Sunday, October 29, 2006

Stars aligning

Some days everything goes well on a ride. Regardless of what bike or equipment it just feels good. Today was one of those days. Spectacular fall day. Chilly but sunny with tacky trail conditions and some leaves. Virginia has got to be one of the most beautiful states I've ever been in. From the drive to the trail head to the singletrack, just amazing.

My rear shock is on loan to Earl who just got an Azure . Out of the box his shock was blown so he hasn't even had the chance to feel the DW-link love. He bought it on my recommendation so it was breaking my heart.

I'd been planing on a road ride, but John called an hadn't been on his mountain bike since the Rowdy Dawg. Besides hunting season has started so the best time to mountain bike is on Sunday anyway. So I pulled off the slicks, and the rigid fork and stuck back on some knobbies and the Black 80 SPV (whose bushings are shot and SPV valve is sticking). I had to run yes-tubes because all my Stans was setup on my disc wheels.

Off the bat I thought things wouldn't go well. Hardtail instead of the FS, 35-40psi tubed instead of <30psi tubeless, 80mm fork instead of 100mm, and Vbrakes instead of discs.

Yet there are those days when the legs are good, and the skills are good, the weather is good, and the riding partners just brings out the best in you. The hardtail is not dead by any means.
Switching back and forth between the two bikes really helps me appreciate the best parts of each. On smooth climbs the hartail is just a rocket. Direct power transfer.

Technical climbs favor the FS, however when riding the hardtail, I believe that it forces you to be more a more aggressive and more pro-active. The FS can sometimes create some complacency that can really work against you in mountain biking. With the hardtail I attacked some of the technical sections more which in turn got me through them pretty well. I was surprised that my rear wheel was hooking up as well as it did given the higher tire pressure and the lack of suspension. I think I was able to get the front wheel up/over stuff while at the same time driving the rear wheel into the ground. The shorter fork also helped keep the front planted.

One thing about technical climbing is that you've got to get your weight driving forward. So when you pull a small wheelie or lift you front wheel up, if you don't move your weight forward you're not going to clear the root/rock very well.

But today my balance and weight transfer just felt right. I was nimble and moving all of the bike. It helped a lot to have ridden D-back the other day because that forces you to explore the limits of the cockpit and be fluid and dynamic.

I'd been trying to figure out why my skills have been failing lately. I think a lot of it has to do with vision and poor braking technique. Today, the weaker V-brakes actually helped promote better braking technique. Because they aren't as strong as disc brakes I had to get on them much harder in order to control speed. On/off is how you are supposed to brake. Not this dragging and light braking crap. Which is what I've been doing a lot of lately. It's ironic because the first words out of my mouth when I got on the bike was that these V brakes have got to go in favor of some discs. That is still true but hopefully I can adopt better braking technique.

In addition, with root dropoffs, corners, and rocks you have to pick your braking points well. And when you do brake it has to be on/hard then off for the tech section or dropoff. This is one reason why I think I do better in rougher downhills than smooth downhills. On smooth stuff I brake for no reason when I get that fear sensation that I'm going too fast. And then I drag the brakes a lot instead of on/off.

I also tried hard to focus on vision and keeping the head/chin up. Seeing obstacles and then looking past them. Relying on peripheral vision and permanence of memory. Smiling helps a lot too. Gene says that smiling releases endorphins that help to relax you. As opposed to thoughts of crashing and getting hurt which lead to tensing up which will lead to crashing and getting hurt. Amazing how that works.

Getting the weight low and rotating/driving with the hips was on my mind as well. I rotated my hips so well a few times I clipped right out of the pedals.

Another thing working in my favor has been the return to lifting. It's only been two weeks and very light lifting. However the upper body work is something I react to very quickly. I can just look at a weight or do a push up and put on muscle mass. Sort of a double edged sword with regards to cycling, but I quite like being able to ride technically well. I think it would be a good idea to maintain some level of upper body work throughout the year. But it's hard for me regardless of how little time it would take to think about it when the focus changes to the intervals or whatever phase it is.

Also the core work has been helping a lot as well. Again, my core has been so weak that just two week of anything has helped make some big gains in stability.

This time of year, I can focus on skills and not worry about the fitness/racing part. But since my attention span is like a gnat I bounce back and forth from one thing to another. I need to remind myself of the skills stuff every ride.

A lot of times, I'll say this mantra before a ride to help me remember the things I need to bring. Bike, wheel, shoes,shorts, jersey, gloves, helmet, food, water, tools, tube. It works pretty well except when you walk right by your bag and drive to the trail head w/o it. I think I need to create a mantra for skills to say at the beginning of a ride to help remind myself of the core concepts

hips- rotate the hips/drive with the hips
chin/chest/head LOW (moto)
Brakes= ON/OFF
dynamic/pro-active - drive the bike, pump the contours, push the front end down
use all the cockpit -

Hips, moto, brakes, drive, dynamic, smile. That sounds good.


At 4:10 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Can't tell you how much I love the blog. So informative and a daily stop for me.



Post a Comment

<< Home