enter image description here

Any tips on riding this section of the trail? The land is sandy and the clearance afterwords is several meters.

I can't ride it slowly, as it is too steep and the sand will slide off. I suspect the suspension could probably handle the trench, but didn't try, let alone for jumping.

What is the correct way to pass this obstacle on a long-travel full-suspension bike? What about a rigid XC bike?

  • 1
    Is it too steep to walk down? The above is a recipe for a head-over. Commented May 12, 2014 at 11:32
  • 1
    @DanielRHicks, tried that, worked fine. The question is about riding down ;)
    – Vorac
    Commented May 12, 2014 at 12:45
  • 1
    Rode something simlar (but probably less steep) in rotovagas years ago - saw several endo's, broken bikes (no bones though I am sure it happened) and tachoed front wheels over a few visits from it. Either jump it completely (well beyond my skills) or controlled speed is the only way to ride it.
    – mattnz
    Commented May 12, 2014 at 22:54
  • 1
    I'm just thinking of a buddy that got a broken back from a similar setup. He was a skilled BMXer, in a race. Been in a wheelchair about 10 years now. Commented May 13, 2014 at 12:00
  • 3
    @DanielRHicks: You've mentioned this incident quite some times already. OP asks how to ride it out and not chicken it. Anecdotes of people hurting themselves badly may make you feel better (to compensate on lack of riding skills) but they do not add anything useful here.
    – cherouvim
    Commented May 14, 2014 at 3:35

4 Answers 4


When I come across something like that, instead of riding straight down the hill I will head down across the hill on a diagonal. You can carry more speed this way and you won't hit the far wall of the trench and risk being sent over the bars, when your bike comes to an immediate stop.

This goes for any type of bike, rigid or full suspension.

If the risk of crashing in the ditch is low, I'll go straight down the hill while managing my speed. When at the bottom, simply lift the front end enough to clear the far side of the trench. This of course requires quite a bit of effort and/or skill depending on the surface of the ground, the slope you are descending the size of the trench.

Alternatively, get enough speed and jump the entire thing.

  • That's a great idea. The worst that could happen is slide down into the trench (right?).
    – Vorac
    Commented May 13, 2014 at 10:02
  • 1
    That is pretty much the worst that could happen. A quick foot dab will easily save you. Much better option than going over the bars.
    – canadmos
    Commented May 14, 2014 at 2:30
  • 1
    From the diagram this is about the only way to get up the other side. Trying to jump would risk casing and from 5m it'd break a wheel or worst case a frame even. Trying to wheelie out would likely put you off the back of the bike. I'd tackle like any technical rolling drop, diagonally down while body right back over the wheel, then at the bottom out of the saddle and power up over the side of the trench. Would be slow but would carry momentum out and much faster than a dead stop or dropping the bike.
    – DWGKNZ
    Commented May 14, 2014 at 4:44

Tricky, assuming some accuracy in the scale of your drawing the trench is around half a meter across which means your front wheel wants to be climbing out while your back wheel is still descending. Riding a diagonal traverse could work if gradient and grip allow it, but if not you're just gonna slide, and if you slide near the top you're gonna slide a long way.

I'd try to roll in straight but lock the rear and slide in sideways at the end, leaving me riding along the trench. The trouble now is that climbing out on a traverse, on what is drawn as a very steep lip, is also gonna be hard. There might be a chance to ride along to a more forgiving line out. If not, or if the more forgiving line is still challenging, I might try to roll the front up the foot of the first slope before turning back towards the climb out to try and hit it as square as possible.

Obviously, there would be some unweighting/popping of the front, followed by rocking forward to haul the rear over, or actually sitting back for traction and powering out; depends on the exact nature of the slope where you climb out and how fast you hit it.

Plenty of places to fail there, but (I hope!) not too easy to get hurt!


You could try to wheelie the entire descent. This would at least avoid a flip-over, but you will probably lose most of you speed to the rear shock compression when you hit the ditch.


Pull hard just before hitting the 40cm obstacle and your MTB will handle the rest. It's best if you pull hard enough to make sure you hit the obstacle with both wheels. Expect both suspensions to bottom out.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.