Downhill Switchbacks

firecracker22

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#1
I have a severe problem with downhill swithbacks, whether or not they're rutted.

I hate to say this, but: they scare me. If I screw up, I'm going off the edge.

So every time, I either slooowww down so much that I just tip over, or panic and grab a handful of front brake and pull what I did at the NWSF: the front end washes out and I bite it.

So, what is the correct technique for downhill switchbacks? I have been getting off and bulldogging the bike around the really nasty ones but I'd like to be able to ride around them like everybody else.

Sidenote: uphill ones don't bother me at all. They're even fun.
 
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#2
When you figure this one out, let me know;)
I have problems in this area too. I watch other people fly but I can't seem to get the hang of it.
 
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#3
firecracker.

Don't know if this is the correct way or not, but, this is what works for me.

I try to slow down before I get to the corner. Then, leave just enough speed or momentum to lock up your rear brake and skid the back end around the corner. If it is a very tight switchback you should plant your foot in the corner and pivot around the corner on your foot. Practice this on a slow flat corner until you are comfortable with skidding the back end around.

The most important part is, look where you want to go. As you are entering the corner, look at the exit of the corner and tell yourself, 'that is where I want to go'. Do Not, I repeat, Do Not look over the outside edge. Doing this will make you feel like there is a giant magnet trying to drag you over the edge. Always look where you want to go.

Hope this helps a little.

Ol'89r
 

SFO

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#4
Ol"89r is right on.
Denise was flopping in switchbacks too...
I watched her come into one and hit the front brake and fall over.
I recommended tapping the back brake to turn the bike, next thing I know she is riding up my tailpipe.
You might find it helpfull to be standing and be balanced fore to aft.
She is no longer afraid of switchbacks.
You can tap the brake in stages too, you don't have to worry about spinning the bike around in one move.
This was the only way you could ride big old style euro bikes in the woods. My husky 610 would only go around a tight corner if the rear wheel was locked up.

Have fun!
 
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#5
I just stick it in either first or second gear and let the engine slow me down. Thank god for engine braking.....:p
 

Farmer John

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#7
89'r pretty much covered it.
The only thing I could add is that once you start using the slide the backend around method, remember to start the turn as early as possible.

For supper tight switchbacks I will sack up & ride off the edge before the corner, hopfully giving myself enough space to get turned before I hit the lower trail.
 

JPIVEY

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#8
Originally posted by Ol'89r
firecracker.

The most important part is, look where you want to go. As you are entering the corner, look at the exit of the corner and tell yourself, 'that is where I want to go'.

Ol'89r
So true, just like a snow boarder, skate boarder or BMXer who spots their landings. The body will go were the eyes are looking, just watch a dancer do a pir-ou-ette
 

firecracker22

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#10
I've had almost 2 weeks to mull over all my mistakes. I am also taking a trail riding school tomorrow. I am ready to rock! I will not touch the front brake coming into corners ever again! :confused: Hey, bbbom, it's your turn to come over here. When can you come over and ride Mad River? (it's not quite halfway but it's between us--and darn near as cool as Lake Gillette)
 
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#11
Originally posted by firecracker22
I will not touch the front brake coming into corners ever again! :QUOTE]

Sharla. Using a little bit of front brake will help hold you in the corners. Try using just one or two fingers on your brake lever. If you use all of your fingers on the lever and start to lock up the brake and go down, the most natural thing to do is to grip tighter. If you have all of your fingers on the brake lever it will be impossible to release the brake. If you are only using one or two fingers on the lever and you start to fall, you can release pressure on the lever while still holding on to the handlebars with the rest of your fingers.

Proper front brake control is very important and does a lot more than just stop your bike.

Please let us know how trail riding school went.

Speedymaniac. I think Sharla was talking about corners that are too tight to just ride around.

Ol'89r
 
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firecracker22

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#12
Well, there were too many cancellations so Mikki and I just went trail riding. We did 60 miles, counting the fire roads to the trail. It was a great ride. I feel like I did a lot better on some of my other weak spots like going downhill but I still can't rail the switchbacks. I tried to just slow down first and tip-toe around. I feel like such a squid when I do it that way but at least I'm not falling. I still had a couple crashes where I did my same old mistake and one was particularly gnarly (you should see my bruise! :eek: ) but I made some progress. I just hate feeling so out of control. I can go up switchbacks just fine and even enjoy it! It's just the down hill ones that scare the crap around me. I even get off and bull-dog down some of them. I don't care what I look like, I have no pride.

Ol'89r--I do use 2 fingers on the brake. I just have excellent brakes on my new bike and spent a year dealing with mushy XR brakes so I have a tendency to grab really hard.