for traction and balance. He does the same at 45 seconds on a steep, off-camber corner full of tree roots.
Pause the video at these points if you like.

 

He has the near-perfect mix of dropping and weighting his outside foot in sketchy corners and keeping his feet level in the deeply rutted corners where dropping his outside foot may also result in the pedal hitting the edge of the rut. 

Throughout his run, he stays in balance with his weight over the bottom bracket while looking ahead (he has a long visor on his helmet, you always see his face, not the top of the visor). He also leans his bike but not his body thus keeping his center of mass over his bottom bracket.

Except, when he doesn’t!

At 1:10 into the video, he decides to put his inside foot down and gets a little off-balance leaning into the turn. Watch what ensues! Then watch him go back to PERFECT body position at 1:13. Pausing it at 1:13 gives it the best angel from behind: bike leaned a bit into the hill, hips over his bottom bracket – perfect! 

Let me know below what you think about the concept of using videos of top athletes to showcase the correct execution of skills.

Here is to a great 2020 and your best year on the trails yet! 

Please share this article with anyone you think may benefit and feel free to call or e-mail with any questions.

Cheers
Gene