Off camber roots can look pretty formidable. But the ability to get over a rooty section with a bit of speed can open up a whole new dimension to the choice of lines available to you, or simply make you faster through a tricky bit.
The trick is to be confident and the following guide will take you through how to hit roots and clear them safely. A confident rider will succeed time and time again – the key is not to hesitate because that is when you can take a flyer.
THE RIGHT APPROACH
Your first task is to get your approach line right. Too tight and the second you hit the roots you’ll be fighting for grip. With an off-camber, a great trick is to try to start low and finish high. So, try to find a grippy part of the trail before the roots to turn against, pushing you upwards though the section and over the roots. If you come in too high, the likelihood is that you’ll spend the next few seconds sliding down the roots.
LOOK, LOOK, LOOK AGAIN
Once you’re on the right line, lookup. The further you can look through the section the better. It can sometimes help to look slightly higher than you know you’ll end up.
Remember, you go where you look. Watch some of your mates – the ones who panic and look to where they don’t want to be, will be the ones who end up there.
SPEED IS YOUR FRIEND
You should now be able to quickly scan the section and make a decision on how fast to hit it. If you need to drop some speed, do it before you hit the roots. Any braking on the camber will lose the limited grip you might have had. Some times speed can be your friend. The slower you go the longer you’ll be hanging around on the roots. Experience will help you judge your speed in the future, but to begin with, just remember not to brake too hard.
RELAX (LIKE FRANKIE SAID)
Once you’re on the roots, keep the bike straight and your body relaxed. Let the bike move freely underneath you, like you are hovering over it. If you’re too tense in your arms and legs, you’ll force the bike to slide. Try to imagine your torso as a stable platform that doesn’t move. Instead, your elbows and knees should take all the shocks and keep the bike smoothly on terra firma. Keep your elbows out to maximise how much movement you can get without moving your shoulders.
SLIDE ON THROUGH
By now you’ll be pretty much at the end of the section. If the surface is wet or the speeds low, a little rear wheel slip might still happen. Don’t panic. Any tension will only increase the likelihood of a crash. Once your front wheel is on the other side, you’re home and dry. Stay relaxed and let the rear wheel do its thing. It’s sure to find grip soon enough and catch up with the rest of you.
The steeper the camber, the more weight you should shift to your downhill leg.