Good riding is based on looking ahead, having a good perception of what the terrain is going to be in the next 10 metres. Most people’s mistake is to look just in front of the front wheel
- Andrea Bruno
In this, the first of a four-part series of riding basics, Transition Bikes’ Andrea Bruno – ex-Italian Enduro Champion – gives us a simple and essential lesson on anticipating the approaching terrain as we ride.
One23 Skills Essential 1: Trail perception
Reading the terrain is one of the key elements to riding with the much sought after ‘flow’ – that feeling of effortlessness and grace that all action sports enthusiasts chase.
All mountain bike coaches will identify one of the major faults of their subjects being that of where they are looking when riding. We’re not talking ‘check out that great view’ either: it’s a common error to be staring wide-eyed at the patch of ground right in front of your wheel, wide-eyed because of the constant surprises the trail throws at you.
The first thing for me is to look ahead and…anticipate obstacles, that’s the main thing
However, by simply adjusting where your gaze falls, your riding can be improved no end and made safer at the same time. The goal is to anticipate the obstacles, twists and turns in the trail long before reaching them!
You can see the cleanest line; if you have better lines and hit cleaner lines you have better riding
Looking ahead and anticipating your next move doesn’t just allow for a safer ride though, it’ll mean that you start to hit the best lines that open the trail into a flowy dream! Keeping your head up and looking down the trail will allow you to adjust your braking, set up for turns and know when you can let off the brakes.
When riding, the will to go fast when the trail allows you to be fast is so much that eventually you lose a bit of reasoning
When the trail opens up and the going gets fast, we can all begin to clock up the miles per hour. However, while it is easy to get a quick speed boost when the trail allows, we really want to hold onto that speed for an overall fast, flowing ride with minimum effort. Again, this is where looking ahead and adjusting your speed accordingly comes in. If you can’t see what is around an approaching corner, for instance, you’ll be better off slowing down a little and ensuring you ride the corner well with good exit speed. On the flipside, if you can see around the turn and into the distance, and it’s nice and open, then you’ll be able to stay off the brakes and capitalise on every bit of speed you have!
That’s obvious, isn’t it?
You may be reading and watching this thinking it all sounds very obvious, but there are very few novice to intermediate riders who get this right and it’s one way to instantly improve your riding. So next time you ride your bike, think about where you are looking and try to keep your head up, gaze down the trail ahead.
Next week we’ll look at the ways in which we can study the trail and how it is possible to learn the ins and outs of a trail in only a few runs down it.
If you like the look of the dry, dusty trails, take a look at what's on offer over in Il Cicalino, Italy (we'll give you a clue: great trails, expert guides and copious food!).