Not a ride report today, but a bit of what I’ve learned over my biking life.
It’s the corners which determine how quick you’ll be on a twisty track You can pedal as hard as you like but you’ll never make up for what you lose if you enter the corners too slowly. Of course the speed you leave the corners is even more important because it gives you an advantage on the next pedally section.
To be at your fastest you need to be just on the edge of a slide. Still with the tyres gripping but only just.
I rode with a group of mates for about 18 years. Sadly I’m the only one still riding but They never could match me on the twisty bits. They had just as much grip from their tyres and in many cases equal or Better fitness. My advantage came from studying the subject of faster riding and from the fact that I was the only one who sessioned sections with corners.
If you only ride the trail once you won’t have the chance to improve your performance. Riding the same trail a week later you won’t be properly prepared. You need to ride the trail repeatedly and………
YOU MUST TIME YOURSELF!
A stopwatch is the ultimate arbiter. Only through timing will you know if you’re getting it right.
So how do you ride it faster? When you’ve really started to learn a segment you’ll start to note braking points. This is the point at which you start to apply the brakes as hard as you can without locking the wheels. Remember that most of your braking comes from the front brake, not the back. Keep the speed up for as long as possible and set your braking point as near to the corner as you dare.
Get you weight balance right. You need to be applying force downwards on the handlebar grips. This will give you front wheel grip. If all your weight is resting on the pedals and/or saddle you’ll get plenty of rear wheel grip but the front will probably slide. Be brave and trust the front wheel grip, keeping that forwards weight bias.
Straighten the corners as much as you can. Go in wide, take it smoothly to the apex on the inside and let it drift out to the outside on the exit. KEEP IT SMOOTH.
You don’t need to look at the whole of a trail which you are getting to know. After glancing at the braking point look at the point on the outside where you’ll start to lean in. Immediately look for the apex. Your now committed to the rest of the corner and you will naturally drift to the exit point. Get it upright and hammer the pedals.
Go back to the start, think about what you need to improve and repeat. If you’re sliding on a corner then you’ll lose exit speed so for once you need to slow the entry a bit. Just brake a tiny bit earlier, since you’re already braking as hard as you can!
To many this will be second nature but if it isn’t I hope the advice may be of benefit.