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  1. #1
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    where and how to shave time.

    alright assuming that we are not number one in the country there are places that we can all improve. my question is if you wanted to ride smarter and not necessarily harder where would be the best spots pick up time. i have always thought downhills aren't it just because they are so fast that to gain a little would take alot and probably wouldn't see that much of a gain. are small pieces of road a good place? how about rough parts of the trail? maybe just the flat single track? any tips are appreciated i am just trying to use my currenty fitness as smart as possible to hopefully do a little better.

    than on another note because i think the best place to pick up time is in the rough stuff, how exactly would one go fast in a section that is constantly rooty with rocks mixed in, not many totally smooth lines to be found, probably for about 3-4 miles. i know people ride way faster than i do but i already feel when i sprint on these sections i am bouncing all over the place. standing makes it easier but i doubt i could stand for that many miles and have any gas left once i made it through. i have heard some put it in a little harder gear and ride that and it can make it faster and easier? any truth to that?

    the end goal of all of this for me is to shave 8 minues of a 1hr15 minute loop. looking to be at 1hr8min. it is the time that won last year so it is a good goal to have i think.

    thanks,
    adam

  2. #2
    LMN
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    The obvious is too climb faster. But that is easier said then done.

    Generally there is a ton of time to be found by just choosing the right lines.
    1. Practice cornering techniques that allow you to maintain speed on flats, climbs and descents.
    2. Pay attention to fast descents, is quicker to coast and tuck or put it in big gear and pedal. If you do decide to pedal, does that hurt you on the next climb.
    3. Play with your bike set-up. Find the optimal tire pressure and shock set-up for your particular loop.
    "The best pace is suicide pace, and today is a good day to die." Steve Prefontaine

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by LMN View Post
    The obvious is too climb faster. But that is easier said then done.

    Generally there is a ton of time to be found by just choosing the right lines.
    1. Practice cornering techniques that allow you to maintain speed on flats, climbs and descents.
    2. Pay attention to fast descents, is quicker to coast and tuck or put it in big gear and pedal. If you do decide to pedal, does that hurt you on the next climb.
    3. Play with your bike set-up. Find the optimal tire pressure and shock set-up for your particular loop.
    good info in there. climbing faster i think would make a difference except where i ride in new england mostly there just isn't any sustained climbs. i am talking a 4 minute climb at most and that is really only once. other than that they are less than a minute. dowhills are kinda the same thing they are so short i can usually stay of the brakes pretty good and go for it but it seems everyone else has the same idea... as far as my skills on downhills i believe they are fine. i am only a cat 3 guy so it isn't like anyone in my class is setting the world on fire but i do fairly well on them and have been to highland mtb park which was awesome and helped a crap load in staying of the breaks, and learning how fast they bikes can really go before they break loose.


    speaking in broad terms on suspension setup where is a good place to start. rebound on the faster or slower side and should the ride be more on the firm or softer side?

  4. #4
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    First of all, I'm just in my first year of racing and have learned a lot this year. So I'm no expert. Here are some things I learned.

    Took a MTB skills clinic taught by a former pro rider to teach me how to ride more efficiently. I learned that with a good body position, proper vision, I can descend much faster, turn faster, and use brakes much less. I also learned bike handling skills, I never knew existed. After tough climbs, I go all out in the non-technical parts. Other riders are trying to recover, drink, etc...I rest in the technical parts where passing is too hard anyways. Last I ride clean, smoother is faster...if I smack a tree, run off the trail or crash, I loose places and minutes.

    I'm still playing with riding a higher gear at a slower RPM or lower gear at higher RPM's. Not sure, but I believe there is a sweet spot with the right gear at a slightly higher RPM that allows you to accelerate when you need too with less energy.

    In an endurance race, I heard a coach say that the rider that wins is the rider that pedals the least. So learning bike skills that allow you to not brake makes a difference.

  5. #5
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    Get aero in open sections.

    Don't use too much energy in twisty singletrack or technical singletrack where "riding smooth" allows you to go just as fast or faster than trying to push the pace. (A local racer who knew his home trail really well told me to just relax in a certain section of trails about 3/4 of a mile long and just race smooth because there was a "speed limit" no matter how hard you rode. I followed his advice and had a great race, coming out of that section and quickly riding away from two guys who were my equal on most days.)

    Think ahead of time about where you need to go hard to not get stuck behind traffic in singletrack. Starts are an obvious example. Sometimes you might need to put yourself in the red a little bit to get a good position.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by crimecrusher View Post
    First of all, I'm just in my first year of racing and have learned a lot this year. So I'm no expert. Here are some things I learned.

    Took a MTB skills clinic taught by a former pro rider to teach me how to ride more efficiently. I learned that with a good body position, proper vision, I can descend much faster, turn faster, and use brakes much less. I also learned bike handling skills, I never knew existed. After tough climbs, I go all out in the non-technical parts. Other riders are trying to recover, drink, etc...I rest in the technical parts where passing is too hard anyways. Last I ride clean, smoother is faster...if I smack a tree, run off the trail or crash, I loose places and minutes.

    I'm still playing with riding a higher gear at a slower RPM or lower gear at higher RPM's. Not sure, but I believe there is a sweet spot with the right gear at a slightly higher RPM that allows you to accelerate when you need too with less energy.

    In an endurance race, I heard a coach say that the rider that wins is the rider that pedals the least. So learning bike skills that allow you to not brake makes a difference.
    I race in the northeast also and have come to the conclusion that the really fast guys areall super smooth and efficent riders and that is just lotsa time on the bike over the years. The rider that can ride clean saves time and energy for later.
    What I try is to always be pedaling , make myself push hard through the rough stuff but pace so that there is a little gas left in the tankfor a attack somewhere.

    Most courses here don't offer much for recovery , my last race HR average was 166 and max was 180 something so pretty much either on the gas or brakes all the time
    Btw something I should practice is staying off the brakes

  7. #7
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    Passing.

  8. #8
    M_S
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    Riding clean is my own biggest problem. A couple of weeks ago I went from fourth to 12th around the end of the first lap because of two(!) crashes caused partly by a malfunctioning front brake. I worked back up to 10th place and nobody else passed me. So yeah, not crashing. And mechanicals.

    I don't consider myself a bad bike handler. Middle of the road in most mountain biking races, but when I'm redlining I can get pretty stupid.
    - Simon

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by nyxcracer View Post
    I race in the northeast also and have come to the conclusion that the really fast guys areall super smooth and efficent riders and that is just lotsa time on the bike over the years. The rider that can ride clean saves time and energy for later.
    What I try is to always be pedaling , make myself push hard through the rough stuff but pace so that there is a little gas left in the tankfor a attack somewhere.

    Most courses here don't offer much for recovery , my last race HR average was 166 and max was 180 something so pretty much either on the gas or brakes all the time
    Btw something I should practice is staying off the brakes
    Very true. Our Florida courses are similar--no big climbs but also no rest, and mostly singletrack.

    I'm a solid rider, but much stronger on the road bike right now than the mountain bike (at least on Florida courses). My fitness seems to always progress a little faster than my speed on twisty singletrack. A buddy of mine who has been racing mountain bikes for years told me I need just need more "tits"--time in the saddle.

  10. #10
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    gatorback i like that idea of some parts of trails having a speed limit. seems like a waste to try to go fast in those sections cause they are either so twisty or rough that it is counter productive. kinda the opposite of my go fast in the rough stuff idea.

    flargle, luckily i have never had a problem with passing, people are pretty cool around here and haven't had any problems. i guess if you say on your left loud enough and pass them before the words are out of your mouth they don't really have a choice.

    i am going to try the loop again and push it on all the straights, and singletrack that doesn't have many corners on it. when i get to the tough stuff i will just try to keep my heart rate and breathing under control and see what kind of time i get.

  11. #11
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    The most important thing to going fast on a trail like the one you describe is MOMENTUM. You need to be smooth and fast on the downhills to in order to maximize the speed you can carry on the uphills. This will save you a lot of energy and get you over the hill faster. On the shorter climbs, I would just be out of the saddle the entire time in order to take as much momentum with me as I could.

  12. #12
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    abumb,
    do you have anyone to train with?
    If you have someone faster to follow just try to hold their wheel for a lap.
    I've gotten alot from chasing one of my teammates around , picking good lines and stuff like that-

    I thought I was a pretty good rider until I moved to Cat1 and got smoked, I think like Gatorback said 'tits' is the key. Iknow from years past when I did alot of road riding I wasn't fast in the woods either

    Good luck to you

  13. #13
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    Two things for improving performance in flatter races:

    1. Put out more power
    2. Have the skills to handle that power

    Even though I race in a long hill area, I've done some pancake flat race pace riding and couldn't help notice how bigger dudes were really killing it. Even though their power/weight was much lower, they rode well because their power was high, and their handling skills superb. Flatter racing is definitely much different. But it doesn't take much of a hill to change everything.
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  14. #14
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    alright got an update for my loop today. went really well. i pushed it in all the easy spots that didn't have many turns that would kill my speed. i pedaled hard enough to not need to use the breaks in the twisty stuff cause i thought that would just be a waste of energy.. dialed it way back in the super techy sections. including the one hill that is all chewed up and the longest on of the ride. any hill that was smooth enough i blasted up as hard as i could...

    drum roll.......... 1:11:05 that includes me taking a wrong turn like a complete idiot, maybe cost me 20-25 seconds. for a reference i was at 1:15:07 so that is over for minutes faster just by riding smarter. thanks for all the tips i am going to work on pushing it even harder on the easy spots since it was my first time i still wasn't sure how hard i could go in the easy spots since i wasn't used to riding like this.

  15. #15
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    I'm not much of a racer at all, but I'm into a Cup for this year and I've realized some things about flats and peaks originating from basic physics. Weight gets out of the equation (Power/Weight ratio = Faster) on level ground because there, on the flat, it doesn't matter at all, it counts next to zero (if pedaling acceleration variations are not considered to be more precise) . What's left, all you need actually, is Power necessary to counteract Air resistance,the major factor to counteract in order to build and keep your speed.
    That changes a lot when you need to climb, weight gets back in the equation and the more you climb the most it matters. Then you either need to increase Power or to lower Weight to Gain a higher ratio that will shave your time!
    At least that's my understanding...

  16. #16
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    Looks like you starting to get quicker Here's some rules of thumb picked up over the years that seem to apply to many forms of racing:
    1: Smooth is faster', smooth relates to skills that will hold up under pressure. So learn all the skills you can and practice, practice and practice some more when you are stuffed.
    2: Apply yourself in those sections where most time is spent. e.g. more time is spent on 1k uphill than a 1k downhill on most courses, 10% quicker uphill saves more time than 10% quicker downhill (see 4). So learn to climb and TRAIN to climb - ie specific training routines for climbing. If your tracks/rides are technical single track, train for that terrain.
    3: Strength on climbs helps weight doesn't (an extra 1kg estimated to require 5 watts of power from memory!?). So use strength training for climbing not for outright power - eg the diff between sprinters and climbers in tour france. Lose excess weight and find out what your best racing weight is.
    4: Drop power output 15% for every 10 kph able to travel at. At 10kph or less 90-100% power; 10 to 20 kph 85% power; 20-30 kph 70% power; 30-40kph 65% over 50kph only enough to maintain speed. Remember this is 'rule of thumb' not absolute, and applies more to distance than short 2 hour events.
    5: Pre-ride the route whenever possible, ride with a gps and map the ride to google maps or bing and learn the track where the climbs, technical, and easy sections are.
    6: Pay attention to food input and hydration before, during and after events and use a SPORTS dietician for help. (Look at Low Residue diet to reduce stool weight - ROFL )
    7: Brakes are for slowing down not going faster. If you must use them learn to use them to maximise their performance and reduce the time they are on ie brake hard.
    8: Turn on brain before the race/event/ride and keep it on even when stuffed, looks like you're doing this already

    HTH.


    Quote Originally Posted by adumb View Post
    drum roll.......... 1:11:05 that includes me taking a wrong turn like a complete idiot, maybe cost me 20-25 seconds. for a reference i was at 1:15:07 so that is over for minutes faster just by riding smarter. thanks for all the tips i am going to work on pushing it even harder on the easy spots since it was my first time i still wasn't sure how hard i could go in the easy spots since i wasn't used to riding like this.

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by EthanDM View Post
    The most important thing to going fast on a trail like the one you describe is MOMENTUM. You need to be smooth and fast on the downhills to in order to maximize the speed you can carry on the uphills. This will save you a lot of energy and get you over the hill faster. On the shorter climbs, I would just be out of the saddle the entire time in order to take as much momentum with me as I could.
    + a billion. Momentum Momentum Momentum. This the main reason ss'ers and experts carry such high averages. Granted it takes a lot of saddle time to become smooth and be able to carry your momentum, it will give you the biggest gains in time at your level. That and putting in base miles for a couple seasons.

  18. #18
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    If there are fast smooth sections, do get aero. If possible, just rest your palms on the bar next to the stem, it channels the air around your body instead of scooping it in.

    Also, when topping a climb, flay your legs for another 10 seconds to get up to cruise speed, instead of easing off.

    Peoples' riding styles vary, but for me, getting out of the saddle is costly. More muscles involved, more oxygen consumption... best to stay seated on climbs if possible.

  19. #19
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    Although with short punchy climbs like the OP is talking about, carrying the most momentum as possible means that there might be some standing involved, even if it is just for very short periods of time.

  20. #20
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    Some things I've picked up: (not that I always remember to do them...)

    When approaching the long stretches of roots and rocks, have a lot of speed, and then pull up on the front so you skim across the stuff. You kind of use the first bump as a mini ramp to jump the next couple feet. Keep the bike pushed out ahead of you. Pedal when you can (in a harder gear) to keep your speed. I find a harder gear makes it easier to keep your traction.

    Knowing the course is key. Learn alternate lines up all the harder hills. This way if someone stalls, you have options. Same with the rock gardens. Try to find the best way through, but also have a back up plan (and practice it).

    Be careful not to lean too far forward when you attack. I try to stay centered over my pedals when I stand and hammer. Imagine "dancing on the pedals" as opposed to sprinting forward. It helps you keep the back wheel from spinning out whenever you hit a bump.

    Do hill repeats and intervals to get stronger and faster.

    Ride one more lap than you have to race. On race day the course will seem shorter.

    In South Jersey, we have the same stuff you describe. Short burst climbs, no long climbs, plenty of tight twisty stuff, and lots of roots. Good luck on your race!
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  21. #21
    Rod
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    Adumb, I noticed you are a cat 3 rider so there may be several places to start:
    Do you have local group rides? If so, do you attend?
    How many miles a week do you ride?
    Do you own a road bike?
    Do you do intervals? If so, what kind?
    I noticed you do ride at race pace, which is great.

    With your race being mainly a flat your engine and bike handling skills are key. If you can answer the above questions we can help you out.
    There is not much choice between rotten apples.

  22. #22
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    As has already been stated learn to maintain momentum. In twisty singletrack you don't necessarily want to go slow, instead you want to maximize the amount of momentum you carry through the corners. What doesn't make sense is hammering in between corners and slamming on the brakes at each corner, that's just a waste of energy. Find a middle ground where you're not wasting a lot of energy accelerating out of every turn, instead carrying a good amount of speed through the corner. You'd be surprised how much energy you can save on twisty course if you get good at this. The more experience you get cornering at speed the better you'll get. If you aren't very good at cornering get behind someone else who you've noticed is fast through the corners and pay attention to what they're doing.

    If technical sections are all over the place learn to become more efficient through them. If non-technical sections are abundant you'll need to work on fitness more than skill, cross training on the road is generally a good way improve fitness.

  23. #23
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    Lots of people have said to be "smooth" so to do that you need to think about body position and weighting, coming to the front side of an obstacle make yourself lighter, then on the back side of the obstacle make yourself heavier. Learn how to "flow" over the trail and "pump" the obstacles, use any grade that is down to gain speed off of.

    I did a clinic with Wade Simmons last week and the best piece of advice I have ever received was to keep your weight "forward" and attack the technical stuff. Always try to have your chin at your bars. This helped me since I have always tried to be in a good "attack" position with my weight centered, and my hips and shoulders fairly low, but I found that once I added this new piece to the puzzle I was in an amazing attack position and I am definitely going faster though single track without using any more power out of my legs. Just be ready for a full body workout.

    Lastly don't be a lemming, sometimes it is much faster to go over the big rock and "pump" off of the backside to gain more speed and have a better line.
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