Eastern Dirt Article: Stream Crossings

Stream Crossings

Trail Riding or racing in our part of the country it seems inevitable you are going to come across a stream, creek or small river to cross. In most cases it’s a fairly easy path to the other side but sometimes it can be tricky, consider these tips while navigating the water sections on your next crossing and it may end up being easier than you thought.

Some keys to remember:

9/10 times the rocks underneath are going to be pretty slick
Look for the shallowest and shortest point to cross
If you are unsure about the depth or strength of the current, get a stick and check before crossing!
Make sure you have an exit point to aim for on the other side

Photo 1: Entering the water

You want to stand as much as possible from start to finish, it will allow the bike move underneath you  and allow you to move your weight easily. Once again you want to know where you are entering and where you are exiting the water. Be sure to keep the revs up of your bike and finger on the clutch to avoid stalling, clutch control while riding through the water is very tricky because you want to avoid wheel spin and still keep forward movement.

Photo 2: Riding through the water

Maintaining you standing position, navigate your way through the stream, you want to choose a higher gear than normal to keep traction on your rear wheel, you also want to avoid sudden acceleration. Your weight should be in the middle and to the rear of the bike which will keep the front end from sliding if you hit an odd shaped bolder or slick patch in the rocks. If the section is particularly slow and rocky I tend to look a couple feet in front of the front fender while keeping my exit point in my peripheral vision. If the section is really rocky you could always revert to sitting and use your feet to paddle your way through the sections.

Exiting the water

When exiting the water be sure once again not to accelerate too quickly as there may be wet, slick rocks on the ground which will cause you to break traction.

Otherwise, enjoy yourself – riding through a rocky, flowing stream can be challenging and rewarding,  keep these tips in mind if you don’t happen to make it to the other side 2 wheels up:

  • Remove the fuel tank and drain
  • Remove the spark plug
  • Raise the bike or turn it upside down to remove water from the cylinder/exhaust
  • Kick the bike over a couple times to clear the remaining water from the cylinder
  • Remove the float bowl on the carb and drain.
  • Remove the air filter and dry the airbox
  • Spray de-watering fluid on all electrical components
  • Check the engine oil – If it is milky looking – replace it.
  • Reassemble everything and continue on your way 😉

My Experience

While shooting this article I stalled the bike twice and got my boots soaked with smelly stream water, my biggest fault was hitting large rocks and coming to a standstill, this was due to the water being murky and not choosing the right line, after that I learnt to keep the revs high and maintain control of the acceleration using the clutch rather than the throttle.