How to nail those long straight ruts that can be such a challenge.
STORY SHANE BOOTH | PHOTOGRAPHY iKAPTURE/GREG SMITH
KNOW YOUR LINE
Be sure to plan your lines and think ahead — that way it’s not a surprise when you come across ruts like this every lap. I know that sounds obvious but so many riders ride only to what they can see, so ruts like this don’t exist in their world until they actually see them each lap. If there are some deep unavoidable ruts, setting up for them will make life much easier. You also need to be accurate enough to hit the exact rut you want, not just end up in whichever one catches you each lap. Generally, there will be a better option and you want to be in that one every time. So think ahead and ride at a speed at which you can be accurate.
BOTH WHEELS IN
Get this bit right and the rest is much easier. This follows on from the previous point: if you’ve set up your line you should be able to flow into the rut you choose and have both wheels in line before you enter. If you haven’t set yourself up, you may end up trying to change lines at the last second, which will most likely result in you getting the front wheel in one rut and the rear in another. This is when you get off balance and have issues, maybe even crash. So get the approach right and get both wheels flowing into the rut you want.
LOOK TO THE END
Once you have both wheels in the rut, look out past the end no matter how long it goes for and pair that up with throttle to drive the bike out. Your vision is a powerful tool when you’re riding and this is a perfect time to use it. Look out the end of the rut and that’s where you’ll end up. Don’t look down into it or you’ll just make it seem harder than it needs to be.
LIFT THE FRONT WHEEL
In this shot you can see I’ve lifted the front wheel. This is a good technique to use when the ruts are a little deeper or are getting rough at the bottom. It works best when you can carry the front wheel in the air to the end of the rut; if you drop the front wheel before then, chances are it will miss the rut and you’ll end up cross rutted.
If you do get it a little wrong and end up with your wheels in two different ruts, it’s possible to save it. Get your weight to the inside, make sure you focus on keeping the front wheel pointed in the direction you need it to go and drive it out with the throttle. The other option you have is to get the front wheel in the air and try to carry it all the way out; this is risky, though, because if you don’t clear the end of the rut with the front wheel it will probably end up in a crash.