Story by Jake Stapleton
Photos by Jeff Morgan
Rock steps can be tricky business, especially if they are close together. I’m sure most of us have been stuck on one section of rock steps or another. Most of the time we end up pushing our guts out to get up that last step or end up having to give up mid-way and go all the way to the bottom to try again. Not only does this waste precious seconds (or minutes!), it also gives our riding confidence a knock, leaving us riding with our skirts on for the rest of the day. So, to avoid that pink frilly one (unless you’re into that kinda thing), follow these simple steps and apply the golden word – “commitment.”
It doesn’t matter whether you find yourself facing a whole bunch of small steps, or a couple larger ones, the plan remains the same: take as many steps as possible in one stride. Or, in riding terms, get your front wheel up as many steps as possible in one wheelie.
To break it down for you...
Step 1: Find the Line
Like any other obstacle, you need to find the right line for the job. The thing you want to remember when picking a line on steps is to pick the line that will set you up as straight as possible, allowing you to stay straight (perpendicular) over the steps. Try to avoid anything that might throw your line off at the base, such as loose rocks, tree roots, etc. Once you’ve eyed up your line, you can start the approach.
Step 2: The Approach
Okay boys and girls, it’s time to commit. As you approach the stairs, you must have the confidence that you will make it up. You should have your line selected and be able to picture where you are going to put your wheels. Most importantly, you want to know exactly where your front wheel is going to land. Obviously, you will need decent momentum coming in. Momentum could be your saviour if things don’t go exactly as planned, which sometimes they don’t. Ride in a standing neutral position with knees and elbows slightly bent.
Step 3: Skip the Ledges
As mentioned, ideally you want to jump up over the first or first couple of steps. This is not always possible so, in this case, you should at least wheelie up the first step. Either way, the main objective is to get your front wheel high. To do this, give the clutch and throttle a nice controlled flick. Your weight should be slightly to the back. You will need to use the clutch and rear brake to control the height of the wheelie. As the rear wheel makes contact with each step, the front end will want to slam down. This means that you will need to stay committed, keep your weight back, keep a small, smooth amount of gas on and stay focused on where you want your front wheel to land.
Step 4: The Placement
Placing the front wheel exactly on the spot you’ve been eyeing up is key. Your target spot should be the tip of the last step. Obviously, if you land it short and plough into the next step, you could be in for a nice trip over the hangers. Having said that, you also don’t want to carry the front too far over the step. Doing so will result in you slamming your frame rails with the same end result: a nice trip over the hangers.
Step 5: The Grand Finale
This part is simple; really, you’re basically using the same technique as you would to get up any ledge; i.e., you’re pretty much at the second blip of a double blip.
All you need to do is give a second controlled flick of the clutch and throttle and stay on the pegs. If your momentum is lacking coming into the last step, you can help the bike up with the use of your body weight. As the rear contacts the edge, dig your heels into the frame and allow your body weight to be transferred forward. This will kind of pull the bike up that last little bit.
Once you’re on the top, turn around and enjoy the entertainment of your buddies trying to make it up.