Ever wondered if there is an easier way to ride a wet track? Logic would say get your weight back and hang on, right? Well as it turns out, that attack could be exactly why the slush seems so difficult.
We ran a Dad’s Day at Pirinis earlier this month and had completed a bunch of skills, but now I was asking if there was anything they would like to finish with. Gavin (name changed to protect the guilty) voiced “I am really struggling with the slush. What am I doing wrong?” His sentiment was greeted with much agreement from the other riders in his group, so I had a think about how best to help.
“I will ride through a few times and you tell me what it is I am doing,” I suggested, “mainly watching whether my weight is closer towards the front of the bike or the back.”
On completion of my demonstration the consensus was that I had my weight forward, which seemed totally contrary to what they thought would be correct. “I always keep my weight back through that stuff,” was the general comment from the riders. So I had another go, this time with my weight further back and found the feeling a bit ugly.
Gavin’s comment was, “Your bike was kicking you around much worse just then. That is exactly what it feels like when I ride through there.” So we got them out there to try powering though it with their weight further forward.
Earlier in the day we had been working on jumps, which included standing positions. Being able to keep their weight forward without letting their arms go straight was made possible by stretching their hamstrings and doing their impression of a giraffe running under a tree; or to put it another way, straightening their legs so they can still squeeze the seat between their knees, and sticking their butt out in order to get their head well past the handlebars.
While their had been plenty of silent protests to begin with (something about not being as flexible as they once were), the ability to stand like this while powering had helped when landing jumps, and was especially good through the slush.
The demonstration must have had an effect because many of the men then went out and tried powering through the section with their weight forward, proving that years of riding one way can be overcome with the right convincing, and a little peer pressure.
Their comments once finished were golden. Steve (another name change) summed his experience up with “The further forward I got, the better the bike handled. It didn’t really matter where I went because I wasn’t being controlled by what the rear wheel was doing any more.”
Tips and Techniques
Sound good? I have just one warning to share, and one tip. The warning is that this forward body position only works when you are powering. The faster you accelerate, the further forward it will pay to get. Fortunately the nature of slush means that you can be powering quite hard without gaining much speed so there is no need to be scared of keeping the throttle turned.
A tip to remember is that being in a higher gear (fourth gear rather than third for example) can also help as the engine has a broader range of power to work with, using torque most of the time and higher revs only when you hit something super slippery.
Finally, don’t be lazy about squatting low to the bike and gripping the seat hard with your knees. Riding like this can be surprisingly worthwhile. Just ask the Dad’s.