Everyone has their trail nemesis. I’ve decided to name and shame mine in a vain attempt to be less intimidated by them. So here goes… number 1.
TEN YEARS. That’s how long I have been trying to ride a bike over this uphill root step. 26″, 29er, 650b, full sus, locked out sus – makes no odds – I just can’t manage it.
‘Just lift the front wheel over!’ advise blokes with arms the size of hams, as they look on in bewilderment as yet again my front wheel comes to a grinding halt against it or I topple off into the adjacent bush. Unfortunately just riding round isn’t an option as its actually a detour around an extremely sticky puddle.
To be fair to me, the run up to the slope is short, overhung by branches, and rooty so its difficult to get any speed up. The slope is steeper than it looks, and the root seems to suddenly grow six inches as you approach it. But still it seems to exist to let me know that I have reached my limit in technical riding or at least – crucially – that’s what my head believes.
I once spent half an hour trying to tackle it with a really experienced technical rider to help me.
“Just lift the front wheel over the root, put your weight forward so the back wheel can hop over it and then pedal hard’ he said.
Embarrassingly – but not surprisingly given the above information – I still failed.
In my own defence, I’m not usually beaten by a trail. Ten minutes later and further down the trail I popped over another root without giving it a second thought (at which point my expert friend looked at me with utter bemusement and said “That was so much more technical”). Go figure.
Is it really just a case of lack of a combination of a good run up and brute strength? According to Rachel Atherton in Singletrack magazine: ‘Remember, men are naturally stronger and heavier, so you’re probably a better rider”. Wise words, but they’re still not getting me over that root.