A switchback is a type of trail that you’ll come across when driving up a hill or mountain. A switchback zigzags back and forth and has sharp corners. This man-made travel pattern reduces the steepness of sloping terrain for riders. Additionally it prevents trail erosion because storm water will follow the flow of the trail rather than running straight down the mountainside, eroding the hill and the trail.
When riding switchbacks, make sure you:
- Avoid spin-outs by making smooth, controlled corner turns and remembering to shift your body weight into the turn.
- Try not to ‘roost’ at the top of a turn (this is when you spray dirt like a rooster tail behind you).
- Avoid brake sliding when descending a switchback. This will create a gouge in the trail which is bad for the trail conditions, bad for the the environment, and is disrespectful for other riders.
RIDER SAFETY TIP: TURN TOO TIGHT?
If you come across a switchback turn that’s too tight to get around safely, ride until your front wheel is touching the inside (or apex) of the turn, then put the transmission in neutral, set the parking brake and dismount the machine. Then put the back end of the machine toward the outside of the turn to widen the angle, remount and continue on your way!