The wildly different speeds of mountain bikers.- Mtbr.com
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  1. #1
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    The wildly different speeds of mountain bikers.

    I generally ride with the group of mates that I have ammased over the years. We are old dudes in our 40's, 50's. But we do punch some tech stuff and generally ride at a good speed.

    Occasionally I ride with others and I find it very interesting the wildy different speeds that people ride at.

    I went for a ride with an old school mate recently. He is not a hardened mtber, has a $500 shitter hard tail. I would blaze down an easy track that would maybe be 1min then wait 3-4 mins for him to arrive.

    On another occasion I went for a ride with an xc mate an we bombed down this track that I considered a bit tech but not too hard. XC mate was eyes wide open shitting bricks and walked a good portion of it. His level of tech was vastly different than mine.

    Then I'm riding with a couple of my crazy bastard mates and my god those farkers are fast. How the hell do they ride round that corner that fast? its a different level up from me.

    Then I ride with a couple of pro enduro riders and they are next level again. Where do they get there speed from? how the hell did they just clear that gap with no run up or even seeing the trail before?

    It is entertaining to understand the wildly different levels of riders that are out there.

    Discuss.

  2. #2
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    Fitness level, wattage, skills, talent, commitment. And weighing 150 lbs helps too.
    Use it, use it, use it while you still have it.

  3. #3
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    Experience in a wide variety of terrain over the years and access to quality single track. Racing too.
    Ripping trails and tipping ales

  4. #4
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    This is basically the main challenge I face while trying to find riding partners.

  5. #5
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    Yup, me and our riding crew are about same. Same age, similar ability. We have lots of experience and hold our own in the crowd. We arent slow, but we arent fast.
    Aside from physical conditioning, some people are just wired differently. Try as i might, there just is no way i could do as fast as the faster dh guys.

  6. #6
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    Nothing new there. You should spend some time in a climbing gym, then attend some bouldering competitions. No equipment there to complicate the assessments. I have seen things that challenge my (usually excellent) grasp of physics. I have come to accept that living gods walk among mere men.

    And goddesses too: woman runs 5:25 mile while nine months pregnant

  7. #7
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    It happens. I enjoy riding with people faster than me, usually, though occasionally it has led me to exceed my capabilities. And I'm happy to ride with people slower than me if they have a good attitude. If you make me wait at the end of a good techy descent then moan all the way back up the hill about how you hated it because of how hard it was I'm not going to bother waiting next time!

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by Train Wreck View Post
    This is basically the main challenge I face while trying to find riding partners.
    This is why I ride solo.

  9. #9
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    I ride solo 95% of the time. I pretty much prefer it, because I can then ride at whatever pace I feel like for the day. I normally ride pretty fast, but at about 80-90% of my best ability.

    When I ride with friends, it's quite different. I don't really care what the pace is, I just want to make sure they have fun. The only time I really get mildly annoyed with someone going slower than I'd like is if there was limited time to begin with, and the slow pace means we won't get to do a certain section I was planning on.

    I have one friend who is faster than me (he's faster than everybody, lol). I have to struggle a bit, but can keep up with him on climbs. Not so much on the downhills. What he does in corners defies the laws of physics. I consider myself decent at cornering; not excellent, but if the trail has lots of corners I cannot even keep him in sight. If the trail is straighter, I have a better shot at keeping up, regardless of how technical it is.
    I only ride loam:)

  10. #10
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    Like any sport, there are all levels of personal fitness and skill level involved. I think mtb has a more noticeable range however, due to accessibility. As much as we moan about the expensive bikes, you CAN get a bike for a few hundred dollars, then go ride local single track, for free. Other sports, like skiing for example, are prohibitively expensive. So if you are not good at it, and not showing improvement, it's unlikely you'll keep paying for lift tickets. And it's not just price, biking can be done year round, but in most places skiing can't. Almost everywhere has some form of biking available, but few places have skiing.

    Also, I think with MTB you don't have to be "good" at it (like professional downhill riders) to enjoy it. I'm slow as snails, struggle uphill, and ride the brakes on the downhills an embarrassing amount, but I still think it's fun. Other things are less fun when you suck at it. Falling down mountains all day (skiing) hurts. Surfing is not fun if all you do is fall. Golf is more frustrating then enjoyable when you hit 12 strokes every hole.

    One other thing, is the widely varying perception of what mountain biking is. To some, it's a very dangerous, highly technical sport that requires immense skill and training to navigate treacherous terrain and high speeds without incurring severe injury or death. To others, it's just a riding a toy through the woods, little kids ride bikes, anybody can do it. It's not dangerous because why would you ride over a root or rock any more than you would drive a Toyota Camry off the pavement?

    I think all of these things contribute to the wide range of speeds you see on the trails.
    -Flat Bars, Flat Pedals, Flat Saddle, and frequently Flat Tires.

  11. #11
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    I think some of the slower people are folks who don't understand that mtb requires certain skills and physical fitness. They think it's just a bike, I should be able to sit on my couch for 10 years, then just go mtb expert trails without any previous experience or exercising. In other words, they don't realize what they're getting into.
    -Flat Bars, Flat Pedals, Flat Saddle, and frequently Flat Tires.

  12. #12
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    I'm kind of like the OP in that "in between" group. I'm faster than almost any of the "recreational" riders I see on the trail, and I pass many folks during my daily ride.

    There is another group of super-fit, super-fast guys (yes, all guys; no women. Don't ask me why. That's just how it is). I can't hang with these guys for more than 30 seconds. They go so fast it just blows my mind.

    For example, our local loop is about 7 miles of singletrack. I'd say it takes most weekender type casual riders probably 45 minutes to an hour to complete the loop. I ride almost every day, but I'm old and fat and I'm usually about 34-36 minutes. Maybe 33 on a good day. There are a few other folks in this group--I see them on Strava although I usually ride alone.

    This "other" group routinely does the loop in less than 30 minutes, some even as fast as 26 minutes. They're all thin and super fit, which explains their advantage on the climbs, but I still can't comprehend how they go so fast through the turns and drops. It's amazing to see.

    Another interesting observation about the "super fast" group--the don't seem to get dirty. When I finish just one lap at my moderate pace, I'm sweaty covered in mud and blood, and my bike is also covered in mud. Eveb after 3 laps, these superfast guys look like they just got dressed and their bikes just rolled off the showroom floor. Maybe they go so fast the dirt doesn't have time to attach to them and their bikes.
    Last edited by celswick; 10-25-2020 at 01:27 AM.

  13. #13
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    if you want to go fast just go spend some time drilling corners and spending time on a pump track.

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    I like to think that the hours I have spent at the pump track this year have made me faster, and they likely have, but I can say without a doubt my smiling to time alive ratio has definitely improved. Riding with faster riders is awesome and really makes you push yourself. With slower riders, you either have to be in the group ride/helping them learn mindset or just agree to meet up at break points. If that can't work, separate ways. Everyone is at different stages of riding. It is really awesome when you can cobble together a train that all seems to be on the same pace. Those rides need to be extended as long as the legs will allow.

  15. #15
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    I think line choice through the tech is critical for speed. Often times its not the obvious line also.

    One of my Crazy fast mates is very interesting to ride with. On a his goto local track 5 mins ride from his house I cannot come close to going the same speed as him. He beats me by a full minute on his strava time for the descent. His is 5 minutes mine is 6. Yet on my 6m run I'm eyes wide open, white knuckle speed.

    He is the practicer and the line finder. He is also Mr precision when it comes to riding. He knows exactly what to do with every root and rock and corner of that track with mm precision. When I do keep up for a while and follow him down the lines are really interesting. He is using the whole width of the track and not in a way you would expect.

    I ride that particular track 3-4 times a year, so I dont have the lines committed to memory. But when he shows me some of those lines and pull them off, my strava time decreases a noticeable amount, yet I don't feel like I'm riding at the limit. The track is smoother, and flows better with those "secret" line. Its generally a more fun experience.

    Then when he comes for a ride on one of my locals the situation is reversed. I blaze away from him because I have the secret lines dialed. When we ride a track neither of us ride often we are a similar speed. If its a track that both of us are virgins on I am faster. Sometimes quite a lot faster. But if he gets that track and practices it prolifically and finds those secret go fast lines he's gone. He will exceed the speed down that track than I can ever obtain.

  16. #16
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    Plummet, some folks take notice trail features more than others... Go figure!

    As for speeds etc., I tend to ride solo mosty. Group rides, I do adjust pace as well as I can to keep the whole thing going smoothly.

    Solo, I run at a fast pace some days, others I am in exploration mode and taking it a little slow looking for deer trails that are sometimes hidden. Deer trails are hidden gems in the rough and it is requited to investigate them thouroughly. My faster ride paces are when I ride in V8 mode! I give it all I have and these are typically shorter but all out efforts.

    Exploring the deer trails... This is a time at which a moderate pace is on tap. Features need to be seen and noticed as learning the trail and its composition also necessary. A well developed deer trail can be a rail trail or a trials section and sometimes a mix of both. A mix of rail and trialsy is a bonus! Sunspot loves the rail and trialsy trails... How better to make a Middlechild happy as a pig in mud??

    So with all that said... Too many variables to narrow it down to a given pace. That makes this a difficult topic.
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  17. #17
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    We all have different capacities, and different levels of desire to make the most of them. I have very modest amounts of either, and thus have always been a back of the pack guy on the relatively few occasions I've ridden in groups.

    Some people can produce high watts for sustained periods. If they work to maximize that gift, along with honing skills and technique, they can be elite riders/racers. They don't pick their way through the trail. They freaking fly over it, seemingly barely touching it.
    Use it, use it, use it while you still have it.

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by plummet View Post
    I think line choice through the tech is critical for speed. Often times its not the obvious line also.

    One of my Crazy fast mates is very interesting to ride with. On a his goto local track 5 mins ride from his house I cannot come close to going the same speed as him. He beats me by a full minute on his strava time for the descent. His is 5 minutes mine is 6. Yet on my 6m run I'm eyes wide open, white knuckle speed.

    He is the practicer and the line finder. He is also Mr precision when it comes to riding. He knows exactly what to do with every root and rock and corner of that track with mm precision. When I do keep up for a while and follow him down the lines are really interesting. He is using the whole width of the track and not in a way you would expect.

    I ride that particular track 3-4 times a year, so I dont have the lines committed to memory. But when he shows me some of those lines and pull them off, my strava time decreases a noticeable amount, yet I don't feel like I'm riding at the limit. The track is smoother, and flows better with those "secret" line. Its generally a more fun experience.

    Then when he comes for a ride on one of my locals the situation is reversed. I blaze away from him because I have the secret lines dialed. When we ride a track neither of us ride often we are a similar speed. If its a track that both of us are virgins on I am faster. Sometimes quite a lot faster. But if he gets that track and practices it prolifically and finds those secret go fast lines he's gone. He will exceed the speed down that track than I can ever obtain.
    It's a very interesting subject!

    I think a great majority of riders plateau and never progress further, and how far they get is pretty much luck and who they ride with when they started out. Many techniques are not intuitive, so unless you seek out coaching or really study the problem you won't make progress. I think many are afraid to make progress, others just don't care.

    IMO, a great majority of speed comes down to cornering and line choice, with the ability to do other things like jump, bunny hop, etc. coming into play depending on the trail. But, one is dependent on the other. If you can't corner and maintain speed, then you also can't take the fastest lines. Cornering is the most difficult and least intuitive skill in mt biking, so this is the largest limiting factor I see. Most non-pros suck at cornering, and yes there are more advanced pockets of riders sort of "in-between" but these are kinda rare all things considered. Probably more here on forums, PB, amateur DH and enduro racing, etc than you'll find out riding the trails.

    In any case, I am on an enduro race team and we did some coaching for community outreach this year. I coached some kids on cornering, and I can tell you that intuitively, kids grab their bikes and simply do it all wrong, and this applies to ALL of them. Out of 20 or so kids, absolutely NONE of them have a good intuitive feel on how to corner a mt bike. If this isn't corrected, they will get tons of experience doing it wrong and will NEVER figure it out. This is why most people never make it past an intermediate level of mt biking, and why you see some folks plateau and never improve.

    So while I agree with practice, riding pump tracks, etc. it's also very easy to practice wrong and simply reinforce bad technique. 29'ers make this all much worse, as cornering a 9er using poor technique is even worse than smaller wheel sizes, but OTOH it can sometimes make people realize how bad their technique is and seek to improve it (like me). So the entire point is, if you're serious about improving, pay for some coaching, read books, look at vids (especially in slow motion) or often still pics show technique a lot more clearly. Watch Bruni attack a DH course in real time and it doesn't look like he's doing much, pros make it look so easy. You have to slow it down or look at still pics to pick up on what they are doing. Take the time to do easy drills like figure-8s on pavement in order to retrain your motor cortex, this is 100% necessary as it's NOT POSSIBLE to retrain your bad habits going full speed on the trail. You need to do drills, and do them with proper technique, then slowly apply this to riding trails.

    I'd also say, at the pointy end times also get pointier, they converge, this is obvious to see when watching racing. I often wait minutes for people and think that's a long time. For pros 10 seconds is a long time, but if I can come within 10 sec of a fast friend I'm often psyched!

  19. #19
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    Davec113,

    There is a need for coaching and instruction since a large portion of riding is not intuitive in the least. So much benefit can bring more enjoyment to so many.
    Canning poor handling technique and bad habits becomes more difficult the longer it occurs but as you pointed out, not impossible to retrain and eliminate. Spot on!
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  20. #20
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    any endeavor with a large skill curve will experience this. Chess, videogames, or biking. I finished in the top 35% on a XC race. didn't stop an chubby girl on an all mountain bike with a 20 min handicap to pass me.

    it's not the bike, it's the rider and the consistent training.

  21. #21
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    Most people are just happy to go out and ride their bike. Getting to the next level is not something they are interested in or have the time and motivation to do.

    Every sport is like this. It take time, money, effort and focus to be really good at anything. It can turn a hobby into feeling like a job and a lot of people do their hobby to get away from the grind of a job

  22. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by bob13bob View Post
    any endeavor with a large skill curve will experience this. Chess, videogames, or biking. I finished in the top 35% on a XC race. didn't stop an chubby girl on an all mountain bike with a 20 min handicap to pass me.

    it's not the bike, it's the rider and the consistent training.
    eh bike setup and knowing how to optimize equipment can have huge affect on how fast you can ride, especially in certain circumstances.

    There is a DH at my local trails that I dropped 1:03 to :43 second just by going from a 125mm dropper to a 180mm dropper. I actually put the 125mm dropper back on to see if it was fluke and after three attempts I was in the 1:05-1:10 range.

  23. #23
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    Thereís the skills part, and the fitness part. Skills wise I can keep up with most of my friends and even beat them on downhill stuff and techy sections. Put us on hills and pedally smooth stuff and they are gone. Itís a combo.


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  24. #24
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    My favourite riding crew (not all guys) are for the most part quite a bit younger and faster than me. It's so much fun trying to keep up with them and they don't seem to mind waiting a bit for me. It's a great way to get better and faster. I am still near the front on the climbs and not the slowest on the downhills.

  25. #25
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    davec113

    I have almost the opposite experience.

    I run a high school MTB team. I remember early on going to do some cornering drills and watching the kids go through the corners and thinking well "it looks like we need to work on fitness".

    We ended up going to the Matt Hunter corner and trying to replicate it.
    The wildly different speeds of mountain bikers.-p6pb10883974.jpg

    They are getting close:
    https://www.instagram.com/p/CBhN7zcAy0O/
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  26. #26
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    Quote Originally Posted by Frantic29 View Post
    Thereís the skills part, and the fitness part. Skills wise I can keep up with most of my friends and even beat them on downhill stuff and techy sections. Put us on hills and pedally smooth stuff and they are gone. Itís a combo.


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    There is another part being omitted. Some of us have issues like blown knees and back troubles.
    I for one have been doing dirt for more than 40 years. All those years of throwing this spindly body against a concrete wall, getting up and doing it many more times that day has left a mark.
    I suffer from scoliosis, have two blown knees and had heart surgery 7 years ago.
    While I have the skillset and core strength, I do have good days and some bad ones from time to time. On my good days, I'll often treat my bike like it is equipped with a big block... Go fast as is possible, hit as many features as I can feasibly do. The bad day, I'll hit one of my favorite flow trails and take a moderate speed through it. What I do not do is forfeit a day of riding my bike, I endure and continue to exist since being sedentary is wholly unacceptable.

    The above is not directed at anyone, just supplemental information on why speeds may vary.
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  27. #27
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    Back in my racing days. I raced XC for 8 years and ]dh for a similar amount. I came to the conclusion that I would not be world class, the best I could hope for in xc and DH was upper level national racing but never winning.

    Doing some heart rate training with a fast mate that would always beat me in the xc races was very telling. He went on his OE for a year. Banged his way around the globe and came back with not as fit as unusual as he hadn't ridden much, I was the fittest I had ever been and was racing regularly. By all accounts I should have whipped the flour with him. But I couldn't. We did this 50km ride with a 350m climb at the 45km mark. We both maxed heart rates out at the top, rolled down the other side and 5 mins later his heart rate had dropped back to 130 of beats, mine was still pumping at 170+.....

    How could this be? I was well trained and fitter than him by a long shot! My conclusion was that he had a more efficient engine than me. His VO2 max lungs/heart converting oxygen to energy was simply a lot better than mine.

    My realization out of that was I could not get to the upper levels of competition as other athletes with better engines all other factors being equal would beat me.

    Then I switch to DH which didn't need the VO2 max engine. Most of the dh racing is in the anaerobic zone. I was better at DH. I got closer to the top of national racing, topping out at 3rd nationally in my division. However no matter how hard I smacked burms and blazed down the hill there were dude blazing faster times than me.
    I did this DH race that was 6 dudes at a time racing down at the same time. I was behind a pro rider on an easy bit of track pedalling as hard out as I could and he was just pulling away from me! It was like a V8 racing a 4cylinder. He had more power.......

    So, my body type wasnt suited to dh either.

    The morel of the story is that some people are genetically more suited to mtb than other. All other factors being even the genetically superior individual will be faster.

  28. #28
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    One thing that interests me about the wildly different speeds of mountain bikers is how there seems to be little or no correlation between the style or quality of bike and the riders speed up or down. When I visit a popular riding spot like Rotorua on my own I'll try get talking to people and tag along with others who know the network better as it often leads to discovering new trails. Last time I saw someone loading a well spec'd carbon enduro bike on the trailer and got yarning to them on the shuttle bus up, made a little bet with myself that the guy was either going to be an absolute ripper and would leave me for dead, or a total rookie with too much cash. Sure enough, it was the latter and I made a polite excuse to take a different route mid-trail rather than crawl behind him to the end. I've struggled to keep up on descents with someone riding a Top Fuel with no dropper, I've struggled to keep up with people riding beaten 8-year-old bikes, and of course I've seen people riding nice-car-priced bikes who were slower than a wet week.

    Fast riders who are adapted to whatever bike they chose are fast, regardless of what the internet says they should be riding.

  29. #29
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    Quote Originally Posted by walkerwalker View Post
    I think some of the slower people are folks who don't understand that mtb requires certain skills and physical fitness. They think it's just a bike,
    And then there are also a lot of us that know what it takes to go fast, but simply don't GAF. Because it IS just a bike.

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  30. #30
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    This whole topic makes me laugh. Not that it's a laughable topic - it's just that my own speed is wildly different, day to day.

    AND it all depends on which group one is riding with.

    Examples:
    Vision. My eyes are getting worse. On days when my eyes are clear, and I can see better, I am faster.
    Fitness. I have no regimen. I ride when I can, and as hard as I feel like at the moment (I know I can go at ~180bpm for almost 75 minutes - no idea what kind of power that equates to, but not a lot). This is very erratic from a fitness perspective.
    Technique. My technique is generally good on most terrain, but as ride frequency is random, I am seldom "dialed" or really sharp. I get lucky sometimes, though, and ride exceedingly smooth. At those times, I am very efficient and much faster for the required effort.
    Nutrition. Sometimes I care. Sometimes I don't. Yesterday I watched football, ate pork sliders and chips, and drank a bunch of Imperial IPA before I finally went for a ride. Result? Slowness, at a profound level.

    Then you get to my riding buddies. I know about 4 people who ride like me - enjoy same trails/terrain, similar speed, similar style. If anyone else joins, we tend to ride farther apart so the ebb and flow of the group doesn't interrupt our flow/mojo. Most of those folks don't ride in any aggressive manner at all - more like hiking on a bike. Totally diff. style. And don't appreciate a friendly tire buzz or a chase at all.

    Mix all those variables and I could find myself anywhere from the front of the pack to off-the-back, just riding with people I know! Mix in "the new guy" and "Joe's buddy", or a new trail, and you never know where you'll fall in line.

    -F

    PS - example 2: a female rider I just met can outpedal me on just about everything, but she's not as experienced off-road so I can make time through corners and tech. Very fun to ride with since she learns something new every time. Her confidence, though, needs a shot. I don't see any lack of potential.
    It's never easier - you just go faster.

  31. #31
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    Quote Originally Posted by LMN View Post
    ...

    They are getting close:
    https://www.instagram.com/p/CBhN7zcAy0O/
    That kid looked smooth!

    -F
    It's never easier - you just go faster.

  32. #32
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    I ride fast with the fast guys(or try to) and slow with the slow guys. I don't care as long as I am riding.

    Rode Sat with my riding buddy and he was in a hurry as he had a time commitment and about killed me. I kept up, and had two miles under my belt before he got there but got a good workout. Averaged almost 10mph and I could barely keep up. Went out separately yesterday and rode. I compared Strava times and we were within seconds on most of the common trails we rode. Neither were slow either. Most segments we were in the top couple of riders for the day. We tied for #1 on one segment with 22 riders....downhill of course, but tight twisty corners and does require a lot of pedaling, so we are not slow most of the time

    Well matched I guess. He is a better climber and I carry more speed going down.

    I ride with a midweek group and they are pretty fast, most of them being racers. I just try and hang on. That said, I am just as happy riding with any slower folks that show up too. I can work on the tech stuff and finding alternate lines.

    I just like to ride.

  33. #33
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    Ages in our group of 10+ guys range from mid-40s to mid-50s with one guy who is 66.

    There's a handful of guys in our group who are completely obsessed with speed. Every second on every trail it's balls out, and if the trail "doesn't flow" they're complaining about it. This usually leaves a huge time gap between them and the slowest guy (our 66 year old). We're getting to the point where people are constantly getting separated from the group, calling each other on the trail, getting aggravated. Since I'm the navigator, I'm going to keep planning rides that the fast guys hate so they go somewhere else!
    AreBee

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    I ride fast with asthma.

  35. #35
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    What I like about MTB is that there are many different ways to be fast. Some are good at climbs, some at wide open DH bombing, some at technical DH, some on flat terrain, some on rolling terrain, some in twisty terrain some in rock-garden stuff.

    What I find is that over the course of the ride I may be relatively strong in one area and relatively weak in another compared to the folks I am riding with.

    I do know that my strengths are more technical riding that happens at lower speeds. Wide open bombing is just not my cup of tea. I used to be relatively weak in cornering, but that has changed over the past few years.
    15mm is a second-best solution to a problem that was already solved.

  36. #36
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    Quote Originally Posted by BushwackerinPA View Post
    eh bike setup and knowing how to optimize equipment can have huge affect on how fast you can ride, especially in certain circumstances.

    There is a DH at my local trails that I dropped 1:03 to :43 second just by going from a 125mm dropper to a 180mm dropper. I actually put the 125mm dropper back on to see if it was fluke and after three attempts I was in the 1:05-1:10 range.
    yes, you improved more by a simple relatively low cost change because your bike wasn't setup properly. fit issues help.

    also, this thread is general population, eg OP's POST. anyone who races and competes tend to be in the top 5%, even people who bother to turn strava.

    huge difference in effort and time in saddle in the general pop, therefor huge difference in skill.

  37. #37
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    Quote Originally Posted by bob13bob View Post
    also, this thread is general population, eg OP's POST. anyone who races and competes tend to be in the top 5%, even people who bother to turn strava.
    What is amazing is difference between the 95% and the 100%. Most people vastly under estimate just how good best are. Take your fastest local rider and they are probably 25 to 30% off the speed of the best in the world.

    The example I always give is running. A sub 3hr marathon runner by local standards is really good. But they are almost an hour off of world record pace.

    That same gap is true in mountain biking. You take the best descender in this forum and they are losing a minute for every 5 minutes of descending to best. And the quickest XC racer is losing 5 minutes for every 15 minutes of racing.
    "The best pace is suicide pace, and today is a good day to die." Steve Prefontaine

  38. #38
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    Quote Originally Posted by Arebee View Post
    Ages in our group of 10+ guys range from mid-40s to mid-50s with one guy who is 66.

    There's a handful of guys in our group who are completely obsessed with speed. Every second on every trail it's balls out, and if the trail "doesn't flow" they're complaining about it. This usually leaves a huge time gap between them and the slowest guy (our 66 year old). We're getting to the point where people are constantly getting separated from the group, calling each other on the trail, getting aggravated. Since I'm the navigator, I'm going to keep planning rides that the fast guys hate so they go somewhere else!
    We have a bloke in our group that owns a house in Moab, He's in his 70's and rides like a 20 year old! Getting dusted by a bloke old as dirt is an honor... If I make it to that age, I hope I'm riding like he does.
    If nothing else, I'll gladly leave tire marks on the walls in the old fart's home...
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    What is amazing is difference between the 95% and the 100%.
    It is so fun to ride or watch the local riders shred on the trails or jumps, but it is mind blowing getting to watch pros in person do their thing.

    Golf related, I got to stand on the tee and watch Tiger Woods tee off on the 18th hole of his practice round at the US Open in 2003. He took a massive swing, it sounded like the earth was splitting in half when he hit the ball, and his shot was in the air for minutes it seemed before it landed super far away and right in the middle of the fairway. I had the pleasure of seeing Bubba Watson do the same thing at a Ryder Cup practice round in 2012. I have played with some good golfers, and am an upper-middle slouch myself, but what these guys can do is other worldly.

    When I get to ride with the fast folks, for the 30 seconds I can still see them there is so much to learn. I will never be even regular fast but watching, learning, or at a minimum just trying to chase faster rides makes me faster than the last me, and that is the only race I am running.

  40. #40
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    Quote Originally Posted by LMN View Post
    What is amazing is difference between the 95% and the 100%. Most people vastly under estimate just how good best are. Take your fastest local rider and they are probably 25 to 30% off the speed of the best in the world.
    This. The tails on the bell curve are very wide/fat. The people at the margins are silly good. This appears to apply to just about everything, though it's very noticeable in fitness sports that are time based.

    It's so much harder to put together a coherent MTB group ride when compared to the road. No drafting, tech skills often required.

  41. #41
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    Quote Originally Posted by LMN View Post
    davec113

    I have almost the opposite experience.

    I run a high school MTB team. I remember early on going to do some cornering drills and watching the kids go through the corners and thinking well "it looks like we need to work on fitness".

    We ended up going to the Matt Hunter corner and trying to replicate it.
    Click image for larger version. 

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    They are getting close:
    https://www.instagram.com/p/CBhN7zcAy0O/
    Nice! Dude has good technique!

    Kids can learn good technique from the start if they're exposed to moto, bmx, or other mtb'ers who have skills. I'm talking about young kids with none of that experience. There were maybe 15-20 kids probably all under 10 years old just learning how to ride. Without exception, they leaned with the bike, remaining centered over it with no bike/body separation whatsoever. So I still maintain proper cornering skills are learned and for a vast majority of riders, are not intuitive.

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    I ride with people ranging in age from 9years old to over 60 years old. Some are faster than me and some are slower. We know each other's skills well enough that we can order ourselves pretty well according to our speed so we don't get jammed up on the trail. Interestingly, the order is different depending on which trail we are riding and how people are feeling on the day. Some riders are always faster on flow trails, some faster on jump lines, and some are the fastest on tech. The top 2-3 riders in the group are fastest at everything!

  43. #43
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    I ride with someone who is SO SLOW on the downhill sections, doesn't do jumps at all and isn't that good in technical sections either.
    I've had a quiet word with him many times. He knows he's slow and would like to go faster, but seems to be having fun.

    He still finishes in the top 3rd of the field in races and podiums in his class.
    The top riders in the class are almost lapping him and the top riders in the race are lapping him several times. When we get a nationally ranked rider visiting, the speed difference again is amazing.

    And the pro's? How come they don't have to obey the rules of physics like us mortals?

  44. #44
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    Quote Originally Posted by LMN View Post
    What is amazing is difference between the 95% and the 100%. Most people vastly under estimate just how good best are. Take your fastest local rider and they are probably 25 to 30% off the speed of the best in the world.
    Iíve experienced this with surfing. I used to be a pretty decent surfer; never pro level, though.

    Then there were guys I knew who were way above my level; levels of skill and fitness that I could never reach. But then there were the world-class pros, whose speed and power In real life was just mind-boggling.


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  45. #45
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    Quote Originally Posted by BansheeRune View Post
    We have a bloke in our group that owns a house in Moab, He's in his 70's and rides like a 20 year old! Getting dusted by a bloke old as dirt is an honor... If I make it to that age, I hope I'm riding like he does.
    If nothing else, I'll gladly leave tire marks on the walls in the old fart's home...
    A friend with a house in Moab is a good friend to have! I hope I'm still breathing in my 70's never mind riding!

    There is a local legend here in central Connecticut who rode into his mid 80s. For his 80th birthday he traded in his full squish for a carbon single speed! He was often seen riding with his daughter who was in her 50s.
    AreBee

  46. #46
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    My strava times lead me to think I have potential. On my local trails, I have 3 number 2 spots and top ten spots on most of the sections, but my overall lap times suck. I know my strengths are general fitness, short bursts of power, getting to the top of climbs, and straights. Riding with the faster guys it's clear I suck in the curves and the twists, so I paid for a two day skills clinic. As others have said, I figured it's a lifetime of doing things wrong that's holding me back and I wanted someone to really point it out.

    It was pretty clear after the clinic I probably don't have the potential I thought I did. I'm making up for poor technique with sheer power where I can, but you can't keep making that trade forever. Now I know what I'm doing wrong I can take steps to fix it, but it will be a very long process, if I'm able to fix it at all, since I've been doing it wrong for 20-25 years.

    It opened my eyes to what others have already said about keeping speed through curves and corners... You need some coaching on that if you're like most people and you want to be fast. The way I see it there is a small percentage of people that just have a natural understanding of how to talk to the bike and make it do what it does. Other people have to work at it.

  47. #47
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    Quote Originally Posted by KobayashiMaru View Post
    My strava times lead me to think I have potential. On my local trails, I have 3 number 2 spots and top ten spots on most of the sections, but my overall lap times suck. I know my strengths are general fitness, short bursts of power, getting to the top of climbs, and straights. Riding with the faster guys it's clear I suck in the curves and the twists, so I paid for a two day skills clinic. As others have said, I figured it's a lifetime of doing things wrong that's holding me back and I wanted someone to really point it out.

    It was pretty clear after the clinic I probably don't have the potential I thought I did. I'm making up for poor technique with sheer power where I can, but you can't keep making that trade forever. Now I know what I'm doing wrong I can take steps to fix it, but it will be a very long process, if I'm able to fix it at all, since I've been doing it wrong for 20-25 years.

    It opened my eyes to what others have already said about keeping speed through curves and corners... You need some coaching on that if you're like most people and you want to be fast. The way I see it there is a small percentage of people that just have a natural understanding of how to talk to the bike and make it do what it does. Other people have to work at it.
    Mostly, I let my bike show me a good time. Cornering... There are many different approaches. On some of my favorite haunts, I actually increase speed moderately going in. In the apex, I have already chosen a taller gear to pull against and open the 4BBL. I have spent a great deal of time working on weight placement as well as body english application. It is an ongoing practice thing that is a pleasure to be engrossed in.

    On a trail you know intimately, you can work on cornering skills and speeds. Keeping a given speed can be beneficial. It does take getting accustomed to it early on but will become instinct later in your practice. There is everything to gain from a skills clinic and little to nothing to lose. Do you suck? Not likely, just need to get it sorted and into application... You got this!
    Get fAt, Stay fAt, Ride fAt
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  48. #48
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    Good solid chat team with many good points of view.

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    World class is a whole different level. They have next level skills and abilities, and also commitment to hone those.
    Back in my trials day, our local trials legend was pretty damn good in our group, but then he took a couple months off and went as a walk on invitee with the USA Team to some competitions in Europe. He said it was amazing and a whole nother level.

  50. #50
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    Quote Originally Posted by Taroroot View Post
    World class is a whole different level. They have next level skills and abilities, and also commitment to hone those.
    Back in my trials day, our local trials legend was pretty damn good in our group, but then he took a couple months off and went as a walk on invitee with the USA Team to some competitions in Europe. He said it was amazing and a whole nother level.
    GMBN did a video with Neil and Blake joining Nino Schurter for a workout and the sort of stuff he's doing is unfathomable. During his recovery sessions he's juggling whilst standing on a balance board to hone fine motor skill, coordination and core strength, to give him that extra edge...

  51. #51
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    Quote Originally Posted by chiefsilverback View Post
    GMBN did a video with Neil and Blake joining Nino Schurter for a workout and the sort of stuff he's doing is unfathomable. During his recovery sessions he's juggling whilst standing on a balance board to hone fine motor skill, coordination and core strength, to give him that extra edge...
    Heís crazy fit, but Iím old and fat and I can juggle whilst standing on a balance board. One exercise I need to do more often is pushing myself away from the dinner table.


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  52. #52
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    The wildly different speeds of mountain bikers.

    The technical trail I once averaged 8 mph on in Ď15, I can average 14+, with it pinned. So I remember being at both ends of the spectrum.

    It takes
    Power
    Risk Acceptance
    Skills
    Desire to go fast
    Equipment


    Power can bandaid a lot. I once didnít have any, so I had to develop skills to close that gap racing against powerful riders. Some people who have powerful watts (experiences road racers getting in an MTB) just donít develop the skills because they donít need to and get by with watts.

    The better your skills are the worse your equipment can get and you can stay fast. I.e racing on Semi slicks is a recipe for disaster for most.

    And then some people just have no desire to go fast, whether itís feel pain, or taking risk, and the impending injury. THATS OK.

    I should not criticize a weekend warrior for enjoying themselves on a 6mph average weekend ride. And they shouldnít criticize me for riding at speeds )in a controlled manner) they canít even imagine.

    Speaking of next level...Witnessing World championship DH in person is a unreal. Even In that field, the top guys are so much faster than the back/mid pack of competitors there. And everyone in qualifying is faster than all of us here (today).


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  53. #53
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    I mostly just ride solo, road and MTB. I don't always ride the same speeds as myself. SOmetimes I want to go fast, sometimes I don't. Sometimes I want to session, sometimes I don't. Riding by committee isn't fun for me.

    Just rode with my old group for the first time this year last Thursday. I only did because one of them just did CPR on one of his best friends for 30 minutes, and he didn't pull through. I just wanted to be there for him for the night. THe ride wasn't really fun at all, but that's not what it was about that night.
    Last edited by Sidewalk; 4 Weeks Ago at 09:55 AM.

  54. #54
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    Quote Originally Posted by Taroroot View Post
    World class is a whole different level. They have next level skills and abilities, and also commitment to hone those.
    Back in my trials day, our local trials legend was pretty damn good in our group, but then he took a couple months off and went as a walk on invitee with the USA Team to some competitions in Europe. He said it was amazing and a whole nother level.
    What blows mind is the bloke that is a natural... They just pick up the deed and run with it, while I hafta work on it extensively im many cases. I have known a few of them that didn't go to the big time because they didn't desire the commitment at that level. I don't blame them in a way.

    Quote Originally Posted by celswick View Post
    Heís crazy fit, but Iím old and fat and I can juggle whilst standing on a balance board. One exercise I need to do more often is pushing myself away from the dinner table.


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    I tried that and determined it was a wives tale...

    Quote Originally Posted by Sidewalk View Post
    I mostly just ride solo, rode and MTB. I don't always ride the same speeds as myself. SOmetimes I want to go fast, sometimes I don't. Sometimes I want to session, sometimes I don't. Riding by committee isn't fun for me.

    Just rode with my old group for the first time this year last Thursday. I only did because one of them just did CPR on one of his best friends for 30 minutes, and he didn't pull through. I just wanted to be there for him for the night. THe ride wasn't really fun at all, but that's not what it was about that night.
    Damn, Sidewalk, that's some heavy stuff. Good on ya for your support...
    Get fAt, Stay fAt, Ride fAt
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  55. #55
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    One thing I didn't see anyone mention as a key contributor to speed on the MTB -- especially in the techy spots, but even in "regular spots" -- is the mental factor. So much of MTB is mental. Some that I ride with have a self-fulfilling prophecy thing going on. "I can't clean that section." "That part is scary so I'll unclip and walk." "Those guys are all faster than me so I'll just get frustrated and ratchet down my speed." If you don't ever try and don't ever push yourself, well, it is what it is.

    Not saying that everyone has to give a sh!t about going fast. Smile miles are most important. But if folks are getting frustrated, this is a component to consider.

  56. #56
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    Oh yeah a huge part of it is mental. HUGE.

    I've done my own research into this before to see how I can improve.

    There's a several mental attributes that need to come together to create speed.

    1) Motor skills and spatial ability. The ability to train your brain to operate a very high level of motor skill function and precision. Danny MacAskill is an extreme example of this.

    2) Fear control and risk assessment. This is key to speed. Particularly for dh speed.
    To be able to push the demons back and make an actual rigorous risk assessment and then punch that line, or practice that next level skill that you may have considered too risky or un-achievable. . I enjoy the tool lyrics "I've been wollowing in my own chaotic insecure delusions". Most of the time the limitation is in own own head. Not an actual physical limitation.

    We can also perceive risk incorrectly. What is the actual risk V the percieved risk

    In mtb the safest line is often the line that appears more risky. But once committed to makes the track so much smoother and more controllable. Getting the wheels of the ground and clearing a rough section is a good example of this. The risk adverse perceives the jump as risky and bounces through the rough section with more actual risk than the guy the pops off the first root and clears the lot smoothly.

    3) Drive to continuously improve. This is also critical. We all have a glass ceiling that we wont push past. The very fast will doggedly push and push and push to be better an better and better. Their ceiling is well about the rest of us.

    4) Ability to handle pain and push past physical discomfort. Again the pro's will push their bodies literally until they shut down. I am constantly surprised at what my body can handle.


    Add all these factors into one personal and you have one fast mofo.

  57. #57
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    Good post!

    A lot of folks have no desire to improve any further. Some won't upgrade equipment OR try to improve technique because they are scared of going faster.

    It does take the brain a while to develop the ability to process info quick enough as speeds increase. This comes with time and experience. I've been improving my technique lately and it can be mentally taxing and scary to process everything! I surprise myself sometimes...

    I think risk assessment is often hard to judge because of fear and trauma. Overcoming these false biases and traumas is a spiritual aspect of mt biking, imo. Letting go of trauma requires the ego to surrender some of it's perceived importance, and for you to surrender some of the control you thought you had. The result is seeing both your riding and your life in a different manner, one that is more spiritually advanced and aligned closer with reality. It also allows you to open up to life and accept risk in other aspects of your life... relationships, business, etc. Overcoming trauma is the same no matter the cause, and the result is a better life and better, safer riding. A very interesting paradox!

    Same with the ability to handle pain, like handling trauma there's a spiritual aspect to it.

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    The wildly different speeds of mountain bikers.

    I stated Risk Acceptance, vs assessment. This plays out the same.


    This is also ever changing. One bad washout in a race will adjust your entire risk for a while if not the entire race/ride. A loose corner establishes your baseline for much of a ride unless your brain has more data to know that ďthis corner is always loose, itís ok to stay in it.Ē Vs. ďthese tires suck I better back off todayĒ we are all guilty.

    Most people would be pretty fast if they didnít brake much. Issue is are the willing or capable to do this.

    Also, many people are interested in upgrading parts and not going faster


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  59. #59
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    Quote Originally Posted by davec113 View Post
    I think risk assessment is often hard to judge because of fear and trauma. Overcoming these false biases and traumas is a spiritual aspect of mt biking, imo. Letting go of trauma requires the ego to surrender some of it's perceived importance, and for you to surrender some of the control you thought you had. The result is seeing both your riding and your life in a different manner, one that is more spiritually advanced and aligned closer with reality. It also allows you to open up to life and accept risk in other aspects of your life... relationships, business, etc. Overcoming trauma is the same no matter the cause, and the result is a better life and better, safer riding. A very interesting paradox!

    Same with the ability to handle pain, like handling trauma there's a spiritual aspect to it.
    Deep!

  60. #60
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    Quite possibly my favorite thread so far on MTBR!

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    I am not that fast, mid-pack at best, but my goal recently had been to learn to brake less. Railing through corners and pumping the downsides without touching the brakes is much faster, and feels amazing. I ride with a guy who is much stronger than me, and I am often faster than him now just by focusing on braking less. A big part of my success is going to 29 inch wheels and longer geometry. Seems to let me carry speed better while still feeling in control.

  62. #62
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    Yes braking less seems like an obvious thing to do to go fast. However the brain says brake for this corner and fingers get applied to the levers.

    I too work on no braking techniques. Often times not braking is faster and holds way more traction and can be ultimately safer. Its one of the counter-intuitive aspects of mtb.

    But not braking in its self might not work. You usually need to adjust your line to hold that extra speed. Tire pressure might need to optimized for the track so you hold that line rather than start drifting.

    Also looking at braking points is also key. Like brake before the corner, no brakes through the corner. Yet I find myself auto dragging a brake through the corner. Rear wheel starts to sledge, I think "WTF and I doing" and let go of the brake and viola traction and speed.

    Next corner.... the evil auto finger starts applying the brake again. So I have an internal mental battle with my own chaotic insecure delusions that my subconscious monkey mind has about braking application.

  63. #63
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    Once upon a time, I lapped the same group of people not once but twice on Hymasa-Ahab. They were pushing bikes up the climb the first time (!) then I caught them towards the bottom the second time.

    When I looked at the data (Strava Fly-By), I was surprised to see they didnít take any detours. They just rode really slowly. My wife hiked it faster than they rode.


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  64. #64
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    Quote Originally Posted by LMN View Post
    davec113

    I have almost the opposite experience.

    I run a high school MTB team. I remember early on going to do some cornering drills and watching the kids go through the corners and thinking well "it looks like we need to work on fitness".

    We ended up going to the Matt Hunter corner and trying to replicate it.


    They are getting close:
    https://www.instagram.com/p/CBhN7zcAy0O/
    no disrespect to your dude, because that is a clean turn in and of itself. but that really isn't that close at all. being that horizontal with your body inline is some next level wizardry...


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    Itís simple, ride with all fingers wrapped around the bar. But start slow, not on a DH.

    This helps prevent subconscious braking and you will be amazed with the outcome.


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