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Racing, riding and adventure by bike

How to HAB on the Big HuRT

There have been lots of things written about cycling over the years, however not very many of them apply to the Big HuRT. In the immortal words of AK “It isn’t a mountain bike race. I don’t know what it is, but it isn’t a mountain bike race”.

Like pedalling a bike, carrying it up a technical section of trail is quite the art form. Now I’m not saying I have it mastered, nor am I saying I am particularly good at it, nor am I saying I was the one to figure this stuff out,  but i’ve done it quite a bit and there are a few techniques that make life a whole lot easier when the going gets HuRTy,

Of course, there is the fancy euro across the shoulder technique (@ 1:05) which looks rad on film and works perfectly above the treeline but it doesn’t help you very much on tree-lined, ridiculously steep, rocky stairs where your bars, wheels, cranks and god knows what else tangle on trees at every given opportunity. So here is what I do:

1. Push wherever possible. Carrying your bike means your supporting its weight and tiring muscles in the process. Wherever it’s possible I favour walking next to the bike rather than carrying, but some times you get stuck in wheel stopping rock formations or having to scramble over boulders – in which case you need to use the De Bellin (so called because Matt De schooled B-rad in this particular portage method on the original HuRT and the name just stuck). I tend to push from the non-drive side but on AZTR i suspect part of my knee issues came about because i’m not an ambi-pusher (and there is plenty of pushing going on in AZTR). Change sides a bit to give muscles and tendons a break.

2. How I carry the bike depends on whether I am going uphill or downhill.

If I am going uphill, I position the bike as per B-rad’s example below:  Seat over the shoulder – carry arm grabbing the chain stay. The beauty of this is it keeps the front wheel out of the way behind you. The bike falls in a really nice angle to keep the wheels clear of obstacles as you ascend. The handlebars tend to waggle around behind you but never really seem to cause an issue. I’ve snagged the bars far less frequently with this method than any other.

If I am going downhill, I position the bike as per B-rad’s example in the photo below:

In this method I tend to hook the saddle over my shoulder and grab the downtube with my carry hand so the bike hangs at a 45 degree angle with the front wheel nice and low. The front wheel tends to self centre and keep the bars out of your face so most of the time it leaves you with a free arm to help balance when you are caught in some awkward position.

 

Since you more than likely wearing a camel back while you are conducting such silliness, the padded shoulder straps of the bag make the perfect place to rest your saddle across your shoulder and reduce fatigue. After the 5th or 6th 10 minute carry, the saddle does start to hurt your shoulder so change up which side you are carrying with.

On the Big HuRT, you are going to be doing a LOT of this on day 1. There are a few places on day 2 and very few places you can’t just walk and push for the rest of the route. Keeping bike weight to an absolute minimum (while still having enough equipment to self rescue if the lid comes off your tupperware) is the key to getting this right.

3. Finally, there is the familiar rear wheel scoot which everyone has used at some point to get a bike through a narrow gate etc. Since there are parts where the trail is too narrow to walk beside your bike and you don’t really want to waste strength carrying your bike, this makes a nice alternative as it allows you to use the rear brake to keep the bike under control. You can also use your knee against the seat to shove the bike around when you encounter obstacles. Bear in mind that this gets a little harder to keep clearance when you have a seat bag on your bike.

Why is he walking this bit rather than riding? You'll see when you get there

 

The key to all this is to go practice it somewhere. Go find the most ugly, unrideable trail you can think of and take your bike for a walk and figure out what works for you. Better to have it sussed before you go for the Big HuRT rather than hating on life during it.

 

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