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  1. #1
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    How to go fast in tight single track??

    I rode a course today that I will be racing next weekend and there is alot of tight twisty single track that I apparently suck at. I would catch someone in the open fields or uphill, and then when it got to the single track, I would try going as fast as possible and they would disappear until it opened back up and I would see them in the distance. I think I'm going fast, but obviously I'm doing something wrong.

  2. #2
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    keep your fingers off the brakes

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    Quote Originally Posted by k6monster View Post
    I rode a course today that I will be racing next weekend and there is alot of tight twisty single track that I apparently suck at. I would catch someone in the open fields or uphill, and then when it got to the single track, I would try going as fast as possible and they would disappear until it opened back up and I would see them in the distance. I think I'm going fast, but obviously I'm doing something wrong.
    Look where you want to go, not where you don't.

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    Ride the course as much as you can to get a feel for each corner, and what lines you need to pick. Get a feel for when you need to scrub speed and then put the hammer down.

    Most of the trails in my area are so tight you can never really see past 25 feet or so. To go fast through terrain like this you need to either be able to accelerate fast or carry more speed through the tight turns.

    You could also try some different tires to see if this can help you improve.

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    I live to far from the race course to go practice more, but Ive been looking up tips and videos online... I'm going to spend the week working on technique. This is a "recovery" week anyways. My recovery rides can be spent working on cornering.

  6. #6
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    What's your plan for working on cornering?

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by savagenative View Post
    keep your fingers off the brakes
    +1 Learn to flow through switchbacks and tech areas smoothly.

    where and how to shave time. Here's a tread from just two days ago.

  8. #8
    Rod
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    Quote Originally Posted by Niles View Post
    What's your plan for working on cornering?
    I haven't seen you ride, but this is probably your problem and where you can benefit the most. I was in a similar race yesterday and I got passed on double track by a guy who already crashed once on the first lap. Anyways, he got in front of me, hit the brakes on every corner, and sprinted out of every corner. He was pushing himself into the red zone after every turn. You don't want to do that to try and catch the guy in front of you.
    Last edited by Rod; 07-18-2011 at 05:58 AM.
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    Force yourself to keep your eyes 15 feet ahead of where they naturally want to go. It's scary at first, until you realize you're not hitting anything and keeping a lot more speed.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by savagenative View Post
    keep your fingers off the brakes
    +2. New riders brake way more than they need to. Me included. I'm working on it.

    Get comfortable descending at high speed. That momentum will carry you up the next hill.

    When you do have to scrub speed, do it before a corner, not in a corner.

    On hardpack dirt, a lip sometimes forms on the outside of corners. You can ride it like a mini-berm, lean more, and take the corner faster.

    Look ahead and anticipate your gear changes. Best to stay in one ring in the front and simply use the rear derailleur in tight technical stuff, unless the course is also strongly vertical.

    On short punchy climbs lasting a few seconds, accelerate before the climb and stand up and hammer to maintain momentum, rather than gear down, if you can manage it.
    Last edited by ray.vermette; 07-18-2011 at 07:29 AM.

  11. #11
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    i had the same problem a few years ago and it was all about keeping fingers off the brake. It's imperative you trust your tires, so make sure you have proper tires/psi for the trail conditions. Took me a LONG time to finally trust my tires (Karma's). I just switched to Renegades and I suck again in tight track because I'm not 100% confident that they can stick when I need them too. I just have to get some saddle time in.

  12. #12
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    Lots of good stuff here! One thing I'd like to add is, always try to be mindful of hitting the apex of a turn as best you possibly can, while considering other obstacles in your way.

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    In the end you have to find the flow in the track....that means you need to practice the lines to find which ones fit you and your style....

    In the absence of the ability to practice the course....

    Find a smoother rider and follow him for the first lap anyway.

  14. #14
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    Practice the above but remember what you're good at, don't panic, try to keep the rider in front of you in sight and them make them hurt on the open flats and uphills. You might be able to gain back whatever you lose in the tight stuff.

  15. #15
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    I have issues with that condition too.

    Practice helps. Practicing that course would help, but it's a little late now.

    If you're not nailing the apexes at the right time, IME it's better to hit them too late than too early. Another way of saying this is that it's how much speed you carry out of the corner that counts.

    The berms suggestion is a good one. Look for anything you can use.

    Ride with teammates who are fast in this stuff, and hang on for dear life.

    As a long-term thing, I've promised myself some practice time on the specific trail networks and courses that my early-season series uses. They're tighter and more technical than I'm good at, and I get worse finishes there than anything else I do, but being bad in that stuff hurts me in my 'A' races too.

    See if you can find something close to you to practice on, with similar conditions.
    "Don't buy upgrades; ride up grades." -Eddy Merckx

  16. #16
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    Practice how far you can lean the bike before the tires break away. Wear knee/shin guards for protection. Keep looking in the direction you want to go. Eye up the outer edge of the curve and swing as wide as you can as you enter it. Dive to the inside toward the apex, and then pedal out of the curve. I found that being in a slightly harder gear helps you pedal in the turn and keep a higher overall speed. The trick is to avoid going into the curve too fast, breaking harder, and then using a lot of energy to get back up to speed.

    Also, try a wider tire in the front. I used to run Specialized Captain 2.0 width in the front. When I switched to Specialized Purgatory 2.2 width, I felt a lot more confident in my cornering. It's slightly heavier, but you could get the Sworks race one which is very light.

    Also the wider your handle bars, the more stable you'll feel in the curves.
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  17. #17
    Rod
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    Quote Originally Posted by jeffscott View Post
    In the end you have to find the flow in the track....that means you need to practice the lines to find which ones fit you and your style....

    In the absence of the ability to practice the course....

    Find a smoother rider and follow him for the first lap anyway.
    this is great advice if they don't pull away from you really fast. also someone else mentioned that you have to trust your tires. That's imperative.
    There is not much choice between rotten apples.

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rod";8254879]this is great advice if they don't pull away from you really fast.[COLOR="Red
    Yup that is true[/COLOR] also someone else mentioned that you have to trust your tires. That's imperative.
    Thing is if somebody blows by you or pulls away from you, another guy will be along in a second or two...

    Well unless you are DFL....then you have lots of time to practice.

  19. #19
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    My $0.02
    If you're going fast but blowing the turns there is a lot of wasted energy.
    Eyes way out in front
    Do most of your braking before the turn
    Be back on the bike, this varies but is somewhere in line with the seat tube
    Keep bike more perpendicular to the ground. Meaning lean your body more than than your bike to keep the business side of the tires down.
    If there is a well established groove in what looks like the right spot use it. Duh.
    Be in the right gear before the turn for a powerful corner exit

  20. #20
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    too late for this weekend, but -

    try a skills workshop from a skilled instructor. It sounds dumb, but there are quite a few "basic skills" that we probably either never learned or forgot. I've been riding bikes for going on close to 50 years and havent' thought about skills during much of that time. Think about how much time ski racers spend on basic skills to perfect their turns.

    I took a one day seminar from Lee McCormick. Learned a ton and every ride since I find myself gaining confidence and free speed (and I'm a geezer and have no interest in crashing!). I feel much more comfortable and in control at higher speeds and riding (some) obstacle that I used to walk. I'm not talking about being braver, or less afraid of crashing - I'm talking about using skills that give you the stability and confidence that you're less likely to lose control.

  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by deano machineo View Post
    Keep bike more perpendicular to the ground. Meaning lean your body more than than your bike to keep the business side of the tires down.
    Could not disagree more. When doing quick turns at speed, it's much easier to maneuver a 20-25 lb bike back and forth than your own 130-180 lb weight. Tires are designed to grab laterally when angled and along the wheel when level. Also, keeping your weight above the contact patch of the tires as much as possible also means if the tires do slide out, you fall straight down instead of flying out of the turn into trees.

    My $.02. Maybe my technique is wrong.

  22. #22
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    I find that "using the brakes less" had me blowing corners and coming in to hot. I found that braking earlier and having the brakes completely off for the second 1/2 of the corner was a better way to visualize what I needed to do.

    If you have the opportunity try playing on a BMX pump track. Preferably on a BMX bike. I found the mechanics and body position I learned helped a lot on the trail.

    Good luck

  23. #23
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    Some good advice here. I think there are a lot of factors that make someone quick on tight single-track. Correct tyres and pressures, confidence in those tyres, skill, confidence, body position, correct braking, correct lines, correct gear selection. I raced a course at the weekend that was like this and noticed that some people are just too tentative, looks like they are scared of falling off! If you have the right set-up and the skill just go for it, like someone said earlier, learn where they tyre limits are. Learn how to go downhill fast, this will transfer over well. I know guys that are similarly skilled to me but I descend faster only because I brake less.

  24. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by Drider85 View Post
    I find that "using the brakes less" had me blowing corners and coming in to hot. I found that braking earlier and having the brakes completely off for the second 1/2 of the corner was a better way to visualize what I needed to do.
    Agree, I've had a number of times in races where I've been behind someone who I thought was taking corners too slow. I'd pass them then immediately start washing out and blowing corners while they're still on my tail. Coming into corners too hot always feels faster but usually isn't.

  25. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by ryguy135 View Post
    Could not disagree more. When doing quick turns at speed, it's much easier to maneuver a 20-25 lb bike back and forth than your own 130-180 lb weight. Tires are designed to grab laterally when angled and along the wheel when level. Also, keeping your weight above the contact patch of the tires as much as possible also means if the tires do slide out, you fall straight down instead of flying out of the turn into trees.

    My $.02. Maybe my technique is wrong.
    Yes. I find much more success leaning the bike and not the body as much. Of course there are exceptions. By leaning the bike more aggressively than the body, I'm able to stay loose, and "feel" the tires slide slightly, controllably, predictably. When I lean the body more, or even lean the body in line with the bike, when tire starts to slide, my body suddenly leans more, which causes the slide more, which ends with my shoulder on the ground.

    I've found this to be true for both mtb racing as well as tight and fast crit racing. Staying loose is key!

    Just my perspective.

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