I have come to believe that the major skill when riding singletrack is scanning the terrain. After any turn there could be a hiker, a fallen log or just a boulder that you didn't memorize during the last pass. From then on, the reflexes, embedded in the muscle memory, kick in and braking/turning/dabbing/hopping occur.

I attempt to look as far forward as speed dictates, and not to get fixated on obstacles. Still, the perpetual concentration becomes tiring after a couple of hours.

Any tips on both how to both improve scanning at high speeds and how to become less fatigued by a whole day of riding?

  • 2
    Its the same way you get to Carnegie Hall.....
    – Criggie
    Commented Jun 29, 2016 at 9:31
  • 1
    @Criggie - take the bus? ;)
    – FreeMan
    Commented Jul 5, 2016 at 20:27
  • @FreeMan It a joke so old it was on the Muppet Show in the 70s. The answer is "Practice, practice, practice." Not given as an answer cos OP has a point, in that practicing bad habits is counterproductive.
    – Criggie
    Commented Jul 6, 2016 at 0:51
  • 1
    Yes, yes, @Criggie, that's why the "winkey" was there... bork, bork, bork!
    – FreeMan
    Commented Jul 6, 2016 at 11:40

3 Answers 3


Just keep on doing what you're doing.

To get good at anything, the easiest way is to keep doing that thing.

As an aside, I find I descend a lot quicker when I'm wearing a cap with the peak down. I think that having the peak in my field of view forces me to keep my head up.

  • 2
    I've noticed I'm going faster when wearing helmet - it has a peak too, so maybe it's the same effect
    – k102
    Commented Jun 28, 2016 at 7:50
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    @k102 ....or risk compensation. Commented Jul 5, 2016 at 14:28

Some suggestions:

Follow someone else who better than you. Try to keep up - you'll be looking at where they are, ahead of you helps you anticipate whats coming up.

Ride the same track in the dark, and its a whole new experience. Your light only throws so far - even the best ones only reliably show up 20 metres ahead and that tends to be a spot not a flood.

Lower your saddle a bit - less aero and more upright will help a bit.

  • 1
    Mmm, not sure about this, you'll be looking at another rider not the terrain. Learning to look past the rider in front is worth practising - but that's not what you're advocating. Also the riding in the dark will teach you to focus on what's lit, not necessarily what needs looking at, and could be counterproductive. Commented Aug 5, 2019 at 12:22

Don't just look.
You can look by just moving your eyes.
No, looking's not enough - you want to look.

Don't point your eyes, don't even just point your head - point your chin where you want to go - you want your head up and leading your body. Every few seconds scream "LOOK!!" in your head (or out loud, doesn't matter to me) - and then look*. (Not just look.)

(*With your chin.)

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