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  1. #1
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    How Do You Guys Ride Technical Sections So Fast?

    So I've been racing pretty well this year. However, I know technical sections are my biggest weakness. Besides pre-riding and learning the lines, is there any way I can improve on this?

  2. #2
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    Technical skills are similar in many ways to cardiovascular ability: ride lots.

    The more you challenge your weaknesses and train the skills, the more comfortable you'll be. Much of interval training on the bike is just preparing the body to work hard during races and be able to handle the stress and load. Technical riding and descending is similar.

    Practice.

    Remember to breathe, keep your body "loose", move around on the bike instead of being rigid, look ahead, weight the front tire, feather the brakes.

    If all else fails, try smiling. That always relaxes the body.

    Have fun with it, ride with some faster more skilled riders and watch their lines. Before races you can try to ride and "spectate" trouble spots and see how other riders are handling the areas.

  3. #3
    I Tried Them ALL... Moderator
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    Speed is your friend, in technical sections. What many fear will make them wreck....only increases their chances of doing just that, by going it slower. Skilled and experienced riders make it look so easy, simply because they need to stay loose and flexible. A bike needs all the momentum it can get, to operate optimally. The ONLY exception, is when is a hazard is fast approaching.
    "The mind will quit....well before the body does"

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    Thanks for the advice. I learned REAL quick that going faster makes riding easier and I think I could learn to ride with a little more speed. I definitely need to work on staying loose too. I think I do tense up quite a bit so I'll have to work on that.

    I should definitely try to mix up my terrain too. But that'll wait until after I recover from my race this weekend. My whole body hurts.

  5. #5
    I Tried Them ALL... Moderator
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    It's normal. Many fear the violent jarring of blazing through techy sections requires a firm grip and stiffened stance.....quite the contrary. As long as the momentum is adequate - there are not many things that will rip your handlebars out of your hands, so staying loose does require practice and conscious effort.
    "The mind will quit....well before the body does"

  6. #6
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    ...and above all else don't get fixated on technical features when you're scoping for a line. If you look at it you will hit it. And if you think "I better not catch a front wheel in that", you will catch your front wheel.

    A friend of mine that I ride with can see a line over everything. I have a much harder time. If you're a glass half full sort of personality you are more likely to find a line on technical trails. If you're a glass half empty sort of personality, you will have to overcome the tendency to see nothing but obstacles on a trail.
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  7. #7
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    I'm reasonably fast in technical sections and good in the tight twisties (or so I think). When I was a kid I rode a dirt bike on trails a lot, we had Honda CT-70s, a CT-90 and later a '79 XR-80, the CT-70s had laughable suspension and picking a decent line was important. I think most full suspension bikes have better suspension than the xr-80 had. I think putting in some hours on a dirt bike would help with comfort at speed, I would ride dirt bikes if I had the opportunity. I know a woman who could have been an mtb pro racer in the 90s (but having small kids made that impossible). She was a strong rider but could just smoke all the other women in the dh sections and the more technical stuff, she had spend a lot of time riding dirt bikes, and she was/is very comfortable going fast trough the tight spots, I think going to mtb was an easy transition. It appears to me that women racers are much faster today than back then. There's other good habits that are true for all racing; the first and most important one that every car racing book stresses is Looking Ahead. Be more aware of what is coming up ahead, and what is after that, maybe shift some percentage of your focus from what is 5-10 feet in front of you to what is 25-50 feet and as far as you can see in front. Every turn is just a transition to the next section, and should be taken in such a way as to maximize the speed through that next section.

  8. #8
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    Re: How Do You Guys Ride Technical Sections So Fast?

    Well by technical sections do you mean tight switchbacks? Rocks/roots? Ledges?

    For switchbacks: focus on exiting the turn fast rather than entering the turn fast. Do your braking before the turn, and possibly feather your rear brake through the turn. Also look to the exit of the turn as you hit the apex, and turn your hips where you want the bike to go: your bike will go where your eyes and hips tell it to go.

    For rocks/roots: loosen that stranglehold on the bars! Let's the bike flow over the obstacles, using your arms and legs as suspension.

    For ledges: at slow speed, compress the fork and then pull up on the bars to get your front end up and roll off the ledge. At higher speed, put all your weight on your feet and lean back a bit (with some slight upward pressure on the bars) and roll off. Practice on some curbs at first then work your way up

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    Thanks. I haven't heard about the switchback. Probably should have figured that out but I'll look to do that next time I'm out.

    The rocks and roots, I'll admit I hold onto the bars for dear life and thats something I definitely will work on.

    The ledges actually came easily having seen someone else do it before me and riding a 29er makes it a breeze.

  10. #10
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    Truth is the bike wants to roll over that tech stuff, you just need to relax enough and unweight it so it can. Clamping the bars, and making it not bounce around will stall the foreword momentum. Keep the pedals turning, and think about pushing a harder gear in the rough stuff to power over the bumps. If you are spinning too much it's hard sometimes to keep the power down, you simply spin out and can't accelerate out of a tech problem.

  11. #11
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    Ride a little faster and don't look right at the scary part. Easier said than done.

  12. #12
    DLd
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    Leaving off the brakes in the rocky stuff let's your suspension work more easily too. Any time you're on the brakes you're reducing the plushness of your suspension. Especially the front. Being on the front brake is like having someone pushing back on the bottom of your fork as it's trying to go through it's travel, creating extra friction. You want to use the front brake, because it slows you down so much more effectively than just the rear, but get your braking done in the straights before you enter the corner, and if you're going too fast for a rocky section, try to brake on the smooth stuff before you enter it, and then let your bike roll through it. It should reduce the harshness of the hits. Brakes aren't something to be on all the time. Brake only when you really mean to, do it effectively, then get off the brakes.
    "Great things are not accomplished by those who yield to trends and fads and popular opinion."-Jack Kerouac

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by rockyuphill View Post
    A friend of mine that I ride with can see a line over everything. I have a much harder time. If you're a glass half full sort of personality you are more likely to find a line on technical trails. If you're a glass half empty sort of personality, you will have to overcome the tendency to see nothing but obstacles on a trail.
    haha that's an awesome explanation! I know NOTHING of this

  14. #14
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    Speed is your friend and to get that ride A LOT. There is one trail that's not my favorite but for years I have been hitting it, because it's tight everywhere and gets your technical skill level up there.
    What am I going to do with forty subscriptions to Vibe?

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by miss rides a lot View Post
    haha that's an awesome explanation! I know NOTHING of this
    Did you actually ride this? I think someone changed this line. This is NOT rideable.

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  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by 8iking VIIking View Post
    Well by technical sections do you mean tight switchbacks? Rocks/roots? Ledges?

    For switchbacks: focus on exiting the turn fast rather than entering the turn fast. Do your braking before the turn, and possibly feather your rear brake through the turn. Also look to the exit of the turn as you hit the apex, and turn your hips where you want the bike to go: your bike will go where your eyes and hips tell it to go.

    For rocks/roots: loosen that stranglehold on the bars! Let's the bike flow over the obstacles, using your arms and legs as suspension.

    For ledges: at slow speed, compress the fork and then pull up on the bars to get your front end up and roll off the ledge. At higher speed, put all your weight on your feet and lean back a bit (with some slight upward pressure on the bars) and roll off. Practice on some curbs at first then work your way up
    All great advice here. It is common at the start of a race to over ride stuff and be less efficient and jerky as you jockey for those early lead positions, but if things spread out a bit it becomes much easier to stay off the brakes, by easing into the entrance of a turn and looking farther ahead, staying loose and letting the bike float over things.

  17. #17
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    I'll just add this: I find that the more tired I get, the more I let the bike do the work and the smoother I can ride. When you're tired, you kind of just let it all hang out and voila, the bike is doing the work it's meant to do vs myself trying to finesse it when I'm fresh. Trying to be loose at the start of the ride is what I aim for, but it can be difficult. It's super easy at the end of the ride. Food for thought.

  18. #18
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    Practice. Lots and lots and lots of practice. One way to improve real fast is to spend a few weekends at a bike park and just do downhill runs all day. Take the chairlift up, do a run, chairlift up, and back down, repeat until it becomes easy then move on the next hardest run and do it all over again. It'll teach you how to corner at speed, how to stay loose in the rough stuff, how to get a feel for what your bike is doing and just trust it, gets you comfortable with high speeds & gnarly terrain, and shows you how to use your vision to find & pick lines. At the end of each run, think about what you did well and what needs improvement, then make a plan for working on those things on the next run.

    For a bonus, ride the DH trails at the bike park on your XC bike after you get comfortable riding them on a DH bike, you'll likely be surprised at what your XC bike is capable of. If you can get comfortable with riding your XC bike on the DH runs, you'll be able to ride anything on an XC course at speed with complete confidence.

  19. #19
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    Aerius; that's great advice, 'seat time' is a large part of what's needed to be comfortable at speed. I took my xc bike to Whistler once about 12 years ago when I was really out of shape and I was still able to ride all day with the help of the chairlift.

  20. #20
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    I was lucky enough to get to demo a "big"ger bike a few weekends ago, and that still has my descending skill and confidence up. Hoping I get to take it out again in a few weekends at a local lift area!

  21. #21
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    Thanks for the advice, everyone. Did a local race here along the seacoast, NH. Just a fun short track 5.5 miler. Really made an attempt to stay loose and shoot out of the switch backs and I was able to drop about 30 seconds from my previous best time for that segment. Still a long way to go but I'm feeling a lot better about it. Thanks again.

  22. #22
    mnoutain bkie rdier
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    Like anything.

    Acknowledge the weakness. Formulate a plan. Practice. Then practice a lot more ")

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