How to improve your wet weather mountain biking
Wet weather rides can be the most fun or the most miserable you’ve ever had. If you’re well prepared with the right frame of mind you can have some spectacular riding. So check out this month’s tips to improve you’re wet weather riding and get out there and enjoy!
• You need to be aware of what terrain you’ll be riding on. During wet weather riding, obstacles like roots and rocks are going to be much slicker than during the drier months. So your bike is going to get thrown off line more easily and you’ll need to pay more attention to grip and where you’re positioning your body weight. It’s important to plan ahead more throughout the ride and keep your vision looking outward.
• Traction is critical for any ride, but in wet weather it’s not so easy to get. As you ride through sections of technical rocks and roots, your rear tyre will want to spin out and stop your momentum more than normal. Select a gear 1 or 2 gears higher than your typical sit and spin gear. If you have your gearing too easy, the high cadence can overload the rear so you’ll spin out quicker, but a slow cadence can make the extra torque or need to stand spin you out as well. The trick is finding that happy medium where you can successfully clear sections seated with adequate grip.
• When you come to really muddy sections of trail, check them out before you ride them to pick the best line. Get off and walk if necessary. Only ride around the muddy section if you’re still on the trail or you’ll destroy the integrity of the trail.
• Keep your bike more upright in slow, technical turns and during fast cornering too. With slippery conditions, it can be hard to get corner bite without the bike wanting to fly out from underneath you. Try to focus on balance and grip as you navigate slick sections and keep as much weight and grip downward as possible. If you start to point that grip sideways and towards the side knobs of your tyres like you do in dry conditions, you could get a surprise as you slide in the mud.
The Right Tyres
• While on the tyre topic if there’s a single thing that you should take a look at when it comes to wet weather riding it’s your bike’s tyres. Most riders are aware that tyres with either closely spaced or shallow “knobs” tend to fill up with mud.
• For most trail riding and cross country bikes and riding, dual tread compound tyres tend to offer the best overall solution for wet weather and other low traction conditions.
• If you ride in mud that tends to stick and cake to things, you’ll need tyres with fewer, widely spaced, deep knobs.
• If you don’t want to get a new set of tyres, at least think seriously about getting a new front tyre with wide spacing between the knobs to allow mud to clear.
• Mud tyres tend to be narrower than normal to allow them to cut through the mud and find traction: so go down a size in width compared to your summer treads.
The most important thing is to be aware that it’s not just another day out on the trail. You need to treat wet trails and obstacles with respect and you’ll have a great day’s riding.