Saturday, May 24, 2008

Pedal stroke over obstacles

Rode some of the new trails up at Mountain Lake today. Kudos to Ben for creating some incredibly technical trails. Very challenging requiring total A-game. Great to wake me up from complacency and get excited to ride.

Some of the trails had some serious rock gardens on them. Like Dragon's Back and Harrisonburg rock gardens. Fun stuff if you've got balance, momentum and power.

I think on of the keys is gear selection. Choosing the right gear that you can pop your front wheel on demand. This can't be too low because you can't go very fast, and not too high otherwise you might not have enough oompfh behind it. The gear needs to match how fast your going.

Something I struggle with a lot is timing a wheelie inducing pedal stroke such that when my front tire lands on an object (rock, top of a log, etc.) that my feet are in my strong position (the coasting position, the chocolate foot forward as Hans Rey calls it) with my strong foot forward. From this position I can much easier hop forward to get the rear wheel to clear the obstacle I just pedaled over.

The ironic thing is I used to years ago know how to do this w/o thinking. Clearing 1"-1.5" ledges and logs. Though now it's hit or miss. Sometimes I hit it right other times my feet are opposite how I want them, other times the whole thing is mistimed and my wheel is on the other side of the log and my chainring is stuck on the log.

It's so hard because you have to time your pedal stroke at the same time that you are moving towards the obstacle. Sometimes you just can't stop pedaling in order to get in to position prior to the obstacle as you'd lose all your momentum especially if it is uphills or rocky. So you have to be pedaling towards it and then be in the right position to perform your pedal stroke such that your strong foot is forward when your front lands on the obstacle. Then hop.

The other trick is knowing how far away from the obstacles to be before you start the power pedal stroke. Depending on speed probably a foot and a half. I used to think about it in terms of which foot to start at the 12 o'clock position, then how many pedal strokes do you do with that foot. With your weak foot at the top of a pedal stroke, a 3/4 pedal turn will put your strong foot parallel with the ground.

But this video I found changes around the semantics a little and calls it a 1/2 pedal power stroke with the weak foot + a 1/4 power stroke with the strong foot to get you in the right position.

I think I like this way of looking at it and need to practice and ingrain it. This is going to be key to ride this stuff as well as any other big obstacles out there, when you don't have enough speed to coast to it.

This is definitely one of those things you just can't think about.


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