Sidehilling 101

Sledheads Chris Burandt
Viewed 5550 time(s)
I have literally lost count 
how many times I've asked the 
question, "So can you sidehill 
on both sides of the sled?" 
and time after time the answer 
was always, "Oh yeah, no 
problem." A left-hand throttle 
is a dead give away that this 
person's definition of sidehilling 
is obviously a bit different 
than mine. 

I can usually sort out my 
group's sidehilling ability in 
the first couple minutes after 
leaving the parking lot. After 
jumping into the trees, hoping 
over the sled and placing my 
left foot on the right running 
board, I give the handlebars a 
quick flick to the left to get me 
into a counter-steer position 
and away we go on a fun little 
sidehill through some trees. 

Now usually I like taking 
the harder line because, well 
it's just more fun. Plus, these 
riders assured me they were 
ready for the technical stuff. 
So when I finally get to a 
good stopping point and look 
behind me, this once-eager 
group of riders who just told 
me they can sidehill on either 
side of the sled are missing. 
Keep in mind I can still see the 
parking lot and my group is 
nowhere to be seen. 

So I make a loop back to 
go see what the hold up is 
and it's not long before I find 
the first victim standing on the 
downhill side of his sled holding 
it from rolling over on top 
of him. This is a clear case of 
trying to use the mountain bar 
to sidehill. That doesn't work. 

"So that's what you meant 
when you said sidehill on both 
sides of the sled," is a pretty 
common response from many 
of the riders I run into. 

Here are a few pointers for 
you riders out there that want 
to answer my question about 
sidehilling on both sides of the 
sled with a confident, "Heck 
yeah I can sidehill on both 
sides...bring it on!" 

Slow down. This is one of 
the biggest mistakes made 
when trying to negotiate a 
sidehill. You should be able to 
stop your sled on its side at 
any moment during a sidehill.

Throttle control. Again this 
comes back to being able to 
stop and be in control of your 
sled at all times.

Use the brake-a lot. I use 
the brake almost as much as 
the throttle during a technical 
sidehill. You should really get 
used to riding with a finger on 
the brake lever at all times.

Hang a leg. For those of 
you who think I do this for 
show-I don't. Having a leg 
out helps with balance, pedaling 
the sled and it gives you 
more leverage. It will feel 
weird at first but when you get 
used to it you won't know how 
you ever rode without it.

Foot placement. This is 
dependent on the type of terrain 
you are trying to cover 
but generally you will need to 
have your foot that is on the 
running board farther forward 
for steep terrain, neutral for 
the more average type of terrain 
and having your foot far 
back on the sled will make the 
front end light and give you 
the ability to go up hill if conditions 

Lean into the hill with 
your sled. And when you think 
your sled is leaning enough its 
probably not. Don't be afraid 
to drag your handlebars in the 

Look ahead. This sounds 
so simple but every single 
rider doesn't do this properly. 
Even I struggle with this when 
its at the end of the day when 
I'm tired. Try planning your 
line two to three moves in 
advance and it will smooth out 
your riding unbelievably. 

Start with these tips and 
just make sure you don't get 
frustrated if they all don't 
come together at once. To 
get these little tips and tricks 
in real world riding conditions 
visit www.burandtsbackcountryadventure.
com and come 
ride with me! 

See you on the snow! 

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