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Thread: Help...Switchbacks

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    Help...Switchbacks

    When riding Lock 4, I always fall to the side, over the handlebars or ride really slow with one foot down on a switchback right next to the shoreline. Not to mention, this thing is at a decline. I always dread riding on that trail! Between that switchback and this boulder next to a tree(that I have NEVER make it over) on the shoreline. It just sucks for me and I just can't get it right to save my life. Even on some not as sharp, I hit my brakes and slow down to get around. I just know there is a better way. What is your technique for getting around hardcore(to me) switchbacks?

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    Quote Originally Posted by roxiemichelle View Post
    and this boulder next to a tree(that I have NEVER make it over) on the shoreline.
    That rock is my own personal nemesis. I rode over it for years without a second thought. Then a year or two back I caught a pedal on it as I went over. I went over the handlebars, down the slope and hit my head on a tree. Worst headache I've ever had. I haven;t been able to ride over that rock since then. It owns me.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Fuel View Post
    That rock is my own personal nemesis. I rode over it for years without a second thought. Then a year or two back I caught a pedal on it as I went over. I went over the handlebars, down the slope and hit my head on a tree. Worst headache I've ever had. I haven;t been able to ride over that rock since then. It owns me.
    Oh NO! It sounds like a mishap that doesn't normally occur. I hope you can defeat your fear of it some day. I had a horrible spill at Lock 4 on this dip at the beginning of the trail to the right of the entrance. It was the part that goes down hill and it's a rooted trail and then it slopes right up and there are two trees on either side of the slope. I trashed my bike and sounded like the Grape Lady from Youtube. As soon as I caught my breathe, I twisted my broken shifter around my handlebar, checked to make sure it was still rideable and all I did for the rest of the day was ride that part over and over. I am still afraid to get any air but that is one of my favorite parts!.

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    Only one way I've gotten over it and keep getting over it... pick a line, stay on it no matter what, stay in the saddle, unload the front end and pedal like your life depended upon it... if I don't do that, I have to push thru... but YMMV..
    "...what doesn't kill you, only makes you bitter...."


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    Quote Originally Posted by Hoopty View Post
    Only one way I've gotten over it and keep getting over it... pick a line, stay on it no matter what, stay in the saddle, unload the front end and pedal like your life depended upon it... if I don't do that, I have to push thru... but YMMV..
    Thanks, I will totally try it. Do you have any advice on the switchback over there?

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    Quote Originally Posted by roxiemichelle View Post
    Thanks, I will totally try it. Do you have any advice on the switchback over there?
    Oh.. sorry, I misread your post... I thought you were talking about some of the uphill switchbacks... I think you're talking about the Smackdown Trail... When I first rode L4 this snuck up on me... let's just say it didn't end well the first time, but I didn't let it get me the second time...

    Practice track stands or by "flicking" your rear end. The track stand will help you balance the bike in low speed situations, but for this particular part of the trail, keep your weight back as far you can on the bike and "feather" your brakes as you drop into the curves. Now "flicking" is a little more complicated and takes practice. I understand the theory & I have been practicing it, but not as much as I should... there are others on this board who are way more skilled than I am and could probably elaborate.
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    For the switchback, go way outside line slow as you approach, then look through the turn (almost over your shoulder) to just past the place where you want your front tire to be when you make through the switchback.

    The added element of having the lake there makes it seem a lot harder. If it was more trees I doubt you would have trouble with it.

    Also. drop a water bottle in the parking lot before hitting the trail and do slow motion circles around it in both directions. Make them so tight you have to ratchet the pedals instead of make full circles. It helps with switchbacks.

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    As far as that rock by the lake...

    I ride up to it and accelerate just as I get up to it, and simultaneously lift the front wheel and set it on top. then use my momentum to top the rock and cruise on over. This momentary burst of acceleration technique is key to clearing many obstacles. Getting the timing just right for all these things is the hard part, and just takes practice.
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    Thanks you guys for the advice. I will give it a shot!

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    Look what I found on the track stand! http://www.teamestrogen.com/content/asa_trackstand

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    Quote Originally Posted by roxiemichelle View Post
    Look what I found on the track stand! http://www.teamestrogen.com/content/asa_trackstand
    That's a great article... I remember stumbling across it when I was looking for track stand info.. here's another one that I have used as well: http://www.bikeskills.com/blog/?page_id=422.

    There's also a vid in there for switchbacks... enjoy!
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    On the down hill switchback, as stated before, weight back (butt behind the saddle, clamping saddle between thighs), feather both brakes, swing wide entering and front wheel tight at the corner while leaning slightly into the turn.

    The main thing with that rock, as with most climbing, is maintaining momentum. Accelerate to the rock, hop the front wheel onto, as bottom bracket clears the rock edge, crank. The momentum plus the crank will bring the rear wheel over, then you're heading down the other side.

    The front wheel "hopping" and weight-back posture are two essential things to figure out.

    Gary

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    There's also a vid in there for switchbacks... enjoy![/QUOTE]

    Do you know why they lower their seats? Is that just for training or do they always lower their seats?

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    feather both brakes, swing wide entering and front wheel tight at the corner while leaning slightly into the turn.

    So, with feathering brakes...does that mean to lightly tap them? and by swinging wide...do mean to get as close to the log on the outside as possible? I wish I could just stand there and watch people do that turn.

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    they're lowering their seats for ease of getting their weight back behind the bike... feathering = tapping... outside edge, look where you wanna go, turn the wheel & lean into the curve.. the more you ride, the easier it gets...
    "...what doesn't kill you, only makes you bitter...."


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    I keep my seat low while trail riding, I know I lose a lot of power when climbing in the saddle, but it lets me move around the bike easier for switchbacks and obstacles, so thats what I do for trail rides, road rides of course I lift my seat back up to an efficient height.
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    You can always cough up $250 for a "seat-dropper" seat post system.

    In "feathering", I typically go heavier on the rear brake and light pressure on the front (where most of the weight ends up when braking).

    Gary

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    Quote Originally Posted by homer View Post
    In "feathering", I typically go heavier on the rear brake and light pressure on the front (where most of the weight ends up when braking).

    That is what I think part of my issue is when I end up over my handlebars going downhill. I am trying to work on that when I ride now. I tell myself. Easy on the front brake, easy on the front break. All of this is really great advice!

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    Quote Originally Posted by kjd19892 View Post
    I keep my seat low while trail riding, I know I lose a lot of power when climbing in the saddle, but it lets me move around the bike easier for switchbacks and obstacles, so thats what I do for trail rides, road rides of course I lift my seat back up to an efficient height.
    Would I want to drop seat for a trail like Lock 4 or Montgomery Bell?

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    L4 is what I ride most of the time, I drop the seat about 1-1 1/2" thats just what works for me. That gets it to a nice height that allows me to move around, and to still stay in the saddle for most of the hills at L4. But its probably a personal preference type of thing to. I like my seat low on trails to help move around, and to me it is easier to bunny hop with it a little lower as well.
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    Quote Originally Posted by roxiemichelle View Post
    Would I want to drop seat for a trail like Lock 4 or Montgomery Bell?
    IMO dropping your seat would be something you could try, just to lower your center of gravity, but manly this is something you would do if you were doing long down hill runs.
    As for the downhill switchback by the lake, I would just sit back on my seat, feather my brakes a little & move back to your regular riding position once your through it, but this is something you will do naturally with any downhill after you've been riding awhile.

    The rock by the tree I believe everybody has a story about.
    The 2 to 3times I first rode the trail I couldn't get past that thing without at least dabbing.
    I went & rode that section until I found what for me was the sweet spot to negotiate it.
    Some ride the high line to the top, but for me... I hug the tree & just roll it with my front wheel & pull my back wheel over.

    If you can ride the trail with someone familiar with the lines it would give you a better insight of what lines to take.
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    Quote Originally Posted by homer View Post
    On the down hill switchback, as stated before, weight back (butt behind the saddle, clamping saddle between thighs), feather both brakes, swing wide entering and front wheel tight at the corner while leaning slightly into the turn.

    .
    I love Switchbacks and we have plenty of them in WV - the swing wide thing really depends on the switchback, but one thing never changes with them and once you do it you will realize it works well.... LEAN INTO it.. turn your front wheel in and lean into the inside of the SwitchBack and let her rip..

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    Feeling the pain

    I have had to relearn how to ride switchbacks as well. Just bought a 29er, and so far so good, but it is an adjustment. That being said, I broke in (literally) my new ride at L4 and on lap 2 at the infamous rock of death ( I have a better name for it, but for the sake of parental controls I will take the high ground) folded my WBT wheel set. Iím still pissed.
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    Okay, its just killing me. Which rock are you guys talking about?? What else is it near to help me picture it??
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    hmmm...........I still can't picture it. Oh well guess that means I have to go ride it!!
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    Kev, On the last shoreline trail (#14) beyond where we rerouted for the turned up tree. On a rise, there's a big flat rock on the left of a tree tilting down toward the tree. There are riding lines over it and above it. Remember?

    Oops, thread rob. Sorry.

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    Quote Originally Posted by homer View Post
    Kev, On the last shoreline trail (#14) beyond where we rerouted for the turned up tree. On a rise, there's a big flat rock on the left of a tree tilting down toward the tree. There are riding lines over it and above it. Remember?

    Oops, thread rob. Sorry.
    It's alright I wonder if we are even going to be able to get to that spot, now that the trail has been rerouted. God has temporally taking care of my fear. By indefinitely eliminating the spot that I had trouble with.

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    Quote Originally Posted by roxiemichelle View Post
    It's alright I wonder if we are even going to be able to get to that spot, now that the trail has been rerouted. God has temporally taking care of my fear. By indefinitely eliminating the spot that I had trouble with.
    I'm good with that. LOL
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    Okay I think I have finally figured out which rock you guys are talking about, but I can't recall having trouble getting past it. Guess that means its either a different rock, or I'm secretly an amazing rider.....probably a different rock.
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    So... I guess we're gonna need Google Earth to come out and picture map the trail so we'll know exactly which rock is getting everyone killed.....
    "...what doesn't kill you, only makes you bitter...."


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    Quote Originally Posted by Hoopty View Post
    So... I guess we're gonna need Google Earth to come out and picture map the trail so we'll know exactly which rock is getting everyone killed.....
    It would be awesome if we could have a street view option. Click to the left to see the boulder. Click to the right to see the switchback.

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    I think they're referring to the rock on 12 shoreline.. it's like: uphill... rock.. turn right.. downhill. like a big rock hip in the trail. I had trouble with it the first few times, then realized that it's pretty easy if you stay far left on it. the part the gets me though is the climb after that shoreline... there are random rocks on the way to the top.. never have found a good way through it.. I'm sure there's an obvious easy route too :-\

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    The best I've found on that climb is to gear down and hammer right over them. Finagled around them for forever, stalling or hanging a crank, then saw a guy just go right over. A light-bulb came on. The same with dropping off the big slab on #10. I would ease off on the left short drop, swing way wide to get back on the trail, sometimes running into saplings. There was no way I was going off at the center with it's 18 inch angled drop...until one day...after going off like a weenie, a 6 foot 250 lb. shot right down the fast way like it was nothing. A light bulb came on. Said, "I can do that!" Did it. Doin' it ever since.

    A lot can be said for seeing someone do something. Demystifiys it, shows how, and that it's "humanly possible", but maybe not this human. RE: the 6' drop at MB. Leave that to Reed and Martin.

    Gary

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    Quote Originally Posted by Hoopty View Post
    So... I guess we're gonna need Google Earth to come out and picture map the trail so we'll know exactly which rock is getting everyone killed.....
    Colin, if anyone needs a map to this rock... they don't have a problem with it or their not riding the whole trail.
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    Quote Originally Posted by twolfcon View Post
    Colin, if anyone needs a map to this rock... they don't have a problem with it or their not riding the whole trail.
    My thoughts exactly...
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    Quote Originally Posted by van98765 View Post
    "There was no way I was going off at the center with it's 18 inch angled drop...until one day...after going off like a weenie, a 6 foot 250 lb. shot right down the fast way like it was nothing."

    what's the fast way? the middle? i do the go left thing too
    I have even tried the go left thing before and I guess it's mostly fear but I just haven't made it over. Now, I haven't tried it since I started this post but as of right now...I am going to try right down the middle when I get a chance.

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    Quote Originally Posted by van98765 View Post
    "There was no way I was going off at the center with it's 18 inch angled drop...until one day...after going off like a weenie, a 6 foot 250 lb. shot right down the fast way like it was nothing."

    what's the fast way? the middle? i do the go left thing too
    was that me? Didn't mean to run you over if it was. I don't recall passing anyone at that spot recently.
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    I think going left. Right over the top is the best line for me. Especially on a SS. pedal like he!!. And take the smooth line to the left. Your momentum well carry right over and around that sucka. Don't forgot to lean back over your seat just a little. I kinda like that rock myself.
    Last edited by Dook of Moots; 05-08-2010 at 09:55 PM.
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    I guess I"ll weigh in on this one, the truth is i think all the posts have given some pretty good advice, but I fear that if you "think too much about braking and pulling up front end" when you should be focused on your line, then you will most certainly crash.

    While it may sound contradictory, speed is your best friend when come to clearing difficult sections. I'm guessing you don't have a lot of experience so I wouldn't advocate you trying to ride faster than you are comfortable doing but hitting your brakes and trying to ease over rough sections is simply a recipe for a bruised knee or a scrapped elbow.

    There's no short cuts or magic formula for developing good technical skills, you have to ride and inevitably crash a few times, or in my case a bunch of times, to develop confidence in your abilities that will allow you to hit those tough sections and not think twice about it.

    That said, here are just a few ideas that might make clearing those tough sections a little easier. Like Homer said earlier, watching someone else clear a tough section is a great idea you can see what line they are using and see about how fast they hit it.

    Also, ease up the death grip you have on your handlebars. If you've ever watched pro or expert racers one thing they almost all have in common is that they are all smooth and relaxed. You want to have a firm grip but you don't want to be tense. The best shock absorbers you have are your arms and legs, and when you are tense and tight you are not using them very well.

    Also, keep you head up with your eyes focused on the trail ahead. Looking ahead will allow you the opportunity to decide what line is best and help avoid any surprises.

    When descending try and shift your weight behind your seat, and use your brakes in unison. I would only lower you saddle if it was too high to begin with, I would not lower the seat or make any other adjustments with the fit of your bike just to make descending easier.

    As per the angled rock and tree section near the lake I always just get on the gas leading up to it and as I approach it I just slightly lift the front wheel onto the rock and coast over over it. If I remember correct I think I always try to stay on the inside.

    At any rate, I hope this helps a little. Good luck and keep after it, I'm certain with a little practice you'll be clearing it before no time.

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    I was going to try "the rock by the tree" the other day but I was wearing my clipless pedals for the first time and I chickened out. It will happen though guys. It will happen.

  50. #41
    Join Date
    Dec 2009
    Location
    Buchanan, TN
    Posts
    405
    Thanks
    42
    Thanked 131 Times in 87 Posts
    I ride L4, and well pretty much everywhere else the same way. I know my bike is capable of navigating any obstacle that I might come across without breaking, so I ride all out and don't slow down for anything other than turns. Of course I'm young and heal quickly, so it doesn't matter to much when my plan backfires. The only thing at L4 that I can think of that I really ever have trouble with is a little log pile on the west side that is at the top of a little hill and just after a turn, and I can hardly ever carry enough speed to make it over that thing. Other than that I love to ride L4 like a madman, and it usually works. I wouldn't advise it to anyone thats worried about bleeding or scratching their bike though.
    Kevin

    08' Lapierre Tecnic
    10' KHS Dj 200 (Ghetto Tubeless)
    06' Honda CRF 250R
    04' GMC Sierra red

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