How to Ride Over Logs and Planks

Four Simple Steps for a Whole New Level of Capability

Are you a beginner mountain biker who wants to learn how to ride over logs?  Or an experienced mountain biker who always gets freaked out and backs away from riding narrow planks?  Well, that’s all about to change.

Here are the four steps that will give you the exact mountain biking skills and techniques you need to teach yourself how to ride over logs and planks.  By following these four simple steps you’ll be riding over narrow planks and logs in a matter of days or a couple of short weeks.


And Your Fun Doesn’t Stop There

You’re going to start enjoying mountain biking a whole lot more.  As you develop new skill and ability to mountain bike over logs and planks, you’ll find that every facet of your mountain biking will become better.  You’ll think better, you’ll respond to the terrain better and you’ll be riding obstacles you never could before.

So strap yourself in.  You’re about to ride a trail to a whole new level of mountain biking skill and confidence…


But Before We Start

But before we start the four steps I need to talk about the confidence side of things a little bit more. See, it is vitally important that you understand the frame of mind and the new way of thinking that you need to adopt to be able to mountain bike over logs and planks.  What you’re about to learn is mountain biking basics, but not all mountain bikers know about it.  It’s the absolute key beginner mountain bikers need in order to become better at mountain biking.  And it’s also the key to learning how to ride over logs and planks.


Your New Way Of Thinking

To successfully ride across logs and planks you need two things.  Those two things are skill and confidence.

1. Skill – we’re talking about bike control, or put simply, the balance.  The bike balance skill you need to keep you riding straight along the log.

2. Confidence – it could also be called mind or thought control.  Let’s keep it simple and call it focus.  That is, the ability to control your mind, shut out your fears and any negative thoughts and focus all your efforts towards thinking and doing only what you need to do to get the job done.

Sure, shutting out all your fears out can be difficult, but that’s the way you need to think to get to the other side of the log.  Don’t worry, I’ll show you how…


Isn’t It Funny

We can all ride a straight line down the street or trail, when we’re relaxed and not under pressure.  But, not all of us can ride that same straight line over a narrow plank, suspended 6 foot above a creek.  Most people back out.  And that’s because they don’t have the thought control, the focus to be able to concentrate on just riding the plank.  Their fears and worries distract them and instead of focusing on riding the plank, they’re focused on the 6 foot drop to the sides.

See what I’m saying?

Balancing while riding straight for a few metres comes easy.  But having the confidence, the focus to channel your skills and ride the plank is a bit more difficult.  It requires a whole new way of thinking.  You need to train yourself to stay focused on the job and not become distracted by your fears and negative thoughts.  And that’s why it’s so important to learn a new way of thinking.  I’m going to teach you…


How To Get Focused

The focus you need in order to learn how to mountain bike over logs and planks is developed by following what I like to call…

The Golden Rule of Mountain Biking , which is…

“Your wheels will follow your eyes”

Where you look has a massive influence over which path your wheels will take.  And as we’ve all experienced, if you focus too much on where you don’t want to go, there’s a good chance you’ll end up hitting it.  You know that rock you stared at on the trail the other week?  You gave it all your attention, thinking to yourself, “Oooh jeez I’d better miss that rock”.  And what happened?  You ended up hitting it…

And guess what will happen if you stare to the sides of the plank instead of the middle of the plank where you want your wheels to go?  Yup. Your fears will take over.  Your focus will change from the middle of the plank to the 6 foot drop.  Sure the reason you’re thinking and looking at the drop is because you don’t want to fall off and hurt yourself, naturally.  But…


You Shouldn’t Be Thinking That Way

Thinking that way encourages fear and doubt to enter your mind.  Do it for too long and guess what happens?  Yup.  Your wheels follow your thoughts straight over the edge and 6 foot down!

So, to make it to the other side of the plank you need to train yourself in a new way of thinking.  You need to start following…


The Golden Rule of Mountain Biking

“Your wheels will follow your eyes”

What you need to do during each of the four steps…

Look only where you want to go.  Resist looking to the sides.  You know what’s at the sides so you don’t need to look there again.

Develop the mental strength to not have to look to the sides.  Imagine the line that you want to follow is drawn straight up the middle of the plank.  Look at it.  Follow it.

Your success is dependant on how well you can train yourself to stay focused and not be distracted by all the other stuff around you.  It can take some time to get good at following the Golden Rule of Mountain Biking, but…


The More You Do It The Easier It Will Become

And that’s where the four steps help.  The repetition built in to the first two steps helps develop your focus far quicker than normal mountain biking.  But don’t forget your normal mountain bike rides.  Each ride is another opportunity for you to enforce the Golden Rule of Mountain Biking.  Whether you’re riding a plank, navigating a climb, or flying downhill, start following the Golden Rule of Mountain Biking in everything that you do.

You know, this might sound like a big statement, but every success you have in mountain biking all stems from how good you are at following that Golden Rule.  We’ll get to the four steps soon, but first i want you to…


Think About This…

You’ve probably seen those North Shore mountain bikers on DVD.  They ride over logs and planks suspended 12 foot in the air.  The first time you saw them you probably said something like, “Wow!  That is madness.  That is so risky.  What if they fall off?”.

Guess what…

Those riders don’t think in “what if’s”.  They think in “do’s”.  I will do this, then I will do that.  The best riders have 100% control of their own thoughts. They only think about the line along the middle of the plank.  It doesn’t matter what is to the sides, because it doesn’t interest them.  That is not where their focus is.

And the funny thing is there’s probably less chance they’ll fall off at that height than the chance of you falling off the same plank two foot above the ground.  Why?  Because they are so skilled with not just bike control, but mind control.  Ignoring their fears and worries relaxes their thoughts.  It enables them to flow on the bike and ride 100% in control.  So let’s grab a piece of that and put you…


One Hundred Percent In Control

By now you’ve probably guessed that the balance needed for mountain biking over logs and planks is about 10 percent of the total skills required.  And what makes up the other 90 percent?

Focus.  The ability to focus your thoughts so that you can put your balance skills into action, resisting all distractions.  That’s why it’s so important you understand and adopt this new way of thinking.  Without it, you’ve only got a ten percent chance of getting across!



Look only where you want to go and let your wheels follow your eyes.

Drop your seat a touch, drop your shoulder blades, relax your arms, elbows and wrists.  Keep a firm, but relaxed grip.  Start riding far enough back so that you can get your balance and both feet on the pedals before you enter the lines…

Step 1:

Click here for the four steps in video

Practice riding between two lines of hoses or ropes as shown in the video below, or parallel to the gutter, or a line in the carpark, to improve your balance for riding straight and to develop your focus.  Only look at the middle, between the lines, at where you want to go.  Don’t look outside the lines.  Develop that balance, but more than that develop your control of mind.

It might only take half an hour, or maybe you’ll need to practice it for two days or more.  When you can consistently ride between the lines confidently, following your eyes and not falling off, then you’ll know you’re ready for…

Step 2:

Get a plank, something like what you’d like to ride across in the bush and practice riding across it.  Back yard or park, it doesn’t matter.  Just practice to further develop that balance and focus.  When you can ride the plank anytime of day, in any mood, without falling off, then you are ready to progress to…

Step 3:

We’re out here in the bush at the plank you want to ride across. This is the moment you’ve been training for.  Now, be careful, because this is when fear and doubt start to set in.  You might start questioning yourself “Can I really do this?”  “Am I kidding myself?”

Well, this is what you need to say to yourself…

“I can do this.  I’ve been training for this moment.  I’ve been riding between the lines and riding along the plank at home.  I’ve practiced a lot and I’ve come a long way.  Riding this plank is no different to riding the plank at home on the ground.  It really isn’t.  Especially when I ignore what is to the sides and keep my focus where it needs to be, straight ahead along that imaginary line.”

So, drop your seat a few inches and relax your upper body.  Find your balance and ride with both feet on the pedals well before the start of the plank.  Then look ahead along the middle of that plank and ride across to the other side.


Now all you need to do is ride that plank over and over again.  Get nice and comfortable with riding that size plank.  Then, step it up to longer planks and grow those balance and confidence skills even more.

It might take some time.  Keep at it.  Just gradually work your way up to bigger stuff and soon you’ll be ready for…

Step 4:

Is all about stepping it up to the bigger obstacles that you’ve only ever dreamt about riding.  The key here is to work your way up to the larger stuff.  Don’t expect that you can go from riding a two metre plank to a ten metre log 5 foot above the ground in one hit. By working your way up in steps, especially if you’re a beginner mountain biker, you’ll know in your head when you’re ready for the next big thing.

Just remember…

…the longer and higher and narrower the log, the better your focus needs to be.  Why?  Because the higher the risk the more those things will be trying to distract you and stir up your fears.  Mr Fear will come tapping on your shoulder (tap, tap) “Oooh, I don’t think you should be doing that…what if you fall off?”

What if, what if this, what if that…

Toss Those What If’s Away

Don’t think about what you don’t want to do.  Rather, control your thoughts to block out those fears and focus your skills on what you do want to do. If you’ve gone through the three steps and practiced enough, then you’ll know in your head when you’re ready for this bigger stuff.

Enjoy!  It’s going to change your mountain biking forever…