ROCKING MY FRONT WHEEL AROUND A TIGHT UPHILL SWITCHBACK Once I got confident in my track stands, it became much easier to learn to 'rock' my front wheel, a skill that I now use frequently in all sorts of technical situations. I recorded this 50-second video clip yesterday of me rocking my front wheel in the Figure 8 segment of Cannon River Offroad Cycling and Trails – CROCT's Sechler Pk trail in my hometown of Northfield. You'll see me using a few track stands and ratcheting in the sequence as well. Who loves rocking while rolling? I learned all of these skills from the courses and mini-modules that are part of a @ryankleech Connection membership at: mtbskills.net/ryan
I decided a week or so ago that I needed a refresher on my rocking skills, as I was having trouble deploying them consistently on the trails for tight turns and some obstacles. It occurred to me that, just like I did for learning track stands, I might be able to benefit from 5-10 minutes/day doing drills in my driveway. After 5 days, I've made pretty good progress in my straight-ahead rhythmic rocking. Here's a clip of my session from yesterday, on my 29'er hard tail and on my @advocatecycles Watchman fat bike. Why am I better at rhythmic rocking on The Watchman (Advocate Cycles fat bike) than my 29'er hard tail, even though it's about 5 pounds heavier? #goodproblemtohave 55-seconds, 50% slowmo:
Earlier this week I placed these two railroad ties in our local skills park as a different type of skinny challenge — steep up and steep down. But then I discovered that it was a fun challenge to ride up, make a tight turn, and ride back down. It was a good way to practice my novice-level 'baseline balance skills' of track stands, hopping, and rocking. You can tell I'm a novice by how long it took me to get lined up for the descent — hence, the 4x speed for that segment, followed by the 50% speed for the hopping backwards segment. Now THAT was satisfying! 30-second video
Two different ways up a tight switchback at @morcpics @lebanonhills with a downhill slab after the turn. 1. Front wheel inside the round rock at the base of the switchback. A track stand at the start: A) gave me time to scope out my line up the incline as I ended up too close to the tree in previous attempts; and B) it gave me time to weight my rear wheel (19-second mark) before applying torque to the leading left pedal, as I was spinning out in previous attempts. After rounding the tree at the top, I rock the front wheel sideways to the left as I'd crashed on the slab in a previous attempt. I added 2 old photos to the video to show the slab. It's tricky because one's wheel is turned sharply left as contact is made. If you don't have time to straighten it by the time you ride off the end of the slab, it's OTB time. 2. Front wheel outside the round rock at the base of the switchback. I'd dabbed so many times to the inside as I pedaled up the incline in previous attempts that I wanted to see if 'straightening the turn' a bit would give me a more reliable route up. Rocking the front wheel sideways 3 times did the trick. It also enabled me to go wider around the tree which in turn allowed for a straighter route over the slab. 57 seconds, 50% slowmo
I deliberately ran my front tire past the Y on the Camelback skinny at @lebanonhills today. I wanted to practice hopping backwards and rocking the front wheel sideways to try to 'recover' and exit the other direction. Out of about 20 tries, I only cleaned it twice, and even then with a slight shoulder dab on the tree. So hard but so fun. 39-second video. 50% slow motion
I tasted a little more success with the 'rocking' technique this week. [I've learned from @ryankleech that 'rocking' allows you to pause and reposition each of your tires for a more optimal line — typically for a technical obstacle — by using body movement against locked brakes.] Rather than trying to rock in place (see my video from 3 weeks ago), I decided to try adding rotations to the rhythmic rocking. I was trying to rock & rotate to the right with my left foot forward, and then rock and rotate to the left with my right foot forward. I'm a long way from getting to where I'll be able to use it on the trail but having really 'felt' it for the first time, I'm pretty confident I'll get there.