Negotiating streams...

scarbs85 Posts: 170
edited March 2011 in MTB beginners
Went for a quick ride this morning, and ended up going through some woods. Well it had several small stream crossings, which are pretty shallow. The pedal was touching the water at full extension. The banks are quite steep though, and have a small "drop off" down to the water level, making it trickier getting out at the far bank. Except for one groove where bikes have obviously worn into the bank. The grooves are deeper than my pedal clearance, so can't pedal up them.

I think I could get across such an obstacle if it wasn't for the stream (or certainly try), but I'm reluctant to go at it because of the water. If I get stuck trying to climb my bike onto the far bank then its wet feet. I can take wet feet, it's not going to kill me. But for some reason my mind just keeps saying NO and I knew I was going at it too cautiously.

As soon as I get chance, I'm going back for round 2 to have a proper whack at them. MTFU and all that. But for now I was just wondering if there is a technique to crossing water obstacles, or if its just a case of ignoring the water and riding it like you normally would do?


  • No point in having an MTB and riding in a nice field, go for it.
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  • lift the front wheel as you go through water/puddles/streams to keep speed up.
  • Water is always a problem - streams hide all manner of ouchy obstacles - sand traps, rocks, gravel etc...
    Transitioning into water is always easier than getting out, unless you have a nice easy ramp to get out again.
    Going in, lift the front wheel so you don't dig into any gravel traps and endo. Try to hit the water/stream-bed with both wheels at the same time or the rear first. Too much though and the front may dig in as it comes down again...
    Coming out make sure you're in a low-ish gear: your wet tyres won't grip as well, especially if others have made the bank wet already - if you don't have pedal clearance either side, you have to make sure you have enough momentum built up to get you up and out, otherwise you're stuffed. Again, lift the front to get a head-start up the bank and dig in hard with the pedals - the problem is that the ground under you may shift, losing all the energy from that pedal stroke digging you into the stream-bed.
    A lot of XC riders prefer to dismount and run across if the transition 'out' is steep and narrow or the stream bed is treacherous - i'm one of them...
  • bluechair84
    bluechair84 Posts: 4,352
    Lincoln!? Unlucky. I just managed to get out of there as far as Newark. Know of any decent trails between the two?

    As for your problem, you could lower the pressure in your back tyre to give you a touch more traction. Or fill them with helium and try to float across? After you've attempted the crossing once you'll be able to judge what speed is best.
  • scarbs85
    scarbs85 Posts: 170
    Arkady, thanks for the indepth reply! I will take it all on board, try it, and come home victorious. Or wet and bruised. Maybe both? :lol:

    Sorry, I've only just started working out a few routes and things and haven't headed as far as Newark yet. I've not been back in Lincoln long, but if I find anything exciting out that way I will let you know. Lincoln has plenty of bridleways and countryside to ride on, it's just a shame it's all flat :(
  • Shaggy_Dog
    Shaggy_Dog Posts: 688
    A lot of it is in the mind, if you think you may fail, you inevitably will. There's a particular obstacle on my local trail that's really just a piece of cake but because I've not made it a couple of times it plagues me, when I'm in the right mindset I clean it easily, if I overthink it, I mess it up.
    I had to beat them to death with their own shoes...
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  • miss notax
    miss notax Posts: 2,572
    For streams that have a nice approach and a rideable way out, speed is your friend otherwise you run the risk of grinding to a halt mid stream whch will result in wet feet. For streams that don't have a nice approach or rideable exit, I find throwing my bike over and jumping to be the best solution :lol:

    And remember that they can be a lot deeper than they look - I have seen some truly hilarious sights as people wheelie into them and then disappear :lol:

    But avoid what I did last time, which was letting one of my gentlemanly buddies (not my other half who had buggered off :roll: ) give me a hand across, who then promptly pulled me across the stream through a tree resulting in a nice cut across my face. Lovely :evil:

    (I ride in the New Forest and there are LOTS of streams... :shock: )
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  • punkatron1
    punkatron1 Posts: 134
    never cross the streams.
    Too many bikes, not all fully built.
  • always a risk crossing a stream on a bike, get off and push
    anthem x with many upgrades