• This topic has 31 replies, 23 voices, and was last updated 1 week ago by brads.
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  • Steep switchbacks and the likes.
  • Premier Icon brads
    Free Member

    My nemesis ! What’s the secret ?.

    Think 2nd base at golfie etc. I always seem to end up too slow, on the brakes unbalanced and over the bars !

    I just can’t get my head into speeding up and putting more faith in the front end.
    Any decent videos worth watching about loading the front etc, even mental tips !

    Last crash was on lone wolf and it was sore. Nothing there to catch me as I went too feking slow into a drop right hander.

    Body position for getting that front to dig in ? as I end up very far back due to the steepness.

    Premier Icon nickc
    Full Member

    My tips (for what they’re worth) I fought with a steep couple of turns with a vertical fall line out onto a road, this is my solution.

    Speed a little faster than you’re comfy with, look (be positive) at where you’re ending up, aim with your hips and push the bike into the corner with some aggression and commit. You can’t a passenger. I normally go into the first one quite composed and sorted, but then it all tends to speed up, and I either make it, or crash.

    Premier Icon howsyourdad1
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    utter bastards. i had very little experience of these until i did transprovence. one trail had 46 of them on it. You get better at them quickly.  Note i dont know the trail you mean in golfie, but i think i understand the kind of feature you mean.

    Chatting to some of the other  racers there (Jamie Nicoll was most helpful)  is that everyone finds them hard. Brake very very hard and get your speed right down, like almost walking. make the corner as wide as possible by getting up high on the side. No higher. Higher…  Then commit and dive in. keep your weight centred, with slight bias over the bars and make sure you stay forward. if you lock your arms with weight off the back you have no space to adjust your arms/move the bars, as your arms are maxed out.

    or inside line it

    or nose pivot round them

    Premier Icon andyrm
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    Watch all the EWS footage of Florian Nicolai, especially some of the Zermatt footage from 2019. Honestly, he’s on a different level altogether at steep switchbacks.

    Because he’s so tall, his body movements are really pronounced, so if you slow the footage down, you can actually see really well how he does it.

    Premier Icon stevextc
    Free Member

    Commit … then once you get round if you do come off its a 6″ fall sideways onto the slope.. way way better than an OTB facing downslope… even if you say made it 75% then lost the front wheel it’s still just falling sideways (this is what I tell myself)

    Premier Icon Northwind
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    Thing is, golfy switchbacks tend to not be massively tight, not like alpine “180 around a tree” sort of things, it’s a little different. So, I basically think of it as setting everything up in advance, all the hard work happens at the top, then it’s pretty just much pouring the bike through the feature.

    This isn’t two separate things, you’re not “setting up” then “going”, it’s more that you set up and that leads you directly in, one big action, smooth. People talk about flow and they usually mean going really fast, but for me this is the flowiest thing there is, you’re never more like water, which I guess is why I think of it as pouring the bike. Same reason that too slow often makes it harder because you have to start adding speed rather than just letting gravity do that

    Then, it’s usually just balance and speed control and maintaining the turn you’re already doing, but it’s really just letting the bike do its job. (this makes it not so much about “trusting the front end” and more about “giving the front tyre an easier time”, you can be turning and braking less hard all the way through.

    Premier Icon chiefgrooveguru
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    Is there any particular advice for when the ground is very loose? I’m so bad at these on some of my local trails that are either wet and greasy or dry and loose and marbly. It feels like you need to let the bike fall into them and flick around but I’m too scared of losing the front and then exiting over the bars…

    Premier Icon Mugboo
    Full Member

    Have you snowboarded?

    In my head its a similar problem to learning your toe side turns, basically commitment. I find dropping my outside pedal helps, (although once I’ve learnt a corner I might not feel the need to next time) as it seems to create a space to tip the bike into. Scrub your speed, try and stay relaxed, spot the exit then tip your bike or at least thats what I think I’m doing.. and you can often drag the back brake a little.

    I was struggling with these last year and I think I was tensing up with fear so the bike was staying too upright. I built some steep tight switchbacks to practice on which has really helped.

    Premier Icon brads
    Free Member

    Skate, not snow.

    I get what you mean. I hit a few the other week and really felt flow, and was faster than I’ve ever been on them.

    Committing gets harder the older you get btw. There’s a switch in your heed that gets stiffer to operate the more fragile your hips get.

    Premier Icon dumbbot
    Free Member

    The “pouring/tipping” the bike into the corner is sound..its something I’ve been working on.

    Look up, control your speed before ..and do not touch that front brake once committed to the corner, use the rear brake as rudder to skid/steer round the corner.

    Also the advice to drop the outside foot, never sunk in with me..so I’ve had to adapt a bit with saying “knees up” to myself, meaning that I lift and point the inside knee in the direction of the corner. This in turn gives me room to move the bike underneath me and ‘pour/tip it’ into the corner and if the inside foot is up…the outside foot is down.

    This is probably all wrong but I need something simple I can say to myself on trail, and it seems to make alot of the right things happen for me.

    But no matter what, steep tech trails are physically and mentally tiring…and no matter what if I’m tired i’ll just started to drift off the back of the bike and ride like a punter. So give yourself a break, trails like 2nd base…are not easy. Far from it.

    Premier Icon stanfree
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    With the recent dry weather my mates thought it would be the best time to ride the harder golfie trails , I can get down things like Boner and Waterworld but lost my bottle on 2nd base. I managed the first 2 drops then slowed to a stand and ended up walking . My mate who until recently was reasonably similar to me , managed the trail no problem . He said he uses the same technique for the big drops on Community Service , Elbows bent arse over the back and heels dipped .
    Some trails at the Golfie Im just not meant for.

    Premier Icon JonEdwards
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    I’m not fast, but there’s not much I can’t get down/round.

    UK off-piste switchbacks tend to be steep rather than tight. Northwave’s “pour it in” is a lovely way to describe it. Unlike Dumbot, I’d say its ALL about the front brake and control thereof. The back will do shag all as there’s no weight on it. Approach in a controlled fashion, **head up and look through the corner**; tip ‘er in, plenty of weight on the bars. Head up, keep looking through. If necessary a bit of core tension, a scoop of the feet and a swing of the hips to bring the back round. Head up keep looking through. Onto the next. Obviously it depends quite how steep, wet, rooty any given corner is, but its amazing where you can get to simply by looking where you WANT to go. Not a fan of skidding round stuff or cutting in high approaches as it trashes the trails. Ride what’s on the ground!

    Alpine stuff is often WAY tighter, but quite often doesn’t have near as much fall, but may well have some really bloody awkwardly placed rocks or roots to stall you or pitch you out the front door. Generally I’ll go slow and trialsy unless I can see a clear flow through. Generally not racing, so it’s more about being neat and dab free for me.

    Premier Icon bigfoot
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    With the recent dry weather my mates thought it would be the best time to ride the harder golfie trails

    sunday was the driest i’ve ever had it up there, i actually think theres more grip and i have more confidence in the bike when it’s wet. we never got round to 2nd base, it’s on the list for next time.
    mondays inners uplift definatly got a lot grippier in the afternoon once it was properly wet, was bloody cold though.

    Premier Icon dumbbot
    Free Member

    Was on the uplift at inners on Saturday and I crashed more times in a day than I ever have done. I think the combination of the trails running super fast and kinda forgetting how steep,rough and jank some of the innerleithen trails are..

    Anyway, listen to JonEdwards..he definitely sounds like he knows his onions. Although I think I’d disagree with his front brake thing…by all means control your speed before, but I will never, ever touch that front brake on a steep turn(especially as they usually contain wet roots). Firey death is certain.

    Premier Icon zezaskar
    Free Member

    Those are hard for everyone, but one can get better. I massively improved over the last 6 months, focusing on these:
    – despite our tendency to hesitate due to the steepness, a tight steep corner is not that different compared to a tight flat corner. Things only deteriorate when we get too far back
    – heavy feet, light hands. This gets you loose on the bike. When one sees the classic steep switchback sudden steer lock and OTB you might notice generally the rider has very stiff arms
    – brake before the corner, stay away from the brakes as much as possible specially on the apex. With big heavy wheels any braking really forces the bike to get upright and messes up your line and stability.
    – heels down

    Premier Icon peaslaker
    Free Member

    If you perceive them as your nemesis, you’re already reacting to the corner. If that’s the case it is normal for your body to react by self sabotage. Reassess where your weight is. Make sure you’ve got bent elbows with range of motion. For me, it feels like if I lead with my head “like I mean it” everything pans out great. If my head is not in the game metaphorically and physically, it all goes wrong. Counterintuitively, the more you commit to the front the less likelihood of OTB.

    Premier Icon qwerty
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    You just need to add a touch of Florian:

    Premier Icon muggomagic
    Full Member

    There’s a trail near me that is 5-6 sketchy tight steep switchbacks, the first of which is littered with big roots has no catch berm or anything and turns to my bad side.
    I have a field near me with some big built up banks to stop the travellers getting in so I’ve started using them to get used to the feeling of turning into and committing to the corners especially on my bad side. I’m yet to test it out on this trail but definitely feel more comfortable turning right than when I first started, so hopefully having a bit more confidence will help a bit when I head up there next.

    Premier Icon Mugboo
    Full Member

    Oh, I forgot to add, I’ve also fitted a front brake to my jump bike and spent some time doing endos and pivoting both ways on the front wheel as some corners round Calderdale require that skill too.
    We have a local trailbuilder who’s legendary riding skills means that he builds sketchy trails so tight, that without an endo you aren’t getting down. He doesn’t add catch berms either…

    Premier Icon greyspoke
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    stay away from the brakes as much as possible specially on the apex.

    Interesting. I would say the exit is where the danger of an endo is greatest as the trail often flattens out there and it is easy for the front wheel to dig in. But this is based on the way I tend to get them wrong, and for me exiting smoothly is the thing I try to concentrate on. I think that I feel that I have got round the steep bit, I feel the bike levelling up, and try to slow down a bit too much a bit too soon. This is on trails where the bit after the corner is narrow, with a steep drop on one side and some other issues to negotiate, so I don’t really want to carry on accelerating out of the corner.

    Premier Icon oikeith
    Full Member

    – heavy feet, light hands. This gets you loose on the bike. When one sees the classic steep switchback sudden steer lock and OTB you might notice generally the rider has very stiff arms
    – brake before the corner, stay away from the brakes as much as possible specially on the apex. With big heavy wheels any braking really forces the bike to get upright and messes up your line and stability.
    – heels down

    I find looking at the exit helps bring my body and then the bike around corners like this. modulating rather then dragging the brakes too

    Premier Icon zezaskar
    Free Member

    Yeah, forgot about that one, looking at the exit is definitively a huge one

    Premier Icon paton
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    Premier Icon howsyourdad1
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    @paton thse videos are great. I’ve ridden with Nathan in Malaga and that guy is insanely talented.He also said basically everything i did 🙂  The other two aren’t bad either

    Premier Icon stevextc
    Free Member

    Is there any particular advice for when the ground is very loose? I’m so bad at these on some of my local trails that are either wet and greasy or dry and loose and marbly. It feels like you need to let the bike fall into them and flick around but I’m too scared of losing the front and then exiting over the bars…

    As someone already said it’s like skiing/snowboarding… the steeper it is the less distance to fall sideways into the slope. So essentially commit to getting it round then if you fall into the slope no biggie… way way better than careering DOWN … and you probably won’t fall anyway.

    The rest of the stuff you already know… it’s just it’s easy to forget in the heat of the moment.
    I find repeating these to myself helps a LOT (I actually say these to myself in my head)… examples in quotes..

    a) The bike goes where you look… so looking at the place you don’t want to go (straight down) has predictable consequences. “Look at the exit”
    b) Front wheel grip depends on there being weight on the front “weight the front wheel”
    c) Falling off sideways at low speed is just like sitting down “control the bail”

    One of my riding buddies had the same problem … (for those that know Tsubo and Devils Dyke – chalky corner) … and the kid coached him round… He was perfectly capable he just developed a mental block from riding these when he was less experienced…

    He started off just getting him to fall into the slope line at 2 mph on a different part of the trail.

    When he finally did it after getting comfortable falling into the slope he went round the switchback and was shouting “look at me not down the slope”… he didn’t fall but knew he could and once he’d done it and got it out of his head he rides it no problem. Sometimes we do fall (chalky corner has sod all grip in the wet) but its just a fall into the slope.

    TBH can’t remember the names of trails at Golfie and Inners and when I rode them you couldn’t see the trails for the 6″+ of mud… but I’m sure you just need confidence and repeat what you already know.

    Premier Icon lightfighter762
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    I see a lot of people practicing the ones down Janet’s Brae after Daves trail. Maybe worth a session.

    Premier Icon stevemuzzy
    Free Member

    I can turn one way far better than the other (same with my boarding).

    There is a local corner I just couldn’t ride. Proper 180 tight and decent elevation change.

    I went up one day and sessioned it 20 times filming myself.

    What became obvious was my nice body position on flatter tight turns went out the window and I was tensing up.

    So relax is the first thing. More weight over the front, dip shoulders, twist etc.

    I can now nail it but like all skills took practice, criticism/coaching (self!) and commitment.

    Premier Icon argee
    Full Member

    Think everyone hates these, as the videos above show, it’s really just speed and turning circle whilst you’re pretty much in a neutral position on the bike, for me what i worry about is front wheel washout, so having good neutral position has the front wheel weighted well (as you are on a downslope), also like having the backwheel a little lighter, as per the first video, incase there are any rocks or bits to catch up on having that ability to just hop the back wheel a little helps.

    Reality is you just need to practice, on a decent bit of ground, to do those turning angles and so on, as earlier, this type of move brings in the big Over The Bars fear, so having confidence in moving the front and guiding the rear is the biggest thing, it’s something i practice just now a bit as the dusty trails are making the fear of OTT on a switchback more in the mind, even though in reality it isn’t.

    Premier Icon VanHalen
    Full Member

    Is there any particular advice for when the ground is very loose? I’m so bad at these on some of my local trails that are either wet and greasy or dry and loose and marbly. It feels like you need to let the bike fall into them and flick around but I’m too scared of losing the front and then exiting over the bars…

    chief – if there is a hole/any support you have to shove the front into the hole in the corner where the support is then kinda flow through the corner and absorb the impact with your arms and legs. you need to extend your legs and arms to keep the bike stuck to the ground as the floor drops away. go ride switchbacks (with the original line – not the easy high line) and badgers top section loads. go as wide as you can on entrance you can normally wallride the bank into a corner if you are going fast enough (yep – scary) and it sets your body up right too. look at the exit as best you can.

    if its a flat offcamber steep switchback with no support (such as the top of badgers or hte last bit of chicken on the roots) then you just need to be bloody careful / a hero! and aim for the flat bits where you can turn and brake.

    i tend to avoid the front brake in the actual corners if i can and just rear wheel sheet if i need.

    Happy to give you some pointers if you want to hook up for a sesh. i love steep and tight nastyness. I`ve got a new trail for you to try that will give you all the practice you need.. haha

    Premier Icon paton
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    Premier Icon paton
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    Premier Icon brads
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    Some brilliant advice and videos folks.

    Will be practising in my heed before heading down tomorrow.

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