Tips and tricks for riding McIntosh Run?

After what I felt was a disappointing performance on my part at Mac Run this morning, I can’t help but wonder if there’s something I’m missing here? I find it really tough to keep any sort of momentum, especially when dealing with step-ups in the trail that seem to stop me dead. Is it a classic case of “keep practicing” or is there any sort of tips/strategies people use when riding the granite?


Hard to say but I have found that being in a higher gear than you think you need is usually helpful even if the speed is slow. There is certainly a skill to negotiating ledges up and down. Correct body positioning is necessary (try lowering your seat if you need to). Also preloading and unloading the suspension is a great technique. I would recommend a course with a qualified instructor if you’re struggling. The rough terrain and ledges make for a serious workout so cut yourself a little slack.


Like @Coaster2 said, preloading and unloading your suspension makes a huge difference for getting up ledges and maintaining your speed. You want to apply pressure as you come up to a ledge and then pop the wheel up onto it. You then slam the rear wheel into the feature while pushing the bars ahead and rolling your wrists. Sounds ridiculous when described like that, but done as a single fluid movement, it’s insanely effective.

The other thing about that system is that it really rewards upper body fitness, more than almost anywhere. Strong shoulders, triceps and chest are very helpful in managing the beating it takes on you.

Find a smaller ledge and practice getting up onto it. Then work your way up. As you get more proficient, you’ll be surprised what you can get up without getting out of sorts.

It’s not just the ups that help you keep the flow too. Being able to negotiate the small and mid sized drops to flat and keeping your speed ensures you don’t need to pedal as hard to keep up.


Fitness and practice will of course always help. Another helpful tip is to ride with other riders (especially better ones) and see how they tackle each feature.

However, I would also suggest working on technique. There are certainly times where you just need to get out the saddle and hammer up a section. Or really using your upper body to muscle over something. But that can be very tiring. Maybe check out something like this:

This guy Aaron was a pro trials rider, but lately he’s been putting out videos on how to use trials skills on a mountain bike. I’ve been trying to learn trials for the last 3 years, and I’m surprised how much more efficiently I can get around McRun now without always resorting to power moves. Plus, it absolutely ups your confidence when you have better control of your bike.


Can you give an example of a section of trail or features your struggling with?


This is very much the next phase of how to get up obstacles after you master what I described above. Awesome visuals. You can really see how he compresses the suspension in the rear just before launching up onto the highest obstacle. He is then able to spring out of it and gain height onto the top surface. Takes a lot of practice, but it definitely saves a ton of energy when trying to get up ledges.


If I had to pick, I would say climbing over rock ledges, along with climbing slabs are my most challenging trail features. I don’t have the technique down for the ledges, so that’s a clear area for practice. When I try to climb up the slabs, I catch myself needing to get out of the saddle to put the power down, but then my back wheel loses traction. I wonder if my tire pressure is too high? Likewise I find myself absolutely gassed after each punchy climb, so I assume that’s just a matter of me being out of shape. I’m ok with doing consistent moderate effort, but the high intensity bursts needed to navigate these obstacles really push my cardio limits.

Edit: Otherwise, I think trail familiarity is an issue for me, because I find it very common to come across sharp turns or sudden feature changes that are masked by blind turns. Not knowing what’s coming prevents me from setting up how to tackle such features. I can’t think of specific examples because honestly, most of the blue runs in the heart of the trail system all look the same to me :sweat_smile:.

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As everyone else has mentioned, it’s a difficult trail system so don’t be too worried if you’re struggling to keep momentum. I’ve found over the years that it really helps to get to know the trails by riding them a few times. After a while you’ll start to get more and more familiar with the corners, the ledges, the climbs—you’ll start knowing what gear to be in, when to drop your seat for a technical descent or corner, and what speed to hit that ledge to keep your momentum without damaging your rear wheel. I’ve sessioned features that I’ve struggled with in the past to help link everything together, too. As far as climbs, I used to plain old have too hard of compound tires that would give out when putting the power down on climbs and slide out on off camber sections, so the right tire choice and tire pressure may help you!


Was thinking about this on my ride today.

On top of what Lance has mentioned, I find the more you get to know it the more you subconsciously recover in key areas and prep when you need to be explosive.

Learn to conserve and recover while moving, it goes along way.



Out of the saddle efforts can be very tiring. Full suspension bikes don’t like to be ridden out of the saddle either. Best to stay seated climbing on full suspension and spin up. Lean forward, keep your chest close to the handlebar to keep the front wheel from popping up. Pull on the handlebar to drive the rear wheel into the ground at the same time.

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