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Jack and Jill - Traversing

01 February 2013

Grinding out a serious hill climb is an integral part of the 'joy of mountain biking'. Once you've reached the summit though, you'll want to reap some reward for your toil... spending time sifting around the tops, imbibing the views and sucking a few lung full of clean air before plunging homeward. Pick the right spot and a myriad of opportunities will present themselves to sidle across slippery slopes or follow ill-defined sheep tracks around the hillside. Hardly ego-singletrack, and when the trail gets rough and cuts into an increasingly steep slope, it's hard not to imagine the worst as your eyes wander off the edge. Fear not - a few nifty tips and a large helping of huevos will help you tackle this tricky stuff... and will soon have you queuing up for more.


Lean your bike out, pushing your arms away from the slope while keeping your upper body back towards the hill so your head remains directly above the track. This helps prevent catching your inside pedal on 'intrusions' and being inelegantly pitched over the edge. You also gain additional traction with your centre of gravity directly over tyres - forcing them into the dirt rather than sliding out from under you.

Stutter Pedalling

Just when things are looking sweet, you're bound to be confronted with a rock or two on the trail. This is equally likely to coincide with the need to keep pedalling so as to maintain your momentum and Murphy will ensure you hit your pedals on the way through. Stutter pedalling is your saviour. You develop a sixth sense to predict when your pedals are going to hit (without staring downwards), then quickly back-pedal half a stroke and resume pedalling. It takes a few attempts to get this sussed but is a life saving manoeuvre once mastered.

Mind the Gap

Try not to stare at the offending rocks and obstacles - they don't blink and have 'tractor-beam' cunning. The knack is to steer for the gaps, rather than obsessing about avoiding the hazards. A tad esoteric but for many it magically seems to do the trick.


A little speed helps you balance your steed. There is nothing wrong with a good solid run-up to get you through the technical sections, maintaining your momentum so you can keep your eyes focused on the track ahead.

Keep it Clean

Freaking out and riding around tough obstacles or cutting tight hairpins is uncool. It causes of track damage and hey, if you can't ride a section then treat it as a future challenge for when your skills are up to the task.