Matty Dall once said to me “Stop pedalling! You’ll ride much faster!” Can you believe this guy, I thought he had rocks in his head but alas he turned out to be the smartest guy I know. Until I asked him to explain himself I thought about signing him up to the closest mental institution. Glad I didn’t because what he taught me helped me win my first serious race!
Riding single track is all about technical skill and a lot of finesse. Finesse on a bike can best be described as the fine art of being smooooooooth. A smooth rider with less fitness (and/or power output) than his or her competitors can easily gain time by efficiently approaching obstacles such as rock gardens, logs, creek crossings, steep pinch climbs and fast corners with half the amount of effort. A few seconds here and a few seconds there translates to minutes gained at the finish line.
Alternatively a rider who bangs into every rock, miss-times log jumps, skids out of control down hills, slows down far too much for every corner and then proceeds to power out of that corner like a mad thing, wastes valuable energy only to get slower and slower with every lap. NOTE: BTW, that rider used to be ME! If this sounds like you, don’t worry it’s a common theme that can be fixed with PRACTICE, PRACTICE and more PRACTICE!
What Matty really meant when he said to stop pedalling, was that I should try to be more efficient. More efficient by anticipating the terrain, setting up early and reducing any excessive braking into corners to maintain my speed through the turns so that I didn’t need to pedal so much out of the corners. I was getting so fatigued; I was literally running out of energy halfway through my races.
RACE DAY: Let me set the scene for you. I raced away from the start and literally rode off the front! The pack never saw me again. I was railing berms, carving corners confidently, hopping logs, pumping and maintaining my momentum over rocks and all the other obstacles. I even had enough energy that I could slam it into the big ring to power along all the fire roads and gained even more time! I was literally on fire!
Being a smooth and efficient rider is easier said than done and it does take time and a lot of practice. However do not be discouraged. Next time you get the chance to practice your skills and tweak your finesse, take the time to really ‘think’ about what you are doing. Have a strategy next time you ride your favourite trail and don’t just ride it. Plan to practice the skills necessary to become a more efficient and confident rider e.g. practice setting up for your corners, reduce your excess braking, maintain your speed. No matter how good we get, we’ll never be Hans Rey, Brian Lopes or even Danny MacAskill and even then, those guys never stop learning.
If you’re ready to take your riding to the next level, then watch my new presentation. If you haven’t watched it yet, don’t forget to take a look and let me know what you think! 🙏Here’s the link to watch it now…. https://joinnow.live/s/K6l1vj
High Performance Mountain Bike Coach
My speciality is helping serious and recreational mountain bikers break through plateaus to attain higher levels of performance so that they can get fitter, faster, stronger and win more races!