Monday, February 07, 2011

On variables and the body's ability to compensate

For less than a dozen days within a year, I can get out onto the snow for boarding. Only a handful of times to not only ride, but also tweak and mess with configuration variables of equipment. In which each has the power to change performance with only mm of change. Yet within all this variability, there seems to be only degrees of improvement that the body has an amazing ability to compensate for and overcome. Leading to the question of at what point is it worth stopping the tweaking and just concentrate on the riding and adapt to whatever it is?

Here is a list of variables that can have noticeable affects.
The board
-Type (park, pipe, freestyle, all mountain, freeride, big mountain, twin, directional twin)
-Camber type and flat camber
- wax type
- edge detuning

-heel hold
-toe box


-highback flex
-highback forward lean
-stance width
-front angle
-rear angle (duck vs both forward)
-regular or goofy foot forward
-stance centering
-flex pattern on straps
-where the strap hits your foot
-toe strap set as cap or across the top of foot
-highback rotation
-canting angles
-heel wedge

With all the variables one can isolate a single one and change it one at a time, or change multiple variables at a time. And with limited time on the snow, there is no way to test all combinations. Something I'm actually looking at in my research is methodologies for testing like factorial design where you test a limited number of configurations but can gain some insight into what other combinations would be given the results

Sometimes I thinks it's time to settle on a configuration and then let you body adapt. I'm almost there, but took a little step backwards with this little gaffe. I think stance position is probably one of the most important settings. The board manufacturers provide a recommended location where the center of your bindings ought to go.

This based on the location of the side cut and the type of conditions that the type of board was designed for. Sure I know more than anyone, but I imagine that the designers of the board defined these recommended position for important reasons.
Look close at the image below which is the top of a board similar to mine:

See the four holes that have a ring around them. These are the starting centered stance recommended by the manufacturer. All the other holes provide you two things, the ability to customize your stance width, and to also shift the entire stance back or forward to compensate for varying conditions such as powder. Which I know nothing of living in the east coast, but supposedly, you can shift your whole stance back to help lift the tip in deep snow.

So say you want a wider stance. The idea is to start at the centered location and than move both bindings out but X amount (one hole, two holes) rather than just moving one 2X. The disc of the bindings also allows a little more variability

So my board has a centered stance of 21", but with the inner most set of the 6 pack of holes, combined with the extra holes in the binding plate I can get a minimum of 18.5" stance width.

Widerstance --> stability but harder to bend at the knees/ankles.

Imagine my surprise when I took loosened up my plates to wax the board (important to loosen the screws when waxing so that the screws don't pull in little divots when you heat it up).

Hmmm, the rear binding seems to be placed off center to the back.

And I rode the whole day yesterday with it like this. Was it off the last time I went too? And how did I ride, ok, pretty good actually. The reason was that my timing of weighting and unweighting was improving a little bit. Something did feel off a little bit.

I of course changed it back to proper centering. And just for good measure added a little forward lean, and will probably remove some of that padding I was messing with in the boots. Why change one thing when you can just change several and start off riding like crap and then compensate over the next few times? But then the season will be over and start over next year.

I'm sure that the snow conditions are going to deteriorate into the ice and crust we typically have which will add another level of variability that wasn't included above.


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