Stay upright through hidden hazards with these 5 tactics.
It happens every autumn in most places. Just when the trails hit their peak—dry, fast and packed from a season's use—leaves drop, obscuring obstacles, hiding mudholes and making corners slick. Improve your ability to shred through lurking traps with these tips.
Stand and roll
To safely roll through hidden wheel-grabbing gaps and over covered rocks and logs, stand evenly on your pedals and keep your weight behind your saddle. Stay relaxed and let the front of the bike find its own way through.
Pushing a slightly harder gear than normal will keep you from spinning your rear wheel—a common occurrence when climbing through loose terrain. If harder-geared climbing bothers your knees, get off the bike and walk.
Feather With Your Fingers
Wet leaves or leaf-covered rocks and logs can be slick. The key to staying upright in slippery situations is to keep your wheels moving-that means no locking up the brakes, or you'll be riding a leaf-bottomed sled and losing any stopping power you had. Keep things under control by feathering your brakes. You won't stop on a dime, but you'll keep things in check.
Be a Swinger
A sharp downhill corner on leaf-covered ground? Be ready to put that inside foot down, but don't dab right away. Sometimes the weight shift caused by merely swinging your foot out can help gain enough traction in a corner to keep you from slipping.
Keep It Clean
A gooey mix of muddy leaves will glom onto your tires, pack up in the nooks of your fork and frame and slow your forward progress. We've heard of people coating clog-prone spots of the frame with nonstick cooking spray or WD-40 so the goop doesn't stick, but the only sure fix on the roll is swiping out the muck with your hands. Make sure you rinse the muddy, leafy mortar off your bike when your ride is over--it's much harder to clean after it dries.
Get loose have fun!