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Switchback Descent

Old 02-14-21, 05:03 PM
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jskita
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Switchback Descent

Hi - I have no mountain bike skills at all but I guess I was bored and I went on a mixed use trail on an all-road (gravel bike) and wasn't ready for it. It's more a hiking trail than anything and it's washed out and very hard packed. I am pretty sure I approached the turns in the switchbacks wrong but it was so steep for me and I held my brakes and let the rear wheel sorta drift around the turns. It felt fine to me but I have not seen this done any any mountain bike video so just asking... is it ever done?

I am guessing I just need to develop more skills, but the switchbacks had little to no berms and pretty rough from erosion. Any pointers appreciated. TIA
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Old 02-14-21, 05:26 PM
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Not a fan of switchbacks but when I do come across them, I try to take them wide so you have an easier entry. Now if you can develop an endo-turn into your skills, that would be perfect for tight switchback descents.
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Old 02-14-21, 09:13 PM
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I am definitely going to keep practicing. That place had a lot of hikers and it was probably a good thing that I was taking it slow
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Old 02-14-21, 09:50 PM
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I have built many MTB trails over the years and nothing upsets a trail guy more than someone riding their brake and drifting through corners, it really destroys the feature fast. Unfortunately, it's a fact of life for inexperienced riders. Take the corner wide with your feet level on the pedals, or the inside pedal high. Keep your weight shifted slightly back and only feather the rear brake (don't lock it up!) and that's only if you feel you're going too fast. If you see the corner coming (look far out ahead of yourself and pick your line in advance) brake to a comfortable speed before you get to it. Never stare down in front of your bike, if you see something there, it's already too late. Good luck in your endeavors, but be forewarned, mountain biking is very addictive.
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Old 02-27-21, 10:41 PM
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@Bigbus, I am guilty on all accounts! I looked straight at my front tire! I am definitely going to try again or maybe watch a few others do it. The trail was really hard packed and I actually saw a skidmark most likely from another noobie. But I was riding with slicks so I believe my damage was minimal. I have hardtail Cannondale hybrid that I might also try out there.

Thank you all for the reply, I guess answer the answer is...no brake locking!
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Old 02-28-21, 10:20 AM
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Originally Posted by jskita View Post
@Bigbus, I am guilty on all accounts! I looked straight at my front tire! I am definitely going to try again or maybe watch a few others do it. The trail was really hard packed and I actually saw a skidmark most likely from another noobie. But I was riding with slicks so I believe my damage was minimal. I have hardtail Cannondale hybrid that I might also try out there.

Thank you all for the reply, I guess answer the answer is...no brake locking!
You might want to find you an empty parking lot and work on bunny hops, wheelies, manuals, and even endo-turns like 2Cam mentioned, pretty much anything and everything that will improve your skill level and most of all comfort on the bike. You want to be picking your line well out in front of you, especially if you're sharing the trail with hikers. My weakest challenge on a trail is roots. I clear the front wheel with ease and then the rear slides along it and down I go no matter how I try to lift the rear tire (bunny hop) over them. Keep the bike loose under you like it's an extension of your body and the rest will come with practice. Good luck.
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Old 02-28-21, 11:21 AM
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+3 for looking ahead.

This really helps with setting the pedals up before the turn, especially in multiple turns, so the inside one is higher.

Also practicing using the front brake without locking it up ahead of the turn to bleed off speed without skidding out the rear.
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Old 02-28-21, 03:39 PM
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There are many types of switchbacks, and the best technique is often going to depend on the particulars... how sharp it is, how wide it is, how steep it is (before, during, and after), how loose it is, what the run out looks like....

There are a number of you tube videos on how to approach switchbacks. It is worth watching a few. Also worth sessioning a given switchback a few times to see what works.

Learning to endo turn has helped me. I am not all that good at them, but even just a small one can make a big difference in getting around the turn.
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Old 02-28-21, 03:51 PM
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Look where you want to go, never look at your front tire. Get your braking done before you get into the switchback. Best advice I ever got was to take my left (frt brake) fingers completely off the brake while in the turn. Use the rear brake to modulate speed in the turn. I stand and keep my pedals flat.
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Old 02-28-21, 08:38 PM
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Apropos of nothing, "Switchback Descent" would be a good name for a MTB. There used to be a Diamondback Ascent, almost the same
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Old 03-01-21, 08:45 AM
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Originally Posted by Darth Lefty View Post
Apropos of nothing, "Switchback Descent" would be a good name for a MTB. There used to be a Diamondback Ascent, almost the same
No one will name a bike with the word 'descent' in it-sounds too much like going 'downhill' haha
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Old 03-01-21, 01:45 PM
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Originally Posted by Bigbus View Post
No one will name a bike with the word 'descent' in it-sounds too much like going 'downhill' haha
Hey, there used to be a Giant Boulder, so anything is possible
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Old 03-01-21, 03:11 PM
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Mountain Biking is one of the few contexts where saying "It's all downhill from here" is wonderful news.
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