River crossings can be part of mountain biking - especially when your mountain bike adventure takes you further afield. We heard from Rocky Trail Entertainment's Martin Wisata about his river fording tips.
Crossing a river on a bike ride or a bike race can be done in a variety of ways. If you don't know how deep it is, you're best to judge on the conditions. Flood conditions would make it obvious - turn around! Longer river crossings with still water might be best crossed on foot, even with your shoes off if you think you'll have better traction on a sandy abse or smooth river rocks.
Sometimes there will be some stones to use to cross - or who knows, even a bridge.
Martin Wisata recently took part in the Mongolia Bike Challenge, and raced hard and fast across the Mongolian steppe, and sometimes river crossings were frequent. Martin took the method of riding through puddles and not widening trails, and applied it to river crossings.
Martin Wisata's river crossing tips
"1. Don't be a sheep and follow the lines already on the ground. Very often the better line is the one less used. Where the water runs quicker it's usually shallower. Through the middle is generally deeper.
2. Don't dive-bomb into it unless you know what's underneath. You will avoid flats and crashes that way. if the water is murky you need to be ultra-cautious. Gear appropriately, as riding through water is hard going, you'll be pushing a low cadence too if it's deep like this with water against your legs.
3. Choose a pretty low gear and once in the water and start to power out. I find yelling at myself helps. You really don't want to lose it now.
4. Try and make it to the other side but if not just hop off and walk. There is no shame in that. Keep in mind that when you cross one or many rivers you will wash off all the lube off your drivetrain and it will become noisy after a while - not to mention your bottom bracket and hub bearings. Carrying your bike through the river or re-lubing at the next pit stop is a good idea."
So will you ride the next river you see, or just take it cautiously?