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How to ride long ruts | How To

Most of us can hit a rut and come blasting out of it like a pro, providing the rut is only a few metres long and not surrounded by trees.

But railing a rut in the bush that is 20 metres long with lots of overhanging branches is another kettle of fish. I’ve tried and failed many times because I don’t have the talent and the kahunas to hit a long bush rut with the momentum needed.
They are often found in cross-country races and can be a serious time waster if you can’t nail them every time. The technique Ben Grabham explains here is slightly different to blasting out of a short, 90-degree rut. 

Unless you’re Daniel Milner you’re probably going to need to sit through the rut. Standing is the best position if you can stay standing until the end but if you can’t, look ahead and work out where you are going to get back on the seat. Grabbo suggests dropping back on the seat a few metres before the corner, providing there are no nasty bumps. This will put you in a good position for a long corner.

Make sure you have spotted the end of the rut before you enter the corner and get off the brakes with enough momentum to rail through the rut at speed. You do not want to have to build speed midway through a long rut as you’re likely to stand up. Finish your braking before the corner starts so you can hold a consistent throttle all the way through.

Prepare for the corner like you would any other rut with your inside leg out in front of you, your toe pointed slightly towards the fork and you weight on the outside of the seat. Keep you outside elbow high and, if it is a left-hand corner like this one, you can actually use the rear brake like Grabbo is in our main photo, as well as the throttle to settle the rear-end (that is a technique for another time).

To ensure you carry momentum through the turn, make sure you are in a tall gear which means your revs will be low and the bike will be lugging rather than revving. This ensures your acceleration is not jerky and, if you get off the throttle, it doesn’t engine brake hard and knife the front. For this corner Grabbo is in third gear and holding it just off idle.

Remember to keep your head up and look toward the end of the rut. Keep your throttle in the same position as you coast through the rut.
Keep your body in the same position as discussed in #3 at all times and if you feel the bike starting to lowside, pick up your throttle just a little bit. The faster and more consistent you are on the throttle, the easier it will be to balance all the way through the corner.

A long rut in the bush will take a fair bit of practice. It is likely to stand you up at some stage or lowside. Keep adjusting your speed until you nail the rut without either of these things happening and then build your rut speed so you can slingshot out. Remember to keep your body forward over the front of the bike and do not slouch or lean to the inside. Editor Mitch Lees

While discussing this technique over a kebab, Grabbo said he sees so many people getting stood up in ruts because their throttle, momentum and entry speed are all wrong. He said riders come into ruts in the wrong gear and then attempt to rail through by sporadically applying more throttle. This does not work. Here are three important tips to remember when hitting long bush ruts.
Momentum is your friend: You will need more speed than you think for long ruts so don’t be afraid to carry a little more throttle. 
Trail that throttle: It is okay to trail a little bit of throttle while setting up your braking as this means you will not need to adjust it as you enter.
Clutch it: If you feel the bike starting to stand up or tuck the front, rather than back off which will stuff your momentum, grab a little clutch so the bike will keep moving.


Advanced. This tip is going to be most helpful for off-road racers.
Off-road racing 
Begin with a rut that isn’t too long or too deep, so you can pop out of it. Then progress onto longer and deeper ruts.
No shapes or sizes are at an advantage.
Unless you hit a tree, the chance of injury is most likely to come from getting the inside leg caught.
Unless your name is Geoff Braico, self-proclaimed rut king, no one will notice but the stopwatch will.