Whether you’re a beginner who wants to get their wheels under them or an experienced rider who wants to push their riding by trying something you’re unfamiliar with, new trails with features you haven’t ridden before are a great way to expand your toolbox of mountain biking skills.
If you don’t know what the names of those features mean though you’re going to waste time looking for what you’re comfortable with riding, and when you’re riding somewhere with as many incredible trails as there are in Mammoth Lakes, wasting time is a big mistake. To help out, the ASO Mammoth team has put together a quick guide to mountain bike trail features so you can ride what you want, when you want. Check it out below!
Berms are a great feature to look for because they can be found on maintained trails inside of mountain bike parks as well as trails out in the backcountry since they’re easy to build.
More importantly, Berms are a ton of fun to ride and once you master them they can open up other features for you. Berms are raised dirt banks that line turns on a trail and give the opportunity to actually gain speed when going through a turn. Make sure you have enough speed and then hit the berm high, lean, and finish low to leave the turn with speed.
Rock gardens are simply areas on the trail where several medium to large sized rocks are spread out over the path. Rock gardens can be a ton of fun to pick your way through and you can even find drops in them, but to do any of that you must pick your line first.
Don’t be afraid to walk through a rock garden or take a practice run before hitting it at full speed. As long as you stay aware and don’t block any other riders on the trail, you should pick your line and spot where you’re going to ride. Once you have your line picked out, keep your weight centered and your feet in neutral and ride your line.
Don’t confuse a drop with a jump or a rolldown. A drop is a sudden fall in the trail that requires both wheels to leave the ground. The most common form of drops you’ll see is rocks that have a steep face which spans the entire trail.
Scout out drops beforehand and make sure that you’re completely comfortable hitting them. Once you’ve made up your mind, approach the drop with your hips pushed back, weight on your feet, and body low and centered with enough speed so your front wheel stays level with your back once it leaves the surface. Use your legs as shock absorbers so that you don’t land heavy and then roll away from your landing.
A jump is a feature where a ramp with a lip has been constructed on the trail. That may sound simple, but there are several different types of landings that can complicate jumps. The first step to hitting a jump is making sure that you’re ready to hit a jump. You need to have the basics mastered before your wheels start leaving the ground. Don’t rush this part. Once you’re sure that you’re ready to take on a jump, you’ll need to practice your bunny hops so your form is perfect by the time you’re hitting the lips of the jump.
Never ride beyond your comfort zone. It may be tempting to try and push yourself quickly and learn on the fly, but the best way to make sure your skills last is to slowly progress until you’ve mastered the basics.