Roots are arguably the most feared trail feature for novice and intermediate riders especially when wet. More often than not it is this fear combined with poor technique that is causing most of the problem. Learn the skills required to ride roots with confidence and they become one of the most rewarding and fun trail features rather than something to be avoided at all costs.
Stay relaxed and off the brakes.
Braking on roots is a recipe for disaster, a rolling tyre gets far more grip than a skidding one and there isnt much grip to start with. Tensing up as you approach the root section is just as bad causing you to hit them harder with a greater risk of slipping.
Unweight the bike.
As you approach some roots preload the bike then time your unweighting so that the bike is light as you go over the roots. Less weight on the bike means the tyres will slip less as they passover the roots. The longer the rooty section the faster you need to go to stay unweighted for it's entire length. Use a lump in the trail just before the roots or even the first root as a launchpad to help you get up and over the rooty section.
Keep your speed up.
Slowing down for roots increases the time you are on the roots allowing the wheels to slip further before they find grip in the soil between the roots. As the tyre accelerates as it slides sideways over the root rather than moving with constant speed if you can half the time it is on the root you quarter the distance it moves. That right, riding twice as fast quarters the effect of each root.
Picking a line.
Try to ride over roots square on especially the larger ones or when you cannot unweight your bike. Rooty sections are never even, try to unweight over the worst roots whilst weighting back up again on the smoother sections in between.
Try to avoid hitting roots at an angle however you can use the side of roots running along your path on corners and off camber sections for a little extra grip.
Tyre choice and setup.
If you ride trails with lots of roots consider running a tyre with larger knobs such as a Maxxis Minion or Swampthing at lower pressures which will allow your tyres to mould around the roots and grip on the earth either side further reducing the amount of time the tyre may slip.