Fast Footed Fling
Got an obstacle on your XC course that you just can’t ride? Maintain momentum and gain valuable seconds for minimal effort with this technique…
Not every course is 100% rideable. It may be a log that you can’t get over or a pinch that is just too steep. Upon reaching this obstacle, most riders will do the following; brake, unclip one foot and put it down as they stop, unclip the other foot and stand over the top tube, swing a leg over the saddle to dismount and walk over the offending section of trail. Getting going tends to be equally long-winded; swing a leg back over the top tube, find one pedal and clip in, push off with zero momentum and hop into the saddle, locate the other pedal and you’re off. This alternative is inspired by the Eurocentric sport of cyclocross. It may take some practice to nail reliably but it will make you smoother and faster for very little effort.
1. As with most riding skills, step one and the golden rule is to look ahead. Being fully aware of the trail ahead, well in advance is the key to being prepared. If the dismount is approached at speed, now is the time to check your speed. Slow to a pace that more or less equates to a quick run.
2. As you get closer, drop one pedal so that your cranks are in the 12 o’clock/six o’clock positions. Unclip the foot that’s in the 12 o’clock position and bend your knee to swing your foot back and up. At this point you still need to be a reasonable distance before the obstacle—the higher your approach speed the earlier you need to be doing this.
3. Continue to lift your unclipped foot while moving your knee back so that you can clear the saddle and rear wheel as you shift your leg to the opposite side of the bike. Drop this leg to assume a ‘side-saddle’ position with the bike leaning slightly so that you still go in a straight line. This will also enable your unclipped foot to pass between the bike and your other leg. At this stage you should still be travelling at a good speed.
4. As you approach the hop off point – practice will tell you where this is – put your unclipped foot forward and release the other foot to launch into a run. Well-versed cyclocross riders will be in a flat out momentum fed sprint as soon as they hit the ground. First timers should start at a pace that they feel comfortable with.
5. Run! Use the momentum that you had from riding to sling you into a brisk run without having to work to get up to speed. Your run-point should still give you a few paces before you get to the obstacle that has forced the dismount—enough time to get steady on your feet and pick your bike up if required.
6. OK, you’re past the offending hurdle, but now’s not the time to ease up. Give it one last sprint to get up to speed and jump! That’s right; take a big leap as you throw your leg over the back of the bike. Now guys probably are more at risk here than the girls (well you get the idea), so try to take care when you land on the saddle.
7. When done properly, you should still have some momentum from your final sprint. With luck (or practice) there should be enough time to locate and clip into your pedals without losing speed. Join it all together in one seamless action and you’ll be flying past others at the next dismount—just don’t use this technique on your next group ride, as your mates will think you’re pretty antisocial!