Navigating washboards, washouts and gravel

Washboard is a patch of kidney-bouncing earth ripples. Its uncomfortable, but not real dangerous if you dont tighten up. Relax your hands, get up off the saddle slightly, bend your knees and elbows, and let the bike float. Slow for turns on washboard.

This is the perfect position for washboard: Keep your butt above the saddle and weight slightly back. You should hover just above the saddle. From this versatile stance you can rise higher and pedal for a quick burst of speed, or drop quickly back onto your seat. Dave Wiens

Washouts happen when water erodes across a trail. Exposed rocks and other junk waits at the bottom to puncture your tire or send you flying. Hop washouts if you can. Earth-friendly advocates suggest stopping and lifting your bike over to avoid further erosion. At least go real slow.

Gravel can help you control your speed. It can also spill you off the bike. The trick is how you enter it, and whether you see it before you enter it. Riding gravel is a bit like riding sand, and a bit like riding in rockier stuff. Hard pedaling will get you traction.

Dont turn your handlebar when youre trying to change direction in heavy sand. This plows dirt forward, creating resistance to the turning motion. Instead, lean the bike into the direction of the turn more than you lean your body. You can practice this by riding on top of a curb. Turning the bars will dump you off the curb.

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