trail when that pesky mountain lion jumps at you from
the side of the trail. It was your peripheral vision that
sent a warning to your brain to either swerve or say your
prayers. No matter where you are looking, your peripheral vision is working. Since peripheral vision works automatically, you need to work on your long-range vision.
It is next to impossible to look too far ahead (your
peripheral vision picks up a lot of slack), so lift that chin;
quit looking at your front tire’s knobby pattern and focus
on the obstacles farther down the trail. The minute you
do, the benefits just pile up. Looking ahead allows you to
ride more relaxed. Seeing obstacles in the trail permits
you to ride smoother. Picking better lines (instead of
committing yourself to whatever appears in front of your
wheel) will save you energy. And all this reduces stress
on your bike, your suspension and your body.
You can improve your long-range vision (and riding
technique) through practice. You have to consciously
break your old habits by forcing yourself to look ahead.
There are plenty of little tricks to help you do this.
Check your lid: Put your helmet on. Stand up
straight and look ahead. Extend your arm, turn your
hand sideways, and stick out your index finger. Now,
raise your arm until your index finger is hidden by the
helmet (or the helmet’s visor). If your hand is lower than
the top of your helmet, your helmet is restricting your
field of view. It might not seem that bad while standing
upright, but when you are hunkered down on the bike, a
low visor or poorly adjusted helmet will severely limit
LOOK AHEAD Forward-thinking: This rider has sidestepped the nasty rocks and opted for the smooth groove. His line decision took place three seconds ago. He is now picking
where his bike will be three seconds from now.
Eight-lane highway: Even narrow
singletrack feels wide if your eyes
are focused down the trail. The
arrow shows approximately where
you should be looking if moving
along at around 15 mph.