Off-Road Pro Riding Secrets: Bulldogging with Steve Hatch - Dirt Rider Magazine

We're fairly certain that it was Dick Burleson who pointed out that gravity will always get you down a hill. Whether you get down safely, of course, is another matter.Few of us possess the skill of guys like DB or Steve Hatch (of the Kawasaki team), who rarely have to bulldog their bikes down a hill. But in the interest of having a hero show how it's done, we recruited Hatch to demonstrate what he'd advise the nervous dirt rider to do when it comes to walking the bike down rather than riding it."First, you'll want to make sure you can't ride down, because that's a lot easier, obviously," Hatch declares. "But if you have to bulldog, you'll definitely want to take the straightest and easiest line that you can."A. THE RIGHT WAY: Here, as on many tricky downhills that persuade riders to walk, there are multiple ruts. First of all, kill the engine and get off the bike on the highest side of the trail. "Stay in the rut," Hatch advises. "You'll want to keep both hands on the handlebar. I'd leave it in gear so if it does begin to take off, it's not going to go too fast (all you will have to do is let out the clutch). Keep the front brake on the whole time, staying off to one side or the other—whichever side would be easiest to walk smoothly down. Slowly and easily go down. That's kind of the key: Hold on to the front brake and try to modulate your speed. (If it's steep and slippery enough, leave the clutch alone; the back tire will skid along and help provide some braking.) It's better to stop often and ease your way down the hill if you get into a crazy spot. After you get to a safe spot, make sure you get your leg over the bike and go on down the hill."B. THE WRONG WAY: "Most people get going too fast then lose their footing and slip. Then they lose their bike, and it goes down the hill too fast without them—or with 'em tangled in it! If you get out of the rut, that's the worst thing because then it's slippery; even walking is hard."