How to push yourself to get better when riding solo..?
Just seems lately I've gotten to the point in my riding where I'm not sure what to do to get better. The more I ride, the harder and harder it seems to be to get better overall skill wise. I end up riding solo quite a bit due to my friends that do ride having as busy of schedules as I do meaning rides together happen only a couple times a month if that.
Have any of you found solid resources for tips to get better for AM riding? I have seen every single one of Fabien Barel's clips from when he was on Mondraker and they have been useful, but where I'm at now in my riding it's gotten a bit fuzzy.
I can always push for faster on corners and further on jumps, but it's hard to really go for it when you ride solo as if you wreck in an epic fashion, there isn't anyone to help pick up the pieces. On top of that, it's to the point where I feel like I need instruction on how to pick out better lines or how I can use body english / technique on the bike better.
My experience is cat 3 and 2 DH racing, Cat 2 Super D racing and am comfortable with medium to large jumps and 10+ foot gaps and doubles.
So does anyone have some advice for being able to progress further while riding solo or had the same issues?
Strava. Seriously. Either go for some known KOMs or make your own.
Wear more padding/etc so if/when you crash there is less likely of a chance of getting hurt. That's all I got
It might be controversial, but Strava has pushed me to get faster (and cleaner) up and down the trail. The other thing that works for me is to enter races. I ride by myself most the time, so those two things have kept improving even with 1 year old twins in the home.
Re: How to push yourself to get better when riding solo..?
I stop and session techy skinnies, ladders, rock gardens, off camber sections etc. Ride them reverse, different speeds etc. Let's you work on handling/balance at your own pace without making others wait around.
Here is the thing about equality, everyone's equal when they're dead. - Gavroche, Les Misérables
Pick a couple of corners...ride them, stop, hike back up, repeat...do this 20 times. Seriously...after the 3rd of 4th time, you'll see that you begin to hit them faster, and faster, and faster.
You dont have to use strava, just make sure to yell "STRAVA" real loud. And wear lots of flannel. it helps.
Time yourself on your fav loop, try to improve on your time on the next ride.
lol that could work but in all seriousness I have to vouch for Strava as well. Viewing my Strava stats makes me want to do better the next time.
Originally Posted by nauc
Last edited by Max24; 03-02-2015 at 08:20 PM.
Get a single speed hardtail. It will force you to work on the fundamentals.
I too use strava but sometimes I find that it causes me to go around obstacles in order to ride faster.
Lately I've been specifically hitting every feature possible and taking the sketchy lines whenever I can, its fun and I'm improving my skills
I'm in a situation where my bigger rides I have to do solo in remote areas now. I've been thinking about getting the garmin 510 that allows your wife, significant other, etc... to check in on your progress and see where you are.
Schedule an MTB vacation to a Better Ride clinic.
+1 to the hard tail suggestion.
And finally, it sounds like you are a pretty good rider already and are at the point where going bigger is going mean assuming more risk. I'm kind of at that point. I can ride some pretty technical stuff (I'm not too good at jumps though), but instead of finding gnarlier stuff to ride I'm focusing on riding things smoother, carring more speed through corners... basically going for that "slower is faster" thing.
How to push yourself to get better when riding solo..?
I've got to agree with all that has said Strava. Strava makes me push harder than I've ever pushed especially when riding alone. I believe with a premium account, people can see where you are at. The stats you get are great motivational tools as well as any PRs or overalls you get with every download.
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You say that its your skills that you think are holding you back. Is there anything specifically?
One idea is to spend some time setting up a camera to film yourself in the areas that you think you need to address. This way you can review it yourself as well as getting feedback from the rest of us keyboard warriors!
I always knew that cornering was a weakness for me as was hitting jumps correctly. I was lucky enough to book in for a skills lesson with one of NZ's former top pros earlier this year. One look at me on a section of trail was enough for her to identify both bad habits that I'd developed as well as some things I was doing plain wrong. I then spent the rest of my trip being acutely aware of what was required and practicing whenever possible. The more I practice, the more they become easier to focus on or even second nature.
With respect to the posts above, simply trying to beat your previous time or a Strava segment is not always the best approach. If you are employing bad habits, just pushing yourself faster won't rectify the mistakes you are making. Whats that quote about doing the same thing over and over again expecting to see something different??
There may also be a physical component that you could address. Are you mobile enough to be able to not only hit the right position but also maintain it? Do you have the requisite strength and / or endurance? Do you know if you do? Are you using your glutes and hamstrings in preference to your quads? Are you wearing clipless shoes and trying to pull up through the stroke (don't do this)? Are you sitting optimally on the bike to not only avoid power leaks but also maximise pelvic stability and muscular force all whilst maintain the right amount of tension to not cause premature fatigue?
Consider all of the above because just "try to go faster / beat Strava" won't attend to any of them.
Also consider the comment from Fabian Barel in the "Flow" talk with Steve Jones on the Dirt website.
(apologies for any inaccuracy but the message remains the same):
Fabien Barel talks FLOW with Steve Jones // Mountain Biking Videos on MPORA
"The main mistake of the average rider is to believe that you must pedal to go faster"
I like to think that FB has one or two ideas about riding a bike well so he might be onto something re technique here.
 - having just watched the link again, FB also makes a very valid point about taking your riding level down to 50% in order to re-learn and practice to then take that level back up to where you were then beyond. This is exactly what I did in NZ when practicing my cornering and jumping.
hmmm, you can work on fundamentals with any bike. The only thing that will force you, is thinking about it as you do it.
Originally Posted by saidrick
I think you make a good point about FB and slowing down the riding level. After riding again today, notice myself trying to improve things at full pace instead of slowing down a bit to get the right feel and then ramping it back up.
Right now I feel as if line choice and fluidly moving over obstacles (roots, large rocks, small stumps, etc) is where I'm needing to improve. For things like line choice however, it's quite hard to be able to know "what's right" without an outside opinion. Yes I can session a section over and over, but aside from feel on obvious sections, it's difficult to see which line might be faster and how to setup better and exit better.
Thank you all for the suggestions so far.
Something that has bot been mentioned yet is trying to find other people to ride with that are faster than you. It will require some sacrifice on your part in terms of changing your schedule but in the end you'll be able to see new lines and have the confidence someone will be there to call 911 if you go down.
FWIW that's what I did and its helped me out a lot.
time your rides, limit the use of your gears (eg; do not use your granny as much, or at all) do not seat much to pedal,hit every jump/obstacle, sessions, etc
As an alternative to the Strava/brakeless advice (not that I think Strava training is bad advice), you could try doing your standard loops while pedaling as little as possible.
Try hopping every little rock and root to maintain speed and pumping ever little backside to make speed, see how far you can get without a pedal stroke.
You'll see your normal trails in a different way, polish your pump, jump and flow technique and minimise the risk of a huge crash as you won't be going as fast.
Strava and a single ring up front (34t) have pushed me since I ride solo most of the time.
I seem to ride faster when my dog comes along. She is always going faster than me so sometimes I really push it and try to keep up with her!
She is a ruthless trainer
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I'm with everyone else, STRAVA and re-riding sections that challenge you!
I would also suggest gettting a book on riding technique, I've heard good things about the Lee/Lopes book. I might be getting it soon.
If you can go to a race every now and then you will see just how hard you can ride.
195 lbs-6'4" Banshee Prime XL
Ride Mammoth, Tahoe & Vegas
PLEASE GIVE ME NEGATIVE REP!
I use targets and goals to improve my riding either motorcycle or mountain bike.. If you pick a section of trail/track and only worry about one aspect of your riding. My experience is mostly Motorsport so I work on one section at a time then string one into the next and not worry about the rest. If you work on too much at one time it is overload. As Keith Code pointed out you only have $100 worth of attention to use at one time. You use some just riding so you need to make as much of your ride second nature as possible so working on one aspect/section at a time helps that. Strava is good for timing and reference but it only confirms or denies if things you do work it does not make you quicker on its own. Going for a full lap time might just be fitness and not skill. Short sections or runs are less about fitness than they are about skill.
Very true, finding someone a little faster than you will push you to new level, you can also learn good lines from the person and help you with your training fitness, I use Sports Tracker for timing, avg speed and ect.
When I ride by myself, I will use the Tracker on long climbs to see if I am improving my time.
however, you have to look at your riding were your weak at, work on those issues, they a lot of books, eating tips, riding tips to read. but you need get out there and ride.If you slow on the hills, work on riding steep long climbs, you will improve with time on your fitness and skills before you know it.
Did I miss the obvious post?
Riding will always have its benefits but a balanced body can do more than mastering one discipline alone.
Weights for strength training and swimming for upper body conditioning - both will improve your upper control
Running - for a whole set of unused leg and butt muscles that will help with lower stability and control
Yoga - mastering balance and flexibility will give you a new ability to hit the skinnies and take a hit if/when you go down.
You will see improvements in your abilities and if you can do it on the sly, it is always fun to watch the others struggle to keep up, :-)
Apathy will get you exactly what you deserve
I think the guy is not struggling with fitness but riding skills.... That was why I said to break it down into sections... Doing hours and hours of riding on long trails will improve fitness but not necessarily riding skill.. You have to break down the riding part into your weak areas and just work on one aspect at a time then string the ride together... Riding skills are also about muscle memory and making your body work as second nature when you get to something technical..
To add more to your plate, when I used to race, I was on a road bike most of the time to improve my speed and endurance, big improvement. between working on weakness, riding with faster riders, timing yourself on the fav loop and eating right of course, you will be on fire.
However the main thing to do is to have fun and dont stress on it, ride hard, party harder!
This. I've been riding solo a lot over the last couple of months since the clocks moved back and the days have gotten much shorter. I have plenty of things I've wanted to work on, including jumping, drops, and front wheel lifts. I've also been filming myself to compare with videos I've watched and for input from my friends. I feel like it's helped a lot in regards to confidence and technique. I'm hoping I emerge next Spring a much improved rider. Practice, practice, practice
Originally Posted by morepower
I like to make dirt bike sounds when I'm ripping a down hill. Bbbbbbrrrraaapppp!
I agree with what most say in their post? Session sections, video yourself, find a faster rider to follow, and use strava to record your progress. I believe line selection improves greatly when sessioning a part of the trail over n over.
The old adage "Slow is smooth and smooth is fast" is the most true and relevant thing to remember. Try to focus on being smooth and fluid. Conserving and maintaining momentum are key to being fast. Focus on your lines and your movements. Don't be afraid to let the bike drift through the corners, don't be afraid to put a foot out in a turn. Don't be afraid to skim trees with your shoulders. Put effort into being smooth and clean. Focus on floating and dancing on the bike rather than hammering the pedals, jerking the bike around, and thrashing the trail. (riding a rigid bike is a great way to get there)
Remember to look farther ahead up the trail rather than what is right in front of you. The farther ahead you look, the slower everything happens (perceptually, not literally), making it easier to pick your lines and prepare for obstacles.
Learn to see the brakes as a way to adjust the attitude of the bike, rather than just slow it down. Try to be rolling off the brakes before you enter the corners. One thing I like to do is use the front brake to un-weight the rear, allowing me to bring it around quicker in tighter corners, rather than just locking the rear and skidding it. This way when I release the front the rear plants and the bike squirts out in it's new direction.
How relevant is any of this to you? I have no idea, I've never ridden with you to see you ride. I do know from personal experience that good bike handling technique makes up for an awful lot in the woods. I've never been the guy with the "Big Engine™" yet I won an awful lot of races simply by not slowing down.
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+1 on above post!
Limit the use of gears, brakes and pick areas to pedal faster to keep momentum. Also pump the bike more on the ups and downs. Try to move yourself "around" the seat in all directions while shifting body weight over the tires relative to optimum traction. This all takes practice and patience to feel the trail rather than just riding the trail. Don't hesitate to lift and lower your bike up and down trail features...become one with the bike young Jedi!
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Kinda sounds like the majority of your experience is groomed/maintained trails.
Ride natural terrain/hiking trails, learn to flow, jump/gap and corner on natural terrain. Learn to ride them fast/smooth/light/easy on a fragile XC race bike without breaking parts and folding up wheels.
Your bike handling skills, line assessment skills and "vision" will go through the roof.
If you've reached cat 2 DH, I would guess at least half of us here should really be getting advice from you
(definitely myself! :P )
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