Riding Blind

Diamondback team rider and Fluidride Coach Simon Lawton talks us through riding blind, on a trail that perhaps you’ve never ridden before.

Sometimes we find ourselves so comfortable with our favorite trails, it’s hard to go somewhere new. While it’s fun to ride our go to trails, nothing will improve your riding like going someplace new, and riding a trail you’ve never seen.

It’s important to look before you leap into something blind, but there are a number of easy ways to help the process of riding a new trail. Perhaps the most important is getting good information about the trail, so you know that it’s within your ability level and that there are now major surprises along the way.

Of course, nothing is better than following another rider down a trail that’s new to you. Keep the rider several bike lengths ahead of you. By watching the basic movements of the rider, you will be able to see which way the trail turns next and the kind of terrain coming up given how the rider in front is responding.

Assuming you have no lead rider, the most important aspects are to look ahead and stay relaxed. Looking ahead will create proper body posture and balance, and your peripheral vision will take care of the details.

If a rider starts to look down, the spine becomes curved to the point that the hips and knees can no longer function properly. With good sight lines, the bones of the body are stacked over the joints in a way they can work.

Once good position has been created, start thinking of relaxing, and letting your weight ‘fall to your feet.’ This simple visualization will allow you to keep a lower center of mass and allow the bike to ‘push’ through terrain without the hands becoming too heavy, which can result in the front tire catching more on bumps, rocks and roots.

To get an easy idea of how this works, get off your bike and push it over a small branch about 6″ in diameter. First push it from the bars, and you will feel the front wheel catch before rolling over. Now hold the bike lightly on one side of the bars, and push the bike from the lower rear portion of the frame near the bottom bracket. The bike will roll effortlessly over the branch. This easy demonstration will give you a good idea of the effect you have on the bike when you tighten up too much. Keep your weight in your feet!

Riding new trails is like a metaphor for life. It’s not until we challenge and scare ourselves that we find true growth. Get out there and try something new; it will take your riding and confidence on your old favorites to a new level. —Simon Lawton