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Existentialism-- Just a bloody good excuse to go riding...

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Re-learn to ride

Strange as it may sound, but after almost 3 decades on bikes....I find myself learning how to ride all over again.

Had an opportunity today to learn more and from one of the best around here. The session was more DH oriented but apart from the airing and all, it was really the essential "down to earth" techniques that got my attention....and hopefully bringing what's learned to bigger and more challenging stuff when riding overseas

The whole "need to learn how to ride" obsession came all about with the switch to longer travel bikes, where it is harder to maneuver than short travel xc bikes on the trails. Take any AM bike and call it the best 6" climber...fact is it will never billy goat up like a 3-4" XC but it will always shine through better than that lycra clad guy on the downs.

Descent is anything but spectacular on our local trails, hence many things associated with the finer side of riding into and out of fast turns etc never came into question. With bigger bikes plus longer travels, riding has gotten a lot more aggressive. Picking more gnarly lines is the norm rather than avoiding them or rather than just simply going through in slow sure cat-footed style as in years past, nursing a lightweight hard-tail between the legs.

With the changes over time, albeit slow, there are now more trails, more features, more berms to rail and all. It becomes a matter of how to ride these out in the fastest smoothest possible way. I have always been bitching about how the trails here has little or no flow as everything is built with the XC guy in mind.......probably a result of  biking vids overdose featuring those endless miles of descents and huge ass airtime.  Hhhmmm.

However by watching some riders over the last couple of years, I realize that there is a lot of sections on these same old boring trails that can flow which just never occurred to me before. The classic XC trail around here, B.T., with enuf speed and flow, even DH bikes were ripping thru it.

With 6 inches of suspension front and back on my trail bike, it is sufficient to take even the rockiest outcrop here  ride it out with enough speed to crest the next slope. It seems almost too "easy" actually!!!.........that is until I realize that many basic techniques like in those vids  were not a part of my repertoire.

Many of these techniques had never been ingrained properly in all my years of riding. A result most likely from having been sidelined by the early masochistic days of xc style climbs where the guy that top out the hill in the hardest gear was the one to look-up to among peers ....Seeing and being a part of this kind of mentality, I believe led tori much tunneling when viewing the riding terrains and how it could be tackled.

Therefore I set out to re-learn and hopefully learn some new stuffs along the way. From tires to suspension to frame geometry designs and honing the riding together with all these new improvements on bikes.

From the "hardware" side of things, the accumulation of knowledge has gone leaps and bound, I could now  articulate on the finer points on the relationship of rebound and compression or the virtue of a thinner longer length of Ti coil over a thicker shorter one with both having the same spring rate.

Having a tome of info in the brain is not going to help though. So its back on the bike and actually riding it right that counts!

Understanding suspension tuning and playing around with tire and pressure has helped heaps in clearing those massive patches of roots and rocks with speed and ease. But cornering into all those tight turns is always what sets me back.... Sure, all those instructional videos have told u how to put which foot down and all. But once back on the trail all are forgotten and the ingrained bad habits kick in every time...

Setting off this morning, expecting to learn the finer points of airing to make me a better poser, which I reckon was something I  did learn at least theoretically (but not in actual jumps as seen in the pic here), the unexpected part was getting to "see" all those things that makes one ride faster. It's oriented from a DH point of view but many of the tips are very much applicable on any trails. Learning to see ahead and use the slightest rise in the soil on one side to grip the side knobs and turn fast without braking.....

Many things are really just common sense but its amazing how when it is pointed out "live", you begin to realize common sense has been eluding you all your life!

Tomorrow is time to put to the test what I "learned" today. Let's see if a lap can be completed where rider and bike is as ONE  and attain a no-brake Zen moment.

Ok just the basic stuff... that pedaling while in mid air which I hears so many times from Dirty was witnessed today. HC looks just like in that ET movie. A technique that's got something to do with better traction on landing during DH competition to enable riding off faster after a jump. Definitely way over my head   :)

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