Riding rough, off-piste or XC trails puts different strains on you and your bike compared to riding well maintained trails at bike parks. Staying relaxed and loose is the key to being quick over these rougher sections. You’ll start to absorbing drops, roots and rocks and keep a high rolling efficiency.
Rolling drops – For smaller drops with a clean exit, try to run your centre of mass through a smooth of a line as possible. To do this, before hitting the drop, lower your body and put your weight slightly back. As you enter it, push your front wheel into the drop, extending your arms. The purpose of this is to maintain control of the bike and keep the rear wheel away from bucking you off.
Small lifts – A small, unseen rock or root can knock you off balance if you hit it at speed. As you approach the obstacle, get your weight back and lift your front wheel. When your front wheel is clear, move your weight forward, point your toes down and bring the rear wheel over the obstacle. This will keep you rolling efficiently as you don’t loose any momentum in the impact.
Braking – When riding rougher sections, try not to lock out your wheels. You have far more control when the wheels are rolling. Locking your front wheel is asking to to over the bars or sliding out. If you’re going in with a little too much speed, feather your brakes on approach to the obstacle and roll over it.
When coming to rougher downhill sections all of the above pointers become all the more important. You’ll have to brake slightly harder and lift harder to get the same effect on the bike.