Choosing the best line is just one of the many last-minute, high-speed decisions professional racers make during an event. The ability to choose wisely comes with experience. In this example, we have a fairly rocky, rutted uphill that's not extremely difficult, but you can shave perhaps a second by selecting the fastest line up it. Otherwise, you'll ride through each rut or over every single rock, costing you time and increasing the fatigue factor.We asked defending GNCC champion Barry Hawk to show which line he'd pick and explain why. He then proceeded to demonstrate how he'd make the line work best for him. Granted, other people might have chosen a different line, and that's fine, but what Hawk showed us would certainly be a good starting point. As he notes, the physically smoothest line is actually off to the left in this situation, but getting to it in order to use it would mean scrubbing off a little too much speed. Thus, he opts to aim for a rock and jump over as much clutter as possible, feeling that doing so will save energy in the long run."Some guys may go faster through the rough stuff, but if you can conserve a bit of energy toward the end -instead of 30 hits in this case, you'll have only 10-you will save your body in the long run and carry a lot more speed," he says. "Especially in off-road events, there's always something such as this where you can kind of double up stuff. It's not a big supercross double, but little things the end of the race."Here, Hawk sets the scene, pointing out the single rock and the spot on that rock that he'll use as a ramp in order to jump over to the left-and smoother-side of the trail on this particular climb. "As I come around the corner , I see there are two or three options up through there," Hawk begins. "Many would tend to look for what's easiest, but I look for a little lip on a rock."I carry my momentum-not too fast but not too slow-and I'm pretty far back on the bike. I kind of jump over and try to keep the front end light. If you hit it too fast, there's a pretty good sized rock here you could nose into, which would get you in trouble. This move sets you up a lot better on the trail because then you're on the high side of the rocks and not in the rough stuff where all the cobblestones are. You can carry a lot more momentum farther down the trail." And again, Hawk warns against going too fast in this situation: "If you carry too much speed, instead of jumping the rock you might land off to the side of it-it doesn't have a perfectly flat face. I'm not too worried about the front end; I'm worried about the rear getting into that spot." Note that he's not actually jumping from the rock all the way to the top of the ledge where the smoother trail is. Instead, he's just getting his front wheel onto it; the rear wheel will actually land below it, since he's not hitting it at a high speed. This will prevent the rear end from bucking or otherwise misbehaving.