Pedaling in the steep and rough

Hey Lee,

I was just wanting some riding advice, how do you ride fast through rough, and/or steep stuff. When i pedal i push forward and that seems to be pushing me over the handle bars when it gets steep or rocky. What is the way to manage it? I do have your book but a mate of mine stole it and i havent seen him around to steal it back.



Brian Lopes is balanced over his pedals in a slight crouch that lets him deal with slipperiness and roughness. When the traction is solid, try standing more upright with your hips forward under your shoulders. This saves energy.

Rumor has it Lopes can sprint. He’s pulling hard with his arms, but his hips are pretty far back. He’s generating force between his hands and feet, and it’s all going to his back tire. Photo by Shawn Spomer.

Hey James.

If you have a friend who you never want to see again, loan him something.

You might remember from Mastering Mountain Bike Skills that good position starts with your feet — you almost always want to balance on your pedals and keep your hands weightless.

This really helps when you’re pedaling out of the saddle; any weight on your bars wastes energy and makes your front wheel too heavy, which makes it bash into things. When you stay balanced on your pedals your front rolls better and your rear gets more traction.

When you’re sprinting or need to clear an obstacle (up or down), lean back a bit and pull with your hands — but keep your arms pretty straight. This will lighten your front wheel, plant your rear wheel and give you extra power. Best of all, it keeps your weight on the pedals.

I hope that helps.

Get that dirtbag to return your book!

— Lee

Read Mastering Mountain Bike Skills