5 Tips On How To Ride Slick Mud With Russell Bobbitt
A few months ago we were way south of the border in Costa Rica with the Costa Rica Unlimited crew riding with five-time National Enduro champion Russell Bobbitt. Other than great memories, cool photos, and about a hundred bug bites, we also came away with some riding tips from the likable Georgian. In fact, when asked what he thought about the slick, hard, rutted clay we were riding in, Russell said it reminded him of home. So here are some general tips from Russell for riding in slick conditions whether it be hard, slimy clay or loose, gooey mud.
“Momentum is always your best friend. Whether you are trying to go fast or just make it up a technical hill. There are even instances where momentum will actually help you ride down a hill better as well. Consider a wet red-clay hill. We encountered plenty of these in Costa Rica, and one of the biggest hardships I witnessed from riders were their descending skills. Sometimes trying to go too slow downhill can make things extra difficult. Your tires pack up with mud and you begin to fight the bike and overwork the brakes. The best way is to let the bike roll without gaining too much speed. If possible let the engine do the the majority of the braking for you and you will keep the bike in more control! Also be very careful with the front brake! One small grab too much and the front will knife and take you down faster than you can say, ‘Pura vida!’ On especially steep descents I like to shut the engine off and let the clutch out slowly, using it as brake,while still modulating both the front and rear brakes. This way you don’t have to try to keep the engine running and you get more control over your rear wheel than just locking up the brakes.”
“Keeping a steady throttle is key in slick conditions and on wet terrain. Erratic throttle makes the bike act differently and can throw the suspension into less than desired actions too. You want to aim to have the wheel spinning and hooking up and driving as much as possible while limiting slip. Wide-open throttle throws traction out the window because the wheel will just be spinning! Applying the gas smoothly will keep the bike going straighter and acting much more consistent.”
“We crossed lots of rivers and streams in the jungle. Some can be intimidating, especially when the water is murky and you can’t see what is below the surface. I like to approach the crossing cautiously, and if you are unsure, get off and walk the rapids before just sending it across! You will thank yourself when you find the extra deep hole to avoid or which line has the smallest rocks. Stay limber and in a shallow squat or seated depending on what’s more comfortable for you. Then be sure to have the ability to dab or step off the bike upriver if necessary so that if you fall over or the water is strong, that it won’t trap you under the bike downriver. Make sure to keep a steady speed and try to stop, but not so fast that you are splashing over the grips.”
“The only time you should be slamming on the brakes is when you are initiating a pivot turn for a tight area. All other times smooth front and rear braking simultaneously is the best approach. Slamming on the brakes can make for sudden loss of traction and make the bike knife in the front or skate out in the rear and high-side you quickly.”
“Your vision and where you are looking dictates your speed and line choice. If you are looking and get hung up on a massive root in the trail, it will probably have your number! Look ahead and consciously try to plan for what is ahead. You will already unconsciously be overcoming obstacles underneath you. When you approach a corner look to the end of it, when you come to a nasty rooty section look past it, and when you are approaching a hill look to the top of it and take yourself all the way there.”