BASIC trials training: rocky ground & creek beds
If you are new to trials you will be surprised at how well trials bikes cope with rocky ground due to their light weight and very low tyre pressures - the tyres literally wrap around smaller rocks and you won't even notice them. As the rocks get bigger, you will still find yourself dealing with them easily with a few key techniques.
Keep your legs bent and apart. When your legs are bent they will help to soak up the bumps and achieve a smoother ride. When your legs are apart, you are more likely to be able to recover from the bike slipping sideways without putting a foot down.
Keep your body positioning toward the rear when possible. This keeps the front light and able to skip from rock to rock, and allows an easier recovery if the front wheel is deflected. It also provides extra traction for the rear wheel as it increases the "footprint" of the rear tyre.
Keep your turns, throttle and clutch control very smooth. Any jerky responses are likely to dislodge rocks and ensure a foot going down. Riding in a higher gear and slipping the clutch will help a lot with this.
New trials riders often tense up in rocky terrain but you will be much smoother and in control as you relax and let your body absorb the bike's movements. Don't let rocky terrain intimidate you - you'll be surprised at what you and your bike can do when you chill out and have a positive mindset.
Picking the right speed is important. In some cases, extra speed will help to smooth the way over rocks, and you may want a higher gear to keep the throttle smooth. At other times it will be best to take it slowly. Experiment with a higher gear and slipping the clutch when required - not being able to clear a rocky section is often due to being in first gear and revving too much.
Pick your line carefully to ensure a smooth a path as possible. Remember to watch the line your rear wheel will take in turns over rocks, and to back off the throttle if there is a large rock your rear wheel can't avoid.
All of these skills become critical if riding on wet rocks or along creek beds. The people responsible for laying out sections are a cruel sadistic mob who enjoy seeing crushed sidecases and oil spilling, so learn to ride in rocks as soon as possible!
If you have previously lowered your tyre pressures for soft sand or a muddy section, it might pay to kick up the pressure to avoid damaging your rims on rocks.
As you become comfortable with rocky ground, try increasingly tight turns. With practice you will even be able to do full lock turns on rocky ground. Regularly stop and balance, then accelerate again without dislodging any rocks - this will help develop smooth throttle and clutch control.
As you learn more advanced techniques lik wheel hops, apply these on rocky ground too.
See our Youtube video How to ride on rocky ground for a visual demonstration.
Copyright B. Morris 2014
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