Words: Jared Rando

Photos: Nick Waygood

The skills which carry across from wall rides are really valuable at times on technical and tight trails where you might have to take a high line to get a good entry into a corner over some banked up terrain, or a rock face. There are a lot of natural wall rides out there. It’s certainly something that’s far from common but knowing how to ride a wall ride will give you a good understanding of entry angles, traction, approach and exit on specific terrain. That and it’s also great fun to have a play on when you do come across one!

A lot of riders will be highly intimidated when they come across a wall ride and for good reason – getting it wrong can have things turning pear shaped fairly quickly and when wall rides bite, they tend to do so with a vengeance so it’s definitely a skill for intermediate riders and above. Being confident at riding big berms at moderate to high speed is an important learning curve on your progression to tackling wall rides as this will give you an understanding of lean angles and traction on the wall. Here’s some tips for what to do when the time comes to give it a go.

Step 1 – It’s all about the approach

This is where it all goes wrong for most first attempts. Much like a berm, it’s the outward force of your tyres which is going to hold you up so you need to approach at a sharper angle than you might think, especially on flat wall rides. Think about a rainbow painted on the wall ride and that’s the path you want to follow. Start with a small rainbow and as you get confident, aim to increase the size but in effect you’ll want to start out with at least a 45 degree approach up the face. Any less and you’ll simply slide down.

Step 2 – Be gentle with your front tyre

Another common mistake is to have little to no input on the bike as you start the wall ride. You need to be light on the front tyre and “pull” your front wheel onto the wall. Too much force will see your front tyre skimming down the wall and a solid shoulder charge into the wall will follow! Maintain focus on your line and pull back with the aim of gently placing your tyre on the wall. Having the rear tyre hit hard is less of an issue. At the same time think about leaning away from the wall like you would when riding a berm. This will direct the force outwards rather than downwards which will give you traction on the wall.

Step 3 – Follow the rainbow!

Once you are on the wall you’ll need to follow the curved line you envisaged earlier. A lot of riders get caught out and continue to shoot up the wall until they stop and simply slide down. Start small and once you get a feel for it you can go with bigger arks. As you ride the curve focus on your exit point coming off the wall as you do need to steer down the wall to get there and remember to ride it like a berm, pushing your weight into the wall rather than towards the trail.

Step 4 – Lift off the wall

Much like entering the wall ride, you also need to “lift” your front tyre off the wall ride for a smooth transition to the trail and much like entering, the emphasis needs to be on your front wheel and your rear is far less important. Focus on your exit point and pull back for a smooth transition. The cool thing about this is it gives you a little boost of extra speed on the transition as well which is a great technique when transferring this technique to high entry points into corners on the trail. You effectively want to use the same technique as you would on a really smooth jump landing. Stay light on the bike and use your body to absorb the impact rather than your suspension.

Step 5 – Focus on a gentle landing

As you come off the wall, focus on a smooth and gentle landing and being centred on the bike. Aim to absorb the landing with your legs rather than your arms and also bringing your bike to an upright position. Keep looking up and scanning ahead during the process. It’s quite easy to get thrown off at a funny angle as you exit so focus on your line as soon as you touch down at the end of the rainbow. And, if by chance there’s a pot of gold there, even better.