Wednesday, April 19, 2006


In the groove

Let's talk about ruts.
More specifically, different types of ruts, and I'm not talking about lifestyle type ruts, I'm talking about ruts on mountain bike trails, downhill ruts.
Ruts whilst going uphill are rarely a problem so we won't even bother discussing them.
The best type of rut is the "straight across the road" type rut, perpendicular to the road. These are generally easy, you just do a bit of a bunnyhop and you're across, unless it's wider than normal and you have to focus a bit and do a BIG bunny hop, even if you don't get all the way across it you'll usually cross it unscathed.
The next rut is the angled rut, say about forty five degrees. These aren't too bad, usually you can chose a place to hop across, but you have to pick carefully.

The worst type of rut is the developing wheel rut. This starts off as a deep wheel mark that slowly gets deeper. At first if you're wise you'll recognise it straight away and get up on the hump in the middle of the track, that's assuming you're not riding on single track, which will buy you some time. If you haven't done this the rut will get progressively deeper and it becomes harder to lift the front wheel out of it, giving the front a good yank the front wheel should lift out and the back wheel will follow, if it doesn't you have a bigger problem, you're trapped now, and not only that but by now you're bumping over largish rocks that gather in the washed out gully. By now you've braked enough to slow down to a safe speed or else you've skillfully, and with the help of a few quick prayers to your God, navigated your way out of the problem. The only other conclusion is a fall of some sort.
A magnifying factor is the steepness of the descent. Going downhill puts your weight further foward and therefore increases your chances of going over the handlebars, a second magnifying factor is braking, once again moving more force to the front, compressing the shocks, and putting you further over the front. Braking causes a dilemma, it may cause the front wheel to skid, or even throw you over the front of the bike, in which case releasing the brake can be a better option, but as we all know releasing the brake makes you go faster and so you might escape THIS problem but what about the next one further along?

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