Pro Riding Tips - Handling Big Rock Fields with Russ Pearson - Dirt Rider Magazine

Endless hordes of rocks can be terrifying. A miscue or bobble in the uneven environment can have you on your noggin or visiting your parts counter for new radiators. However, rock fields need not be treated as if they are minefields. Reigning Hare and Hound champion and desert ace Russ Pearson has some experience with this phenomenon. Here's how he negotiates the terrain obstacle.A. "As you enter a rocky garden such as this one, your first step should be to scan ahead and look for the best, smoothest line. Upon entering you should be standing and gripping the bike with your legs. This will keep the bike straight or somewhat straight, considering how gnarly the section is. You should be in the gear in which you have usable power; in this section, it was second and then first as it got rougher and rockier.B. "When the rocks get really bad, you'll find yourself looking at your front fender. Whenever you can take your eyes off the rocks right in front of you, scan ahead to find the smoothest lines available. But don't waste time just balancing, looking for the smoothest lines. Choose and attack a line and make quick work of it; you need to practice at home, so it comes naturally when it's race time.C. "Your body weight should be centered most of the time. Obviously, if there are some bigger rock ledges you need to get over, you will have to shift your weight back, give the bike a little extra gas and pull back so you don't find yourself going over the handlebar—that doesn't feel good.D. "Clutch action needs to be very smooth. I will run with my pointer and middle finger on the clutch at all times, so my bike doesn't stall out in a rough spot and to give it a smooth burst of power to get over an obstacle. I also keep my middle finger on the front brake for slowing down in a hurry.E. "Momentum is also a key factor in rocky sections. The bigger the rocks are, the more scared you may get because they can hurt you if you fall. But do not stop and panic; you need momentum to carry you through sections where your front end can drop, and you don't want the front end to find a hole that would cause you to wreck or come to a stop. You would lose time either way.F. "In a section where your front end can drop between big rocks, you will need to grip your bike to keep it straight, keep up your momentum and give the bike smooth bursts of controlled power by using your clutch and throttle to stay on top of the rocks. Remember, practice so in a race you will know your limits and hopefully come home with a first-place trophy ."