Thanks, Rich Schmit.
Well it sounds like quite a few of you have gone out and gotten shorter stems, wider bars and bigger tires so here is the 4th thing you can buy. Go out and get an adjustable height seat post like the Gravity Dropper. I have had a Gravity dropper for around 10 years now and can’t imagine riding without one. Descending with your seat at full height for proper leg extension when pedaling is not safe, provides much less control and is out right scary. By dropping your seat 3-5″ you are able to lower your hips, have more shock absorption, separate from the bike easier and have way more control descending. Being able to lower and then raise your seat at the flick of a switch is one of the best inventions ever for mountain biking.
I personally like the Gravity Dropper post as not only were they the first, their product is the simplest making it very dependable. It is simply powered by a coil spring instead of air like most other models. Specialized, Crank Brothers and KS all make nice adjustable height posts too but I have seen and heard of (many of my friends are bike mechanics) the air posts blowing out and using air pressure.
No matter which post you decide on this will be one of the coolest parts purchases you ever make for you bike. Look for my article on the absolute number one purchase you can make to improve your bike handling coming soon.
Just found this emails in response to my July 2007 newsletter:
Thanks for another great article. I love getting those from you. They really stimulate the mental side of the sport.
Anyway, Sheri got me my gravity dropper seatpost from you and I absolutely love it! Between your training camp and the seatpost I have been able to ride stuff that has been frustrating me the last couple of years.
Just wanted to let you know that the Gravity Dropper is fantastic! What a cool invention. It helps immensely. I used it too many time to count on my trip to Steamboat last week.
Thanks again for the Gravity Dropper!
Last month we talked about the control you get from a short stem and wide bar combination and hopefully you have experimented with that set up. Now for another great bike handling increase, tires! Get ye some wide tires (2.2-2.5) and run lower pressure (20-32 pounds of pressure depending on body weight and tire type. For instance on my xc bike I run 30 pounds of pressure and weigh 188 pounds. On my downhill bike with downhill tires (which are much thicker, stronger and heavier) I run as little as 22 pounds depending on the track.
What is the right pressure for you? Experiment! Find the lowest pressure you can run without pinch flatting (if you run tubes) rolling the tire or dinging your rims (if you run tubeless). For lighter riders this will be somewhere between 18-24 pounds and for bigger riders some where between 25-38 pounds.
Why a bigger tire and less pressure? More traction and shock absorption. Instead of deflecting off small rocks and roots your tire will simply compress and roll over the rock or root.
There is a big misconception in mountain biking that the more tire pressure you run and the narrower your tire the faster you will roll. Well, that simply isn’t true and here is a link to a study that proves this:
Reading this study shows that wider tires (given the same tread pattern) roll faster/easier than narrow tires and less pressure also rolls faster/easier offroad! So much less rolling resistance it makes up for the added weight of wider tires.
Now for tread design. What tread is best for me? First figure out your goal. Is traction and control my number one goal? or is it rolling resistance because I have a technically easy but long ride (like the Leadville 100). If control is my goal I want to use a more aggressive tread pattern (larger knobs) if low rolling resistance is my goal I want to use a semi-slick or short, tightly space knobs.
Then think about the typical conditions you ride in, in Colorado we tend to have hard packed trails that when dry get a layer of dust on them. On the East coast and Pacific NW they have softer soil and mud is more common. On hard conditions big blockly knobs of medium height that don’t flex a lot work best. In loamy to muddy conditions slightly taller knobs with more space between each knob dig into the earth and shed mud better. Most tire manufacturers will explain on there website what each tread pattern is designed to do so do a little research.
Tires also come with different rubber hardness. In general the softer the tire the better traction at a cost off wearing out faster and rolling slower. The harder the rubber the faster it will roll, the longer it will last but the less control you will have. Each tire manufacturer has different names for their tire compounds so do a little research to find the ones best for you.
Your tires are your contact with the ground so spend some time choosing the best tire for you. Lastly be weary of internet reviews as often the reviewer is not qualified to review the tire. Example: “I hate this tire, it slides out in the corners too much”, well, does the reviewer know how to corner correctly? Does he have the right tire pressure?
Create your best ride yet,
Are you letting fiction hold you back?!
All the skills coaching, personal training and fitness coaching in the world will not allow us to reach our goals until we overcome this factor. The number one factor holding you back from reaching your potential is your mind! Specifically self-limiting beliefs. We all have self-limiting beliefs, just some of us in areas that greatly effect achieving our most important goals and some of us are fortunate enough to have them in areas that only effect minor goals. I hear some of my students say these self limiting beliefs out loud, “I stink at climbing!” but often we are not even aware of these beliefs, they are in our subconscious. The interesting thing is that many times these self-limiting beliefs are completely unfounded! That’s right, quite often the thing holding you back has no basis in reality.
Any belief that holds you back is a self-limiting belief. When your subconscious says, “I am not good enough” that is a self limiting belief. Sometimes they actually start out positive “I can do that well but I never will be as good as ….” but in the end they set a limit to your achievement.
They are often caused by failing at something (as you may or may not know I believe that, “failure is a nature and necessary part of the learning process” quote from Dan Millman). For instance, a former self-limiting belief I had was that I could not do a trackstand. One day a friend and I each tried to trackstand and I ended up falling over. For years after this when asked if I could trackstand I would reply, “no, I can not trackstand” and for years I couldn’t trackstand. Was this limitation real? Of course not, one day I decided I would try using baby steps (working my way from 1 second trackstands to 20-30 second trackstands) and in less than a hour I was doing 10 second trackstands!
How to do you stop this often subconscious self defeating cycle? Step one is to identify the belief, “I am a good rider but will never be great” or the most misguided one I heard the other day, “I only weigh 140 so I don’t have the muscle mass to climb like the bigger guys” (this is misguided because in general the lighter you are the better climber you are, most great climbers are short and stick thin). Once you have identified the belief check to find the source of the belief and see if it is real. Where did the belief come from? Does it make sense? Is there proof that the belief is true? Once you have these questions answered you can create a strategy to rid yourself of the belief. If the belief was caused by a past failure tell yourself, the past doesn’t equal the future and practice doing the skill/section of trail that you feel you can’t do correctly. If it has no basis in reality (your friend said, “wow you suck at descending 10 years ago”) tell yourself, “that was ten years ago, I now understand body position and vision better, my bike is way better and I have the skill to descend much better now”. Often you will find that once you identify a self limiting belief you laugh, realize that it is preposterous and you move past it.
Don’t let fiction, fantasy or conjecture hold you back. Attack these self limiting beliefs and achieve your best.
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