Sunday, April 23, 2006

Cleaning Old Farm

Old Farm, aka the Gateway trail in Blacksburg is a fixture on Brush Mountain. It was one of the first trails I ever rode up when I moved here. From that first day it has been my nemesis, reducing me to a pulp both climbing and descending.

In the 12 or 13 years I've lived here I've cleaned it w/o dabbing less than 10 times. Yesterday John and I rode up it. I got to check out his new Trance2. Very nice.

It was wet. Running water down the trail sort of wet. Rocks were wet, roots were wet, piles of leaves were wet. I dropped a little tire pressure out of the Stan's. I also dropped a little air pressure out of the fork. That dropped the front end a tad making it easier to keep it down and also made it easier to loft when needed. Via pedal stroke or pulling up. That makes technical climbing much much better.

There are two ways to approach Old Farm. Going for the clean, or going for time. The two are mutually exclusive. There are like 7 or 8 technical sections. The only way I can clean them is when I approached them with some reserves. When going for time, I'm already into the red when the tech sections are reached, and there is no way for me to go any harder.

When going for the clean, I ride very conservatively, almost easy until prior to the tech sections. Then I'll gear up and increase cadence. After the section recover. Till the next. It is always a mental game. Every time one section gets completed I find myself thinking of the glory of summiting fully clean. And typically I screw up the next tech section or more often than not make some dumb mistake on a small rock or root.

Yesterday I couldn't believe how well the HP was hooking up on the roots/rocks. Sometimes when your balance points are on and the stars align you can ride anything. Typically, I'd spin the tire out trying to pedal on any wet root. But I was able to unweight and shift the C/G over forward just enough that the tire wouldn't slip.

It probably helped that earlier in the morning I'd done some Leadout intervals on the trainer. Leadouts are done in the saddle with a hard starting gear. Ramp up till 140rpm or so and hold. Total on 20seconds. 20 off repeatx8 rest. 4 sets of those. They hurt. I hate them. But I am realizing that these are probably one of the MOST important workouts for mountain biking. There are so so many situations where the ability to ramp up cadence in a good gear is required. So many grunt climbs and technical sections use this type of technique to get over and through them with momentum.

The key is to be able to recover afterwards and keep going at a steady pace.

There is a big difference between PR time and clean time for me. Yesterday was about 4-5minutes off pr pace.

But it is nice to not have to push, even if it is slower.


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