One of the Huge, Little Things When Mountain Bike Riding!
While riding some steep technical climbs today I realized an interesting skill that I use quite often on my mountain bike yet have trouble with on my dirt bike (which has a lot of power!). Although I am a professional mountain bike racer I am an intermediate (at best) motorcycle rider but both sports require a lot of skill when climbing steep and loose trails.
More power! Isn’t that what us men are always searching for?! The more power I have the faster I climb (and sprint!), right? Well, not so fast power boy. Often power can be our biggest weakness. Sometimes we power through sections on power alone, so we make the section but we weren’t particularly efficient and we got lucky, we could not consistently rely on power alone to make that section. Other times power is what slows us down or stops us. Loose and/or technical sections (especially climbs and switchbacks) require precision.
This precision of power output is easy to explain but it takes years of deliberate practice (not just random riding but really focusing on the skill) to master. It is mastered when you can subconsciously adjust you power output so that you can make all but the trickiest steep climbs and switchbacks. Which like so many skills means you will never master it! One day you clean all the switchbacks the next ride you miss one or two.
The fact that you can constantly improve with deliberate practice and drills but never completely master (where no matter how challenging the trail you never make a mistake) mountain biking is what keeps me riding! The challenge is always there no matter how good you get!
So go out and practice your power output and if you don’t have the core skills wired (remember, we do a lot of things wrong because they are intuitive, humans intuitively move away from danger, which on mountain bikes, skis and snowboards means we instinctively move or lean back away from the downhill. While instinctive it puts us in an out of balance, non-neutral, out of control position in all of those sports*) make the best invest you will eve make in your riding and lean the core skills (and dills to master those core skills) in one of our three day skills progression camps.
*Please checkout this article on intuition and instinct. http://betterride.net/blog/2011/why-our-instinicts/
BetterRide Head Coach Andy Winohradsky’s take on long travel “trail” mountain bikes:
Recently, a friend of mine rode one of the latest “longer travel” trail bikes (around 160 mm of rear wheel travel) and was blown away by the bikes capabilities on the trail. He couldn’t come up with a reason why he shouldn’t have one and he asked me what I thought.
I told him that I may not be the best guy to talk to when trying to make the decision on whether or not to buy a new bike – of course you need one of those! Who doesn’t!
But I actually feel that the opposite is true: the bigger bike is more likely to give the rider the tools necessary to learn proper technique while the smaller bike may actually inhibit the learning process.
First, we don’t learn very well when we’re scared or in “survival mode”.
And, if we put an average DH racer on an XC bike and point her downhill, she’ll ride the wheels off the thing, only slowing because of the perceived limitations that the bike imposes on her – but not because of perceived limitations of her skill!
So, if you were on the fence about getting into a longer travel trail machine, jump off and grab that credit card! Not only will you have a blast, but also you’ll own a great new tool for developing skills that will transfer over to you XC race bike very nicely!
For Gene article on finding a confidence inspiring bike click this link: http://betterride.net/blog/2010/the-ideal-confidence-inspiring-mountain-bike/
BetterRide Head Coach Andy Winohradsky discusses protective gear for mountain biking:
Summertime is in full swing and that means its downhilling season! Even if you’re a not full DH racer, there’s a pretty good chance that you’ve at least entertained the idea of going to a resort; renting, borrowing (or buying…he he), a DH bike, and having a day of chairlift accessed good times. If not, I highly encourage you to do so.
However, there can be a little trepidation with the whole downhilling thing, and rightly so. Downhilling can be dangerous (just like regular trail riding), but there are a few things we can do to minimize those dangers. First and foremost: wear protective gear.
Lately, I’ve gotten a few questions from riders fairly new to the downhilling game about what gear to wear, how much, “do I really need a full-face helmet …”, etc.
So I’ll try to shed some light on the whole body armor thing, but let me first say that all this gear is made for a reason, and WHEN you crash, you’ll be glad you had it on (or wish you did!).
… And, yes, you do NEEEED a full-face helmet!
Here’s my gear list when I get on a DH bike
So there you have it. I’ve been DH’ing for a long time and I really wouldn’t feel comfortable riding with any less gear then the stuff I listed above. Have fun, be safe!
Of course learning the in balance and in control mountain bike techniques we teach in our camps would also go a long way to keep you safe. Less falls equal less injuries!
Congratulations to the following BetterRide athletes who have made the US Team for the World MTB Championships!
In the pro downhill Jackie Harmony (who is BetterRide athlete and coach!) earned her automatic nomination by virtue of being ranked 11th in the UCI rankings! Mitch Ropelato was chosen for the team for his high placings at many of the World Cup races in his first year as a pro!
In the Jr. Cat 1 Downhill Trevor Trinkino was the fastest among a qualified pool of athletes at Colorado Crankworx to earn his automatic nomination. Christian Wright was selected to the team for his overall performances so fa this season.
In 4 cross, Lear Miller was selected as one of three men to represent the US.
Making the US Team is quite an honor, congratulations! Create a great World Championship and we will be cheering for you! For the whole story click on this link: http://www.usacycling.org/news/user/story.php?id=6910
While I was busy enjoying a social life that all my racing and coaching doesn’t allow BetterRiders were tearing it up at Crankworx!
What a weekend for Jackie Harmony! She won the Air Downhill, the unchained downhill and the UCI C1 downhill! She was definitely the queen of the event!
Brian Buell had a great week, second in slalom, third in the Air Downhill, fourth in the UCI C1 downhill!