More than likely you’ve heard the phrase “look where you want to go, not where you don’t want to go.” If you’re looking at the rock, more than likely you’ll run over the rock. In other words, wherever you’re looking, that’s where you’re going to steer the handlebar. In more technical terms, it’s a neuro-muscular reaction, your hands following where your eyes are trained. So if you can look at the good line, chances are your bike is going to go in that direction.
To compensate, you must incorporate a “scanning” technique where you look far enough ahead to see what’s coming, then back to directly in front of your front tire, always looking for the best line. This way you are actively engaging your brain and readying yourself as far in advance as possible for any surprises. Then, when you get into a situation such as a hole or rut, tell yourself to “look for the good line” (remember, creating a mantra to attach to the skill is very important).
Last but not least, try to look past the obstacle or terrain feature you are trying to avoid as you are approaching it. Watching it as it goes by does nothing but decrease your scanning ability.
Mark Langton is a founding member of CORBA and is the coordinator and lead instructor for CORBA’s Introduction to Mountain Biking Skills Class. Go to www.corbamtb.com and click on Skills Classes for more info. For more info on Mark, go to www.mountainbikeskills.com.