We make holes in teeth!

Monday, July 17, 2006

Basic Mountain Biking Advice for Morons

In the past week I've been focusing more on getting ready (see previous blog entry to understand why) for the 24 hour ride next month. I've been looking for small ways to make the overall mountain bike experience a bit more efficient and to pick up tips & tricks (a catch-phrase for "the one magical item that will make my problems disappear") which might help the cause. One I found last week, and read, is this:

The Secret to Speed

I encourage those of you interested in the sport to go ahead and read. For those of you interested only in the blog, I'll summarize it for you. Actually, the author does as much with the second sentence, when he says, "Don't use the brakes."

Ok, it sounds stupid. But I read the rest of the article anyway. If I took away any one item from the article it is the following fragment of a sentence: "...try to brake just a tick later than the time before."

I did this Saturday and was amazed at how attached to my brakes I am. Now I grant you that brakes are necessary, and without them neither I nor my bike would last very long on the trail. In paying more attention to my braking, and trying not to brake as often, I realize I was braking before everything. I'm talking a 4 inch log, a well-built log jump, a gradual curve, ants...I mean anything. I quickly came to see that my default is to hit the brakes, and then to re-assess the situation or to clear the obstacle more carefully, or...honestly, I don't even know. But the thing is, I'm not a beginner. I can assess any trail on the fly (not to be confused with clearing any trail on the fly). It made me realize I'm braking far too often. As such, I'm pedaling too much to compensate for the lost power due to braking.

In all, it was an eye-opening article, at least when applied to the trail. The counter-argument can be made that any extra pedaling I do only helps maintain or increase fitness. True, but when you're riding the same 10/11 mile loop with 1000/1500 feet of elevation gain a total of 5-6 times in a 24 hour period, it makes any gains in time and effort that much more pertinent. Plus, braking less will make me go faster, which will obviously push the limits of my downhill skills, presumably leading to improvement in that area.

Anyway, for those of you interested in more articles, here is the link. Best of luck, morons!

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