If you want to Master riding a Mountain Bike or a Motocross Bike on a wide range of terrain and conquer obstacles that either previously stopped you in your tracks or had you jumping off your bike, then you need to practice the art of Scanning! Scanning is the one thing that makes an average rider good and a good rider GREAT!

Scanning or “reading” the trail in front of you is one of the most critical skills you can learn to be a GREAT Rider and because it’s not some big flashy skill like jumping or bunny hopping it is often neglected, not thought of, and simply not used.

Scanning is looking ahead to allow your mind AND therefore body, to adjust to the trail changes that are coming up so that your riding is smoother and so that you can tackle obstacles previously out of your ability range simply because your mind and body are ready for them. It’s the act of looking ahead to see what obstacles are coming up so that you can prepare for them and tackle them having organized yourself on the bike beforehand.

Using a process of scanning from where you normally spend most of your time looking which is right in front of you, to anywhere up to 20 meters ahead of you (depending on terrain and line of sight) for mountain bikers and 50 meters for Motocross riders will give you the following 3 benefits:

It allows you to prepare for what is coming up.

Most riders dismount when faced with an obstacle simply because they are either not in the right gear or their body is not in the correct position to handle the obstacle. When you start the process of scanning, your mind, which as we know works at the speed of light, is taking in the information and will have you making automatic adjustments to gears and body position almost as if you were programmed to do so.

Hills are the best examples of this. If you are riding down a hill and scanning instead of looking at your front wheel, not only will your body position be ready for any impending holes, ruts or drop offs, but you will see any sharp climbs coming and adjust gearing to suit so that if the descent changes abruptly to a steep climb, you will have selected a very low gear and placed yourself in an attacking hill climbing position therefore avoiding dismounting and interrupting your flow.

Your wheels go where you are looking

It’s a scientific fact that if you are looking at something and moving towards it you will go to where you are looking. So for example you are riding a single track along an edge of a hill and there is a steep drop off to your right and you are looking at the steep drop, looking at the steep drop, looking at the steeeeeeeeeeeep drop, well you get the message. You will end up over the steep drop. The key is to look where you want to go, not where you don’t want to go. Your bike will track directly to where you are looking.

Your eyes control your body

Using a corner as an example and referring to one of my past students in the photo, Rachel Edwards who is a World 24hr Mountain Bike solo championship runner up, once your eyes are looking through the corner in this example, your body automatically follows and puts itself in the position it needs to go. It’s an amazing phenomenon but as soon as you start to look through the corner, your body automatically leans in, your shoulder drops a little and as you turn your head your whole body automatically starts to rotate. When your body rotates the bike goes with you around the corner and you therefore execute the corner better. This applies to other obstacles as well like a log across the trail, once you see it you get into the attack position, select a good gear and approach to either bunny hop or ride up and over it.

Start scanning today, it will make you a smoother, faster rider, you will enjoy your riding more because you are no longer getting off your bike as much and you will begin to not fall and take control of your riding.

Happy scanning and have an AWESOME ride today!

Zero 2 Hero is a team of world class coaches dedicated towards massively improving ride technique, bike control and speed. Coaching is performed for riders of all levels including those who have never ridden a bike before (Level Zero) up to specialized racing techniques (Level Hero) all in just One Day. Visit their website at www.zero2hero.asia for more info.