Dear Mr. Know-It-All,
Waterfalls and drops scare the daylights out of me. My kids ride down them like nothing, but I resort to bull-dogging most of the time. I have more confidence to ride up them rather than down. Any pointers for a washed-up geezer looking to keep up with his kids?
“Old and slow”
As much as I’d like to rant about your missive, I must be quite honest in saying that the majority of my older riding partners, including myself, find that these obstacles can be heart-stopping and painful if done in a tense, scared and panicked stance on the machine. I got in touch with Ryan Koch, one of Dirt Bike’s test riders and an advanced off-road pilot, for his input. Here’s his advice:
“Seat time is key, and starting small is also very important. When coming up to a drop, it’s crucial to analyze your surroundings and, of course, what is at the bottom of the waterfall. You need to know what kind of run-out you have and how quickly you need to react after the drop-in. I like to come into them standing up in a full attack position, elbows up, head up, looking ahead and, of course, you need to aim your caboose towards the rear of the machine. The intensity of the drop will determine how far back you’ll need to place your weight. You never want to be standing neutral or have your weight anywhere near the front of the bike on any decline. Usually, I’m carrying a higher gear, depending on the run, since I want to float off as smoothly as possible with no rough engine braking hampering my entrance. I stay in second or third gear, but once committed and during the drop, I’m pulling the clutch in and coasting off while also applying light pressure to the front and rear brakes. Learn your technique on smaller drops or even steep hills to gain confidence. Last, it’s important to be relaxed, letting your body work with the machine and its suspension. Tension does not let you make body adjustments and normally has you panicked and locking the brakes. This pretty much compresses the suspension, which radically reduces the bike’s ability to track down the obstacle.”
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