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Mountain Bike Rides that Feel Fast but are Actually Slow!

If it looks fast or feels fast it is probably slow! How to go faster while riding safer and more efficiently.

Ever have that descent on your mountain bike where you felt like you were flat hauling?! At the bottom you were thinking (or telling a riding buddy), “wow, I nearly hit two trees, a big rock and that huge stump! I was flying!”. Believe it or not, despite feeling like you were right on the edge of your skill limits that was probably not near as fast as you could ride that descent (with your current skill).

I first stumbled upon this phenomenon as a snowboard racer. I had a super fast training run and asked my coach, “Nick did you see that run? What was my time, that was my fastest run yet!” Nick replied, “that was 30.2, your fastest run so far was a 29.1!” I was shocked and thought Nick was lying and trying make me mad to motivate me to go faster. A few runs later I had what felt like a technically perfect run but it felt kind of slow. “Nick, did you see that run? My hips, knees, and shoulders were perfect! I know it was slow but did you see my form?!” Nick’s reply, “slow?! That was a 28.3, you fastest run yet!”. I was really confused and didn’t really understand why the run that felt fast was slow and the run that felt slow was fast. It wasn’t until about 10 years later as mountain bike racer that I figured it out. It all had to do with vision and technique.

With good technique and looking as far ahead as you should riding will feel slow as you stay in you comfort zone and have plenty of time to pro-act to the trail. With poor technique and not looking far enough ahead you have to quickly react to the trail. This does a couple of things to you. First, it feels fast as heck as you are making one neck saving move after another (and probably pin-balling all over the trail, not exactly taking the most efficient line) all these reactions cause the body to go into the fight or flight mode which jacks up your adrenaline and tenses you up. This combined with not looking far enough ahead makes it feel like you are flying when in reality you are not going as fast you could be and not taking good lines down the trail. Ever look down at the dashed white lines when you are doing 75 miles an hour in your car? It feels like you are going 200! Then look up at a mountain a few miles away, it feels like you are crawling. Well the same thing happens on the trail! If you look at rock four feet in front on you, you are going to be there (at the rock) in a fraction of a second, if you see the rock when it is twenty-forty feet in front of you you have plenty of time to go around the rock and you stay calm and relaxed.

So, learn to look much further ahead down that trail! This will make riding much more fun, faster and safer!

This video reminded me of that. Notice how tense you get when the helmet cam is pointed down (you don’t know what the trail is going to do next) and how you almost breathe a sigh of relief when the rider looks further down the trail (and you know what the trail is going to throw at him).

 

 

Is Mountain Biking Wrecking Your Health?

Is Mountain Biking Wrecking Your Health?

As you probably know, I love mountain biking but mountain biking can be bad for you. I am not talking about crashing (which is definitely bad for you) but simply riding mountain bikes. Mountain biking, like many sports can be PART of a very healthy lifestyle. I stress the word “part” because mountain biking should not be your only form of exercise.

The idea for this article came when I saw two very fit looking road cyclists get off their bike and then hobble to the door. They could barely walk! They were hunched over, stiff and very wobbly! Luckily, because we stand, absorb shock and are more dynamic than road cyclists (who often stay in the same hunched over position for hours) mountain biking isn’t as bad a road cycling but it still can lead to imbalances in our body. Few sports work all muscles, ligaments and tendons equally which is one of the reasons “cross training” is popular in most sports.

If you like to mountain bike as much as I do don’t forget to mix things up every week! The best thing I have discovered to help me stay fit, healthy and balanced is yoga. Yoga helps my posture, my breathing, my mobility and helps calm me. A structured weight training program with mobility exercises can also be a great compliment to mountain biking. Weight training and yoga are also great mental breaks from mountain biking (which do the concentration needed to ride single track is very mentally stressful).

I find the more yoga I do the better I ride (because I breathe better and have more effective strength and flexibility) and the more I enjoy and look forward to riding (my back doesn’t hurt, the day off from riding made me miss riding). The same goes for strength training. With warm weather here and great trails beckoning you to ride sometimes it is hard to take a break and do something else, but if you force yourself to be more balanced in how you exercise and recover you will have more fun in the long run.

In short, balance your riding with other athletic pursuits to be healthier, happier, faster and have more fun!

Yoga and weight training are my two favorite forms of exercise to balance with my riding, what others forms of exercise do you do to compliment your riding? What do you like about it and how does help you?

If you are as obsessed with mountain biking as I was for 15 years please read/re-read this article:

http://betterride.net/blog/2011/stop-riding-your-bike-so-much-mountain-road-bmx-dirt-jump/

Update On BetterRide Mountain Bike Students and Coaches

It has been an amazing year so far and I am feeling more fortunate than ever to have such great coaches working for BetterRide and to meet and help so many riders improve and reach their goals. Here is a quick update on life at BetterRide.

Coaches:

Checkout this thread: http://www.bikemojo.com/speak/showthread.php?92241-Betterride-net

I love what they are saying about our head coach Andy Winoradsky and Certified Coach Chris Skolnick!

A few highlights:

“I’ll write a more detailed review when I’m not exhausted, BUT, I will say that:

1) I am already a better rider after the clinic.

2) I expect with some practice of the skills I learned I will be MUCH better by mid-summer.

3) i only thought I knew how to ride a bike. Halfway through day 3 something clicked and everything felt new and better and totally awesome.”

Laura

“I attended the Better Ride clinic at Walnut last year and absolutely loved it. Some of the best $600 I’ve ever spent. I agree with the others – it totally opened my mind to a new and more effective / efficient way of riding (especially the cornering). It did more for my riding than any bike or component upgrade ever has!”

Jake

Coach Jacqueline Harmony just won the Pan American Championships for the second year in a row!

BetterRide Athlete and Coach Jackie Harmony Wins Pan Am Championships!

more here:

Students:

Student finds mountain biking nirvana:

“I wanted to let you know about my recent brush with mountain biking nirvana but first I need to ask you….
We’re home but not before a few days of riding in Tucson. I, like you, spent the last three weeks or so of March sick with a sinus and chest infection so my riding was limited. I felt pretty good when we hit Tucson so off we went to fantasy Island with the hope that my strength had returned. Turns out I was hitting on all cylinders and ripped it up. My main purpose was to look down the trail to where I was going not where I was. I took all the descents out of the saddle and at full throttle with a level of confidence I had yet to experience. My climbs were stong and done with spirit fingers, my cornering was best it’s ever been. I came close to that same place, that nirvana, I reach on those days surfing when the waves are big and glassy with great form and I’m on it. It was truly a brush with mountain biking nirvana and I am convinced that the only way to reach mtb nirvana is to look ahead and the rest will follow. It’s the same in surfing. Idon’t look at my feet or the water at the end of my board, I look at where I want to go and the rest, the balance the weight shifts the balance everything just follows.
Of course I have lots of work to do but to touch mtb nirvana for while was truly amazing. It is why I have surfed all my life and it’s what I want out of mtbing. I have never competed surfing, I am more of a soul surfer and I may not ever compete mtbing I am probably more of a soul biker.
I did a beautiful coaster wheelie over an 18″ drop at a local trail yesterday. It just keeps getting better.
Anyway, just wanted you to know how it’s going and thanks again for the clinic and I hope this wasn’t too new age for you.

All the best,
-Tom

More students reaching/exceeding their goals:

If you follow our facebook page (http://www.facebook.com/BetterRide) you know I recently did a Core Skills 2 camp with a select group of our students, two pro racers, Graeme Pitts and Trevor Trinkino, and three 16 year old juniors, Luca Cometti, Dylan Unger and Mckay Vezina. Well the three juniors raced the next weekend at the Fontana National and took 2nd, 3d and 5th in Jr. Ex! At the same race Betteriders swept the women’s pro podium with Jackie Harmony winning, Gabriela Williams second and Margaret Gregory earning the bronze medal!

Then Graeme Pitts won the Keysville Classic for the second year in a row! The only other student the Core Skills 2 Camp, Trevor Trinkino has yet to race this season as he is finishing up is second semester as CU Boulder. I expect to see similar results out of Trevor as he is one determined and focused young man.

On the XC side Erica Tingey won the Cactus Hugger and Jen Hanks earned a third place finish! Congratulations to both of you on a great start to the season!

Erica on her way to victory!