Big berms are easy to ride but difficult to ride fast. Maintaining your speed throughout the berm or even accelerating out is the goal here. With so much room on big berms, it is very easy to enter or exit in the wrong spot and get off line throughout the berm. The entry point, holding a smooth line and exiting at the right place and time are what matter most. Use your exit speed to judge how well you have done throughout the berm and as always, practice makes perfect. Here’s how to get it done.
Step 1 - Spot your entry and adjust your speed
Chances are you’ll be coming in hot. This means looking up well ahead and judging your speed accordingly. With big berms you really need to control your entry speed, as braking hard in the berm is a sure fire way to encourage a high speed washout. Brake early, spot your entry and aim as high as possible.
Step 2 - Look ahead at your line
Once you are in the berm, look ahead at the line you are going to ride. It’s important to hold a nice, smooth arc throughout the berm – you don’t want to be making adjustments once you are on the berm. To help achieve this, be strong on the bike, bend your legs and be heavy on the pedals to push your weight through the bike.
Step 3 - Stay strong and heavy
Hold your line and keep weighting the bike. On this particular berm, I’ve left my cranks level to help push my weight through the bike. If the berm were flatter, I would begin to drop my outside foot to add some traction, but on the big bad berms where you are pulling some G’s, you’ll need both your legs to hold you up- the G force combined with your weight should give you all the traction you need. You certainly don’t want to be sitting down at any stage through a berm!
Step 4 - Get off the brakes!
It sounds simple really but in practice it’s quite a challenge. Once you are locked into a big berm, it’s important to stay off the brakes as much as possible to maintain your speed. Consciously telling yourself to let off the brakes as much as you are comfortable with is a great way to gain some valuable seconds in a race situation.
Step 5 - Spot your exit and hold your line
Spot your exit point as soon as possible while still holding your line. For the exit, you should be looking to continue your nice, smooth arc which you started at the entry of the berm. At this point, try to avoid the temptation to turn in and exit at a low point- this is an easy way to scrub speed. Use the whole berm and run wide to hold your speed if the trail allows.’
Step 6 - Look up and see what’s next
By the time you are exiting you should already be looking ahead at what’s next on the trail. Here you can see a slight left which I’ll need to get high for. At this point I’m already looking at the apex of the next turn and adjusting my exit to suit. Get off the brakes early, look up and plan accordingly.