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  1. #1
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    The Fast Guys Caught Me

    At least I'm calling them "fast".
    They were def. full-time racer guys.

    But it gave me a little perspective: "Fast" doesn't mean the physiological limit of pedal power. It means physics simply won't allow a person on a bike to change direction any faster. It is the limit of speed at which the rider can still remain on the trail.

    I can do that, usually with a little gravity assist, in short bursts. I had been riding pretty fast and hard and was feeling pretty good about my pace and my cornering. Since I was alone I was being at least a little cautious. Then I saw these guys coming through the forest several turns back. I sped up to see how fast they were going compared to my best.

    These guys were riding like they were going downhill at all times - even when they were going uphill.

    I got to ride "with" them for about 40 seconds. They were obviously riding at least 1 gear higher than I was, and they were taking every turn like it was the last turn they'd ever take - hard! That speed felt super intense, esp. in the section where I was hanging onto the last guy in line. It was a next level feeling.

    It used to be that a lot of racers were just high-powered pedalers with limited off-road skilz. These guys were the complete package and it was fun to watch them ride - even if it was only for a short time.

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

  2. #2
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    I thought you said the fat guys caught me, which quite frankly would have made for a much more interesting thread.

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mr Pig View Post
    I thought you said the fat guys caught me, which quite frankly would have made for a much more interesting thread.
    Now THAT'S funny!
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mr Pig View Post
    I thought you said the fat guys caught me, which quite frankly would have made for a much more interesting thread.
    Not necessarily. I have bunch of fat guys (most of are on e-bike) caught me all the times.

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by Fleas View Post
    It used to be that a lot of racers were just high-powered pedalers with limited off-road skilz. These guys were the complete package and it was fun to watch them ride - even if it was only for a short time.

    -F
    I miss that "next level feeling"!
    For years it was my experience if I was passed in a straight heading into some corners, I would get held-up in those turns. Now it seems the kids are a lot faster everywhere. I haven't slowed down, I may be older but I ride better bikes now...
    oops I wasn't clipped in

  6. #6
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    You can get that next level experience again by lowering your standards and picking slower friends!

  7. #7
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    I thought I was fast when I moved from dirtbikes to mountain bikes, but I was humbled when I rode with people who were on their bikes weekly.

    I thought I was fast when started to ride weekly and was fairly fast locally on strava, but was humbled when I entered my first race.

    I thought I was getting fast after I got a few cat 3 podiums and local KOMs, but was humbled when a 50+ guy stole all my KOMs

    I thought I was getting fast after moving up to cat 2 / open SS, but was humbled at the national marathon championship.

    You could probably take your local fast guy, put him on an ebike, and the pros would still drop him. It's incredible how fast the Pros are, and even crazier to think that overall the US pros aren't that fast.

    After seeing the guys at the championship, I'm fairly confident that I'll never have to worry about feeling fast again.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by jim c View Post
    I miss that "next level feeling"!
    For years it was my experience if I was passed in a straight heading into some corners, I would get held-up in those turns.
    +1!

    Quote Originally Posted by jim c View Post
    Now it seems the kids are a lot faster everywhere....
    I am happy/proud to say that these guys were not kids. They might've been one age division younger than me. But they ride a LOT, and evidently, they ride hard!

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

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by Fleas View Post
    It used to be that a lot of racers were just high-powered pedalers with limited off-road skilz.:F
    LOL! This must have been before my time.

    I directed one of the races, that is part of the state series, for five years. There was always a few that had never raced, but thought they were fast and wanted to sign up for CAT 2. Usually was no convincing them otherwise.

  10. #10
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    Everyone's faster than me. I'm always DFL.
    I wouldn't **** you, you're my favorite turd.

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by jim c View Post
    Now it seems the kids are a lot faster everywhere.
    My experience is that age has nothing to do with how fast someone is.

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by richwolf View Post
    You can get that next level experience again by lowering your standards and picking slower friends!
    Or by strapping a pork chop to your back and riding through bear / wolf country.
    Beware the old man in a profession where men die young.

  13. #13
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    The margin of error when riding fast is too much for me. After being sidelined for almost a year and paying $136K+ in medical bills, I really don't see the point of going at race pace unless you've got a number pinned to your jersey or bike; and are on a closed course.

    Risk and reward.

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by bingemtbr View Post
    The margin of error when riding fast is too much for me. After being sidelined for almost a year and paying $136K+ in medical bills, I really don't see the point of going at race pace unless you've got a number pinned to your jersey or bike; and are on a closed course.

    Risk and reward.

    I understand that sentiment but for me part of the fun is trying to discover my limits and then trying to reset them. As dumb as that is it's a motivator and helps to keep me active. I go for more climbs than descents these days because of the risk factor but going down is more fun so it's hard for me to hold back.

    As for the op, IME the really fast guys are also usually great bike handlers and make good line choices, that's part of the reason they're fast.
    I brake for stinkbugs

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by bingemtbr View Post
    The margin of error when riding fast is too much for me. ....
    I, too, used to throw caution to the wind - and I was competitively fast, at least descending. Riding that fast even for a short time sorta "reset my limits" as described below. Like, maybe I felt like I was riding at 90%, but maybe it was really more like 75%. So maybe I should be riding with a little more intent.

    Quote Originally Posted by J.B. Weld View Post
    I understand that sentiment but for me part of the fun is trying to discover my limits and then trying to reset them. As dumb as that is it's a motivator and helps to keep me active. I go for more climbs than descents these days because of the risk factor but going down is more fun so it's hard for me to hold back.

    As for the op, IME the really fast guys are also usually great bike handlers and make good line choices, that's part of the reason they're fast.
    The level of the upper echelon riders is pretty high these days - and I know it's not the bikes. Maybe they are not better than the best riders of the past, but it seems maybe there are a lot more of them.

    Alas, I think I am confined to the mortal world of biking.

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

  16. #16
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    There is always another level of fast. I back myself as being a reasonably fast dude locally, able to dice it with the xc guys on the up and the dh guys in the down. I'm currently enjoying and all time best combination of fitness, light weight, mental toughness, technical and crazy line hitting ability combined with an awesome bike combo that Fits me like a glove. Having great fun attacking the trail both up and down for hours without fatigue. It's great fun! I don't have fear or doubts in my mind, I know I have the ability to take only everything that the trail has to offer. I'd like to hold this level as long as I can.

    That said. I'm not a pro racer. I'm an old dude that used to race years ago. I would have my arse handed to me on a plate if I tried to keep up with the elite guys. Until you are the best in the world there will always be someone better than you.

  17. #17
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    My riding has definitely progressed since I started trying to catch a much faster racing buddy. I'm humbled when we compare times on the same trail, but at the same time, it's a good way for me to set new goals and push my riding. We stop sometimes to discuss lines, and we'll session an obstacle, and he's really encouraging.

    Then, we'll make our way to the top again, and when we arrive, he'll say to me, "try and keep up this time!" We count down, 3, 2, 1... my foot leaves the ground, and clicks into my pedal. He already begins to pull away, but I can still see him. A few flowy turns, and a log over later, I can see him around the next turn. I tuck and the trees alongside the trail blur into motion, but I can still.... nope, can't see him anymore. Yup. He's gone.
    The cake is a lie.

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by kubikeman View Post
    My riding has definitely progressed since I started trying to catch a much faster racing buddy. I'm humbled when we compare times on the same trail, but at the same time, it's a good way for me to set new goals and push my riding. We stop sometimes to discuss lines, and we'll session an obstacle, and he's really encouraging.

    Then, we'll make our way to the top again, and when we arrive, he'll say to me, "try and keep up this time!" We count down, 3, 2, 1... my foot leaves the ground, and clicks into my pedal. He already begins to pull away, but I can still see him. A few flowy turns, and a log over later, I can see him around the next turn. I tuck and the trees alongside the trail blur into motion, but I can still.... nope, can't see him anymore. Yup. He's gone.
    Used to ride with several buddies who were of equal ability - but they each had their specialty. But riding with those guys taught me my weakness and vice-versa.
    We all agreed, years later, that none of us wanted to hold the others up so we (whoever was in front) always rode way over our own head. The speeds were video game fast... the crashes spectacular.
    And now that I think of it, we always used to subtly taunt eachother by saying "I wasn't holding you up was I?" ...knowing darn well that none of us could ride any faster. It mostly came down to not making any mistakes, or at least heroically saving the ones we did make. Of course, if you made a bad mistake at the front, it was often a complete trainwreck.

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

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by J.B. Weld View Post
    As for the op, IME the really fast guys are also usually great bike handlers and make good line choices, that's part of the reason they're fast.
    Yup. Line picking -- arguably mountain biking's most important skill.
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  20. #20
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    I don't enter races. I ride just to ride. Sometimes I will kill a section of trail, a 'segment' on Strava, and look at my times compared to others. Invariably some dude has made my time look weak. Even on the ones where I'm top 10, the KOM is unfathomable to me. But I'm 44 y.o. and my riding now is something I could not have imagined 10 years ago. I'm much better and faster now and I haven't ridden for the purpose of getting faster. That is really cool.
    Western Montana

  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by coke View Post
    I thought I was getting fast after I got a few cat 3 podiums and local KOMs, but was humbled when a 50+ guy stole all my KOMs
    Tinker, John, or Ned would probably still kick all our azzes riding on a shopping bike.
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  22. #22
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    About a year after I started trail riding regularly, I thought I was a physically fit but technically mediocre rider. One day I was having a phone call on the side of the hill and I spotted a dude on the trails going at a huge pace. This guy was FLYING, way faster than I'd seen anyone else go. It was amazing to watch. So I ended the call and hopped on the trail to see if I could catch him.

    It didn't take me long to catch him, and the funny part was that we were fairly equal in the straights but I was just running him over in the technical parts. And as fast as he was going, I was in fact quite a bit faster. So that was pretty cool.

    I'm still not racing, however. I don't see the point in driving x miles and paying $50 when I can ride for free ten minutes from my house.

  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by Schulze View Post
    I'm still not racing, however. I don't see the point in driving x miles and paying $50 when I can ride for free ten minutes from my house.
    No doubt you're right, but... As a long-retired racer (it's been 16yrs since my last real race entry) I have to say racing is fun and when you try it most will find its charm. I have entered some charity/fundraiser in the last 5 years. The one big attraction for me is competive. I like to see how I stack-up to those I ride with, even though I havent been on the podium since I gave up training and those $50 entries, it's still a lot of fun to see how far down the list my name shows up. 16yrs ago I wasn't satisfied unless I was top 3. As an old guy I get a kick out of the top 50%. ha
    2nd may be the first loser, but the fun and rapport at a race is special.
    oops I wasn't clipped in

  24. #24
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    Well I am competitive and I used to race when I was a junior. I went to a local race and did a pre ride but the course itself was so un-fun I just socialized a bit then went home.

    Another factor is that unless I put in 2-3 hours on the mountain bike (regardless of intensity), I do not feel satisfied. So if there is a 1 hour race then I will definitely not feel good afterward.

    So I think I just talked myself into one of those endurance events....

  25. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by Schulze View Post
    ...

    I'm still not racing, however. I don't see the point in driving x miles and paying $50 when I can ride for free ten minutes from my house.
    I understand what you are saying but racing is the best way to see what you are made of. Something about lining up and knowing that everyone there with you is prepared and ready to beat you and you them. It tends to bring out the best.

  26. #26
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    I used to be super competitive, but I just don't have that anymore. I have a little bit of competitiveness, but it definitely doesn't override my sense of self-preservation anymore.

    I'm usually a mid-pack rider overall, a little slower on the climbs and a little faster on the descents. Though since I've moved to Pisgah, I see that my status in that regard is a bit lower. Especially on the climbs. So many locals here are incredible climbers. It also seems like most of the people who are faster than me on the downhills are absolutely fearless. I certainly have room to go faster without exceeding my sense of preservation (a bike better suited for fast, chunky downhills would help), but there are a lot of riders here who are next level fearless on downhills, with it being the sort of destination that attracts those folks.

    With all that said, it's a really incredible feeling to get just the right combination of fitness, good dirt, great weather, motivation, and competitive pressure to ride a section of trail way above the level you usually ride it. Even if it's just a short bit.

  27. #27
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    Quote Originally Posted by Brodino View Post
    I understand what you are saying but racing is the best way to see what you are made of. Something about lining up and knowing that everyone there with you is prepared and ready to beat you and you them. It tends to bring out the best.
    Nah, that's not really the case for me. I'm sure my relatively low level of competitiveness has a lot to do with that. For me, the greatest satisfaction in riding is almost entirely internal. I can be DFL in a group, completely out of sight of the rider ahead of me, and still have the best ride of my life because I found the "flow" of the trail better than I ever have before.

  28. #28
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    Quote Originally Posted by Harold View Post
    ...
    With all that said, it's a really incredible feeling to get just the right combination of fitness, good dirt, great weather, motivation, and competitive pressure to ride a section of trail way above the level you usually ride it. Even if it's just a short bit.
    Excellent summation!

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

  29. #29
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    I think every person has that list of things that makes them happy or motivates them. I don't race, and I'm not very motivated by racing in general. Both my kids race and my wife wants to try it. I'll probably enter a few with her. There will be riders at the races that will destroy me even though I can't remember the last time I got passed when I could set my own pace on a recreational ride.

    But I do really enjoy being the "fast guy" on the trail that catches other riders. I don't go and seek it out, but it just happens sometimes. I find the riders that I catch that speed up in front of me to see what I'm made of are even more fun. Part of it is just the irony of it. I wear baggy clothes, no gloves, I have more grey hair than not. I ride a fat bike or a plus bike with flat pedals. I have a sweaty beard. I'm usually red faced and sweaty and pretty short compared to most bike riders. Most riders that see me either assume I'm about to die, or that I can only hold my pace for another 60 seconds before I puke.

    With that said the ability to rip down the trail for 1 minute to catch and pass a rider I have caught is a different story than maintaining that pace for an hour or two. And that is a different thing entirely than riders that can set a fast pace for 3 or 4 or 10 hours. Everyone doesn't have the same goals, or the same conditioning. I know a few guys where everything they ride has to be epic. 50 miles, 70 miles, 100 miles. That would destroy me. I can ride with any of them on a hour loop, but I'm not very motivated to up the time and mileage that much.

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    Quote Originally Posted by adaycj View Post
    I find the riders that I catch that speed up in front of me to see what I'm made of are even more fun. Part of it is just the irony of it. I wear baggy clothes, no gloves, I have more grey hair than not. I ride a fat bike or a plus bike with flat pedals. I have a sweaty beard. I'm usually red faced and sweaty and pretty short compared to most bike riders. Most riders that see me either assume I'm about to die, or that I can only hold my pace for another 60 seconds before I puke.
    Passing someone who is riding in full Lycra on a $8k bike while I am wearing baggies and a cotton t-shirt does bring a smile to my face.
    I'm faster than most of the people I see on the trail, but then again I rarely ride with groups so I don't have much of a comparison. If I get in the top 10% on Strava I feel really good about myself. The more popular the trail though the harder that this. Like there is a climb on a trail system near my house. I am 2,500th place out of 11,000 people. It's nice that I'm faster than thousands riders, but at the same time there are still thousands of other riders who are faster than me too. Kind of depressing in a way.

    It's easy to lose sight of how good the pros are, in any sport. When you watch football or basketball on TV, those guys sitting on the bench are still the best of the best of the best. Out of 7.6 billion people in the world, only a few hundred are better than they are, and they are currently out on the court/field playing.

  31. #31
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    Quote Originally Posted by Harold View Post
    For me, the greatest satisfaction in riding is almost entirely internal.
    Same here, if I can climb through the back pain longer than the last ride that's a victory for me no matter how many old ladies hike past me

  32. #32
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    There's nothing more satisfying than the look on the face of rider I just passed who's on the latest carbon superlight wonder machine dressed in spandex as I zoom past him on my 10 year old steel single speed wearing just an old t shirt and no pants.

  33. #33
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    Could give a flying fig if someone passes me on the flat/uphill...

    Good for them, I say =)

    Never been passed on a serious down (unless I've setup a wee yard sale) i.e. somewhere where the gravity is doing the work & you're hanging on o_0

    I've been passed by plenty of Lycra legends during endurance events.

    Anton Cooper made me look like I was going backwards a couple of times >.<

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  34. #34
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    Quote Originally Posted by Scott O View Post
    There's nothing more satisfying than the look on the face of rider I just passed who's on the latest carbon superlight wonder machine dressed in spandex as I zoom past him on my 10 year old steel single speed wearing just an old t shirt and no pants.
    I believe I have identified the true reason for the look on the passed rider's face.

  35. #35
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    I'm not really competitive, so I haven't entered a race in years. My goals on the bike are: 1) not to keep my group waiting and 2) take some photos. Sometimes I have to be a bit faster to catch up after taking photos to keep them from waiting.

  36. #36
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    It used to be an ego boost to pass people on the trail until I got taught a lesson a few years ago.

    I used to ride most Mondays and would occasionally pass this dude with decent pace but nothing fast I thought. One week, due to work, I changed up my riding schedule and instead of my usual Monday ride, I rode Tuesday and met the same dude at the trailhead. We started out and I thought I would be passing him fairly quickly, well not this time. He gradually lifted his pace until he disappeared down the trail and however hard I tried to keep him in sight, I could not. I find out later that he was a local XC racer and all those "passes" I thought I was making was really due to him not riding hard on Mondays. I guess that was his recovery day. LoL

    From then on I learned to ride my own ride, I do not get any satisfaction from passing people anymore on the trails because unless we have a set start and finish, I do not know how hard someone is really riding.

  37. #37
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    I was up at Kingdom Trails for NEMBAfest and hit one of the point it down and go fast trails (Tap & Die). I had no intention of ripping as there were so many people I figured there would be trail traffic. I got a clean run with no one in front. There aren't any drops to speak of, but it's tight with lots of hard cornering. There are also a bunch of well placed whoopties going into and out of some of the corners. I don't think I've ridden that fast for that long in my life. Definitely that next level feeling you mentioned. I climbed back up and hit an adjacent trail with the same character (Tody's Tour). I saw, back up the hill a bit, a guy I've ridden with a bunch of times at one of the local ride spots. He's a super clean rider and just cooks. I eased up and got back on it when he caught up to me and we rode out the rest of the trail with him hot on my heels. It felt good when he said I was ripping down the trail. Especially since I was on an aluminum XC hardtail.

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