Team Laser Cats

Folks in Philadelphia who love bikes, cats, and snacks.

MTB / CX Super Secret Ninja Camp: Sophia’s Report

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As a roadie-turned-cyclocrosser, I never really learned how to do logs. Sure, over the years, I’d gained enough confidence on a bike to sort of haphazardly roll over the little ones that cropped up at races, but I always envied my mtb-turned-cyclocrosser friends who rolled over logs like they were so many feet of flat pavement. This needed to stop!

03_The Professor

Willem, the Professor

Enter Team Laser Cats and our secret Log Ninja Professor, Willem (Arrow Racing). He graciously offered to teach us all the secrets of log-riding, which I will now attempt to share on this very not secret blog platform.

The day rolls in, 60 degrees F and sunny (i.e., perfect), and we find a clearing in our urban wilderness with all sorts of logs of different sizes.

Willem began by explaining some concepts. We needed to think about “tapping” the wheel on the log, pushing off while simultaneously kicking up our back wheel. The pushing motion *should* help kick up the back wheel. After getting a feel for it, the key was trying different speeds and getting to the point where we don’t need to think about it anymore, and becomes natural and even faster.

To which my response was: “Huh?”

And I promptly began riding logs as I always have: lifting my wheel just enough to clear the log, but not really applying any sort of technique.

Willem is European, which lends him a certain air of, well, bluntness. He stops me with, “You’re doing it all wrong.”

“Gosh darn it.” I drag my feet over to where he’s standing. “Yea, I honestly don’t get it.”

So Willem patiently explained it to me over again, this time pointing out things Sam and Elisabeth were doing right, and he also pulled up Harlan Price’s (local MTB stud) Instagram vid that showed in slow motion exactly what was going on.


We all studied the video awhile. Super helpful!

The key really is in the “tapping” of the front wheel, and really trying to get it to land on top of the log, not just rolling over. The tap / push off motion helps get the momentum to not only save energy, but the actual ability to get over even larger logs.

05_me too

I did it! I did it! (Still gotta work on efficiency, but hey.)

Things began to click just a wee bit then. Armed with my new knowledge, I went forth to try small logs. I kept just rolling over them though, so I realized I needed to try the bigger ones to force me to use the technique. By the end of the day, I was going over logs TWICE the size of anything I had tried previously!

04_Sam the BOSS

Sam, the Boss

In case you thought my ego was getting too inflated though, Sam at this point took on the dreaded flat top log that simply looked terrifying. Elisabeth and I struggled and struggled until finally we both conquered our fears and rolled right over!

02_Elisabeth on ramp

Elisabeth, Shred Sister Grindcore

We also tried a few more drills, such as riding in a super straight line to go over super narrow ramps. It’s not as simple as it sounds, I promise. It’s pretty easy to accidentally ride off the side – which I did liberally and often … I certainly have a new appreciation for shocks on MTBs!

Many thanks to Willem and my Laser Cats brethren for an awesome day of learning to shred logs! 😀

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