More tips sought for riding rocky trails

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  • More tips sought for riding rocky trails
  • After the improvement I saw in my riding with responses the post I thought of asking STW forum again -:)

    I made a HD helmetcam video of the descent on my standard ride from home on the east coast of Sardinia.

    I have included the sections I can just do (some for the first time when I made this vid, you can hear my swears of delight when I manage them) which would be S2/borderline S3 I guess, and some S3+ sections I don’t even try. You can see me working on line choice (often I can do each section but not one after another ‘cos I can’t set up right for 2nd one), not bashing/jamming pedals/chainring going over rocks (I can sometimes keep cranks level and rachet, but need to do better at not bashing pedals), sections with solid sharp rocks sticking up, loose rocks, steep, rocky sections with big drop-offs and a succession of rocky obstacles with dips between.

    So, what tips can I use for improving my riding of this route? Clearly practise helps – each time I do bits I couldn’t do before – but what specific techniques can I use / apply better and how can I do drills for these?
    1. The big obstacles my chain ring hits are “some much in the middle of other things” and I’m going at walking pace, so not sure how a bunny hop would help. I could do a lot better, though, at getting my front wheel up and the bike over obstacles, but need to avoid making a full half-pedal stroke to avoid bashing pedals.
    2. With practise, I’ve got lots better at simply balancing through the sections, and find that forcing myself to (at least try to) set off again from exactly where I’ve stopped is very good practise.
    3. Specific tips, YouTube videos, etc very welcome!

    Thanks Peter


    I only watched the first 2min but I’d say firstly a bit more speed would help, you wouldn’t need to concentrate so much on balancing, and the speed would carry you through the rockier bits.
    Personally I’d ditch the SPD’s as well, flats enable you to kick a leg out to balance and just dab a little if you need to, which will help keep you moving. You can also go back and try it again without the dab as well.
    You seem to be riding in between the rocks a lot without looking ahead, maybe thinking that it has to be the easiest line, when on a couple of occasions I thought rolling over the big rock to the side may have been easier.
    I’d also say if you really want to clear some bits then maybe concentrate on a 100m section and keep practising that bit until you get it right with no stopping or dabs. It looks like there’s miles of that rocky trail, but if you keep trying a certain section and develop the skills required to clean it (which will be easier when you can remember what is coming up over a short section) then you’ll probably be able to transfer those skills further down the trail when they have become more natural to you.
    Hope this helps.


    I haven’t watched the entire vid either however, Id echo what robdob posted.

    – Try hit things with a bit more speed i.e. attack the trail
    – Didn’t see your bike but if your on a hardtail try and pop over things a bit more….easier again with speed. If your on a bounce then use it! Just straight line the little things.
    – Think about your kit as well, don’t run skinny tyres as they’ll skit around, use something a bit fatter and maybe a soft compound.
    – And the old classic, look 10mtrs ahead, I know easier said than done, but if you focus on the rock in front of you then your not setting up for the next bit. Look a bit further ahead pick your line and commit.

    Takes a bit of practice, but the main thing is committment, if you reach a section second guessing your ability then chances are you’ll dab. Stay positive and just go for it a bit more.

    Best of luck and BTW that looks like a fun trail….!

    Thanks for the comments so far. I realize you can’t see the bike from the helmet cam, though from the shots when it’s there to see scale of obstacles it’s a Nerve 7.0 AM 150 mm front 140 mm back 2.4″ tyres pedals flat one side ( I flat side use on all these hard bits). I think the going straight over obstacles is a good tip that would help me, also more speed (though on the more technical bits everyone seems to go at trackstand speed…) and looking ahead more (at least as far as the next bend!).


    If you’re having to do stuff at trackstand speed, practice trackstanding. Once you’ve got that nailed, it improves your balance no end.

    And remember, you’re on a mountain bike with shed loads of suspension, not a bmx. Looks like a lot of that stuff you’re trying to get round you could just roll over.

    From watching the video you don’t seem to even try before bailing out, maybe a bit more commitment needed?

    However it does not look like a nice trail to ride, I guess its main virtue is that its downhill to your front door?


    speed is your friend, my friend!
    I find you have to be able to let off the brakes and let it roll through that stuff! if you’re having to pedal to keep up momentum on the bumpy stuff it can really put you off balance….

    not sure if you have knee/elbow pads but these may help to improve confidence as any wee falls on the rocks shouldn’t particularly hurt and put you off.

    also, some of the stuff you’re trying is way harder than a lot of people would manage to clear every time, so dont worry about doing all of it straight away…

    oh, and look ahead as said above- try it, its amazing how far it will get you
    have fun 😀


    SPEED! Those rocks look little, you’d be surprised what your bike will ride over if you commit.


    Your knitting spaghetti between the rocks. For me (and line is a personal thing) I’d agree with those above that suggest going straight over some of the bigger rocks. I can make line choice much easier.


    More Speed for sure.

    After a week riding over rocks in spain I’m amazed what one can ride over…

    nice idea to make a video and ask for advice, good idea.


    Ended up watching the whole vid, suuuuuuper nice trail that, some nice technical bits. The tricky section at the end that goes over the rock, have you tried a line to the left, seems to spit you out into the corner a bit better.

    Difficult to judge sitting in my kitchen though.


    Just been/going through a similar process myself having moved from muddy s wales to rocky steep s alps. For me constantly thinking about looking ahead and gaining the confidence to keep rolling at speed have been key to gathering confidence and improving technique. Find some nice easy places to practice over and over rather than trying to nail your latest ‘demon section’. In particular find some steps/drops with a nice gentle run off at the end so you can practice getting a bit of air, controlling your weight and landing without having to worry about the next bit. Once you get a feel for rolling fast & hopping over stuff you’ll be flying past those narrow bits where you get the pedal strikes!


    Not going to be popular with this one but I took my front brake off for a bit too coz I was addicted to constantly dragging it to check my speed – it did work! (not sure if I’d recommend it for your trip home though!)

    I binned the SPD’s too and got a hard tail, my trails are a bit tighter and windy than yours with not so many loose boulders!

    Good luck and post us another vid when you’ve really nailed it – looks awesome!


    a trackstand is not a mtb skill. riding slowly teaches you balance if thats what you think you need. if you need a trackstand, you are in a section with your brakes on. you have other issues.

    Premier Icon bangin on

    Hi Peter

    I must try get back out there now that you’ve found some more exciting trails… That looks like it could be fun..

    IMO you do need to relax and be more fluid over the rocks/bumps. As said above, try riding over things more rather than losing speed dodging rocks. To do this you’re gonna have to use some of that smooth explosive strength that you use on the rock and a huge dose of commitment!!

    Stand up good and tall and look further ahead not down at what’s right in front of your wheel. Try thinking about moving the bike ‘under’ you, rather than yourself around the bike; centre your gravity firmly on the pedals, and use legs and arms to push into the backslope/dh sides of everything and lift the bike over any kinda upslope or rock. Pump everything (+1 on the Lopes/McCormack book from the last thread)

    For the steeper drops/steps, if they’re rolleable hooch down as your rolling over the edge to smooth out the lip/drop, then extend arms/legs as you roll out, suck them in again if there are more bumps; your trying to isolate your mass from the sharpness of the trail , Not a good idea to lock out arms or legs, keep them strong but flexi, elbows out .

    Stop, go back and try stuff over and over, if you do it right, do it again ‘right’, until it’s easy/second nature. It’s not like you’ll be in anyones way 😉

    Best of luck buddy, and good luck with the STW massive when they come to stay.


    Bye the way that video does not do any kind of justice to how steep and extremely rocky and sharp those trails are.


    More speed,
    Attack the trail,
    Ride through your feet, (this has helped me no end)
    Stay loose on the bike,
    Even more speed, look were you want to ride.
    look further down the trail and not your front wheel
    don’t expect the bike to do everything for you,

    keep trying, and watch loads of biking videos
    consider a skills book,

    I bought the Brian Lopes MTB Skills one of Amazon and it’s full of useful pictures and explainations


    a skills book is great if you learn visually. if you dont you will struggle.


    You don’t use brakes to trackstand.


    Your riding to rigid fella

    Relax stay loose and Dont look where you dont want to go
    But look where you want to be going

    Start compressing and leap over the bad bits and avoid these areas
    not ride into them

    The slower you go the harder it will be to ride,
    like you are showing in the vid.


    realman. how did you stop?

    Damn! And trackstanding is my only skill!

    No specific advice, but what a nice looking trail. Where is it?


    Either coming to a stop naturally from rolling resistance, from a starting off position the moment you get on the bike (he said he finds it hard to start off once he’s stopped – trackstanding would help there), or from braking. Trackstanding does improve your balance, and defo helps your confidence on slower more techy trails. And its rad.


    Or use a rock plough LOL


    trackstanding is rad???? lol


    What gear are you in? Seriously… choose a gear in the mid range that is easy to ratchet, put a bit of power down when needed, but not something you’ll spin out or not be able to turn at all should needs be.

    Why are you so fearful of pedal strikes? I’ve found since I just accepted that on certain points of certain trails you are gonna get strikes, it’s easier as you can almost plan them in and not get freaked by them. Tool, not Jewels, eh? Again, goes with first bit about gear selection and being able to then just turn over a cadence to keep the momentum going, not stalling because you can’t pedal a little cos you may scratch a pedal.

    Other than that, I guess, bit more speed in places, as other have said; you’ll bounce over the dips rather than fall into them, but more just try to keep going. A lot of those times you stopped, you probably could have slowed, but not had to actually stopped. Momentum, more so than speed, is your friend, as I say above! This also eliminates the issues you create when try to start from static.

    Another option; could you get an (even! :p ) bigger bike and pad up to ride it a few times? It might help get you over the initial scary bit of committing to the task, so you know it’s doable.

    ** Disclaimer: I am no riding god/demon. I have learnt almost entirely through trial and error, combined with watching others and reading things from those who can do stuff I can’t. I am sure I couldn’t ride the entire trail without stopping, looking, dabbing. I do, however reckon, that I could attempt most stuff and with enough practise ride it, albeit not in the prettiest manner **

    Premier Icon senor j

    Lower gear & lower seat post?Big fat soft(ish) tyres.
    Ride over the rocks +1.
    Have you considered a bit of trail maintenance?
    That trail looks quite frustrating ,maybe if you cleared some of the corners & built up the drops ,parts would flow a little better.

    Fair play to you though for having a crack.

    Look forward to the video of you nailing it all!

    Well thanks again STW forum for some really excellent and encouraging comments. On this video 1:24 onwards you see people riding the sections I can’t (yet). I can do the descent 1:52 – 2:04; the descent at 2:32 is the hardest one and Carmine (the guy who cleans it) does almost stop; the big slab at the bottom is at 3:00.

    I summarised and have printed out the tips as
    1. Buy Brian Lopes MTB Skills ORDERED FROM AMAZON
    2. More speed but really MAINTAIN MOMENTUM – slow but not stop
    3. A bit more speed would help to have to concentrate less on balancing and carry you through the rockier bits. Try rolling straight over rocks
    4. Look ahead more to set up following section
    5. Practise trackstanding for when you are almost stopped
    6. Knee/elbow pads
    7. Use legs and arms to push into the backslope/dh sides of everything and lift the bike over any kinda upslope or rock. Pump everything
    8. Use bigger gear so easier to ratchet

    thanks everyone again, and posting another video when I can (almost) ride it all is a good target for the spring!


    keep trying, and watch loads of biking videos

    Big Col’s videos on vimeo seem just the job


    Nice trail! And what a few people said – speed is your friend.

    Today 4 of us rode the descent twice to get photos for the guide to mountain biking in Sardinia we’re writing on a beautiful sunny day.
    I managed to ride for 1st time:-
    LH hairpin 1:39 of video
    step 1:56
    drop off 4:13 (TWICE)
    succession of rocky dips 4:33
    and several other features.

    Of the advice above:-
    what did work: looking further ahead, maintaining momentum more than speed, pumping (though v. hard to coordinate when braking at same time!)

    what didn’t work: “just roll over big rocks” I tried this on the first “pedra nascendo”, going to the R of “my” (and everyone else’s) line to L. Result: over handlebars not on the rock itself but as wheel came down other side, rear derailleur bracket bent and so I could pratice the “use a higher gear to rachet” advice 🙁

    what I still need to try better: higher speed on loose (smaller rocks) rocky sections

    232 photos to select from, some great ones!

    Premier Icon edsbike

    What a horrible place to live. If you like I could come and give you some hands on tips 😀

    “If you like I could come and give you some hands on tips”
    Quite seriously, we/I would welcome people coming out here to this “horrible place to live”, both for tips and to try out descriptions of the guidebook we’re writing. This in fact is in Italian, an English translation will be a next step, but I’d translate the descriptions for testing.


    Where is it you live then?
    DO you offer a holiday type service, or would it be bunking up for a weekend of cracking riding??


    Premier Icon bangin on

    Pete and Anne run the Lemon House, which is half way down the west side of Sardinia.

    look here

    Take some rock shoes if you have them and make sure Pete takes you deep water bouldering, it’s ace.

    As Rich says, we run a guesthouse BUT work a lot to develop walking, climbing and (now) mountain biking where we live, and these developments, documented as they are by guidebooks, mean that the information on the sports is accessible to everyone, not just the people staying with us. We are keen to develop more the mountain biking, have made a lot of progress over the last year, and now have some pretty good trails and (just as important) descriptions. We have loads of vids (see and ) which we show people so they can choose which ride to do, and since we’ve been doing this we have found everyone chooses rides which match their interests and abilities. So in the first 6 months of 2011 we’ll be making a special effort to help mountain bikers: lifts to rides (free; maybe in the future we’ll charge for this), preparing and translating route descriptions, going on rides further from The Lemon House than we’d otherwise do…with the aim of getting the guidebook done (deadline end June).

    Basically if people can get themselves and their (preferably full-suss) bikes to Cagliari, with Easyjet from Stansted, we will look after them pretty well, including the support mentioned above and (can’t promise definitely but we’d try) a lift to and from Cagliari.

    cheers Peter


    I’m on my way – see you Wed morn 🙂

    Well I am getting better. I did this ride for the first time today after the Xmas holidays (in London and Rome, no MTB) and could do even more of the features, even though it was the first time in a month. Today I focussed on lifting the front wheel over rocks, and sailed over lots of rocks where previously I dug in. I also did much better on the really loose rocks, just covering the back brake a bit.

    Things like this drop-off on a trail I did yesterday for the new
    guidebook now seem really easy – this was a self-portrait, running back to the bike and jumping onto it as the ten seconds ticked away.

    For those who you who fancy a real challenge, the winter rains destroy paths

    Link to video
    though fortunately the local Comune (municipality) is planning to do some maintenance. In the short term, we’ll go and move lots of loose rocks so you can roll on more solid stuff.

    The Lopes book is v good, BTW. Peter

    Premier Icon DavidB

    make sure Pete takes you deep water bouldering

    I went with the local diving school instead


    More speed would help, but it looks like a pretty technical trail !

    How high is your saddle?

    Maybe some elbow/knee pads ? gives you a lot more confidence


    how wide is the gap from the first step to the second?

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