So you’ve got the bike set up right, you are confident and have some fitness. You may even have some new riding socks.
You are all set to ride and you want to be faster, smoother, save energy, go harder and ride for longer.
Riding more often is going to make you fitter and stronger. But ultimately when riding, you want to carry more speed and go fast, while still conserving energy. So you can ride for longer and travel further.
Conserve energy while still going faster? Yes that’s right!
Here are 3 tips to help you reach that goal:
- Don’t brake.
- Choose good lines.
- Pump the track.
Doing these three things means there will be less pedalling (when you don’t need to), more speed, more energy.
Try to carry speed by not braking as much. If you brake you will only have to put in the extra effort and pedal to get back up to speed. By not braking, you save that pedalling energy for later. Saving 1 pedal per corner on single track means you have the energy to pedal another 30 + pedals on the hilly or flat sections. Don’t brake unless it’s absolutely necessary!
Choose good lines
Line choice is a great skill to have. It is a key skill for downhillers, but it’s often overlooked by the cross country rider. Remember that the most direct route (or the A-line) is not always the fastest. It may not line you up best for the next corner. Some B-lines around drops are actually faster as you can carry speed and you don’t loose momentum on dodgy landings. Learn what works best for you and your bike. Ride smart and choose lines with purpose.
I remember reading an interview with Missy Giove (professional downhill mountain biker who dominated the sport in the 90’s and early 2000’s) which always stuck in my head. She always visualised the track before each race and imagined herself as water or a river, choosing the fastest route to flow down the mountain (Source from Dirtragmag
Pump the track
Learn how to flow better and pump the trail. Pumping is more useful on the flat or downhill sections. Sometimes the trail is too rocky, rooted or rutted to get pedals in. So by working with the trail you can actually maintain speed and gain speed without pedalling or loosing speed. Small rises and falls in the track are actually like little roller coaster tracks. You flow down one side and ‘G-out’ at the bottom to carry speed up the next side. Push the bike down at the low points, and be light on the bike on the high points. It may not always be obvious where the track rises and falls. Sometimes it’s over rocks and roots and micro hills. You will be amazed at how much speed you can carry while pumping over a trail without even pedalling. If you are unclear of the concept of pumping, try playing the Tiny Wings game on your phone. It’s just like that.
So, by doing these three things, it will mean less pedalling, more speed, more energy!
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