Mountainbike Rain

RIDING EFFECTIVELY IN THE WET

When the conditions get moist out on trails, mountain biking gets tricky. It certainly isn’t for everyone, but personally, I can’t get enough of it. I worked in Scotland for a few years after finishing university and the trails over there get some pretty heavy rainfall. I frequently found myself tackling trails that were little more than slop. A far cry from the drier mountain biking climates I was used to in Australia.

But it did give me a great opportunity to really hone my wet weather riding skills. I quickly got used to the bike wriggling and sliding under me, and my wheel spinning without gaining any traction at times. These are my secrets for riding effectively in the wet.

DO YOUR BRAKING EARLY

A common problem among riders inexperienced in the wet is that they hit a technical section of roots or something, panic, and slam on the brakes. This then causes them to lose any traction they had and lose control of the bike.

Do your braking early so you have less momentum going into technical sections. Choose your line carefully to avoid the worst of the mess, and try to tackle roots straight on. If you go in diagonal, your back wheel is more likely to skid out. Avoid braking on top of wet roots or rocks if you want to stay on your bike and in one piece.

DEFLATE THE TYRES A LITTLE

You want to give your bike as much grip as possible in the wet. One way to do this is by letting a little air out of the tyres to give them a bigger footprint and more traction. I drop my tyre pressure by 2 psi in the wet, just to get a little more bite.

If you are regularly going to be riding in the wet, you might want to consider investing in a good pair of soft tyres. They will offer more grip in wet conditions but will wear significantly faster in the dry and roll a little slower too. I have a set that I just bring out when conditions are wet and I am pretty sure they won’t improve.

KEEP YOUR WEIGHT DOWN THE HILL

When tackling a downhill section, keeping your weight and balance going downward will help stop you from slipping out too much. Attack the trail with your body low to the bars and your knees and arms bent slightly. Transferring your weight and grip sideways in the corners, as you might in the dry, can cause the bike to slide out from under you.

Increase your confidence in the wet by learning the technique for tackling it effectively. Wet conditions make the sport an entirely different beast to its dry-trailed counterpart. The only way to effectively build your confidence in the wet is through practice. Don’t be deterred by the moist weather, tackle it head-on and head for the trails. That is how to tame the wet-weather beast.


 

What do you think? Are there any more tips you can share? Share your thoughts through the comments section below.

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Peter Williams
peterwilliams@dinga.com.au

Peter loves bikes of all kinds. He has a passion for mountain biking right through to cycling long distance. He is sharing his experience here OnDECK.