BettyGoHard - Taking the Intimidation out of Action Sports - providing the tools & information to build confidence, skills & friendship to help women of all ages, levels and lifestyles Get Out and Be Active!
I made a special effort to shrug off all commitments and get to the Interbike dirt demo this year, I have heard great things and thought it was time I checked it out. I arrived into Vegas at 11.50 with the goal of making it for the last shuttle at 2.30pm out to the demo. Vegas was calm and overcast when I got there, however from what I heard it sounds like I arrived at the perfect time, just after the storm passed. Earlier that day the dirt demo had been more of a mud fest with only the hardcore hitting the trails with some serious rain around them.
I am about to give you the key to speed. One phrase. Are you ready?
Don't use the brakes.
Don't look so disappointed. What were you expecting, Magic? I don't mean to not use them at all, just use them less.
One of the best ways to improve your riding is to go with someone that is faster than you. Not way faster, so that you get discouraged, but a bit faster, so you really have to work to keep up. Once you've found someone that fits the bill, try following them through some downhill singletrack. Notice how the gap keeps getting bigger? You're not doing much pedaling so it's not likely a strength issue. What could it be? I'll tell you, the faster rider is using their brakes less.
Have you ever been on a ride when, for some reason, you had no brakes, or a lot less than you wanted? Maybe a cable broke or your rims iced up or something. I know it was scary. Careening downhill, unable to slowdown to a comfortable speed, you thought you were going to die. But you survived, and you went down that hill a lot faster than you otherwise would have. If you want to go faster every ride you need to harness a bit of that experience and apply it in a more controlled manner.
Moving out of our comfort zone can make us apprehensive. To try to calm the fears of your rational mind have your irrational mind tell it this: Speed is our friend; Speed brings stability; Stability is good. The wheels underneath do more than just hold us up. They also act as gyroscopes, like those spinny things you may have played with as a kid. They're also the things that keep spacecraft stable in the vacuum of space. The faster a gyroscope spins, the more rigidity it has. This means the faster your wheels are turning the more they will fight to stay upright and pointed straight ahead, just what we want. Now you know why sometimes when you get anxious and slow down you biff, but if you stay fast and ride it out you make out okay and look like a hero.
The hard part is knowing how fast is really too fast and when to say whoa. You can set yourself up with an exercise to explore these limits. Find a section of downhill singletrack steep enough that you won't have to pedal much and fast enough that you definitely have to brake for the corners. (Keep IMBA happy and make sure you won't encounter any hikers or horses on the way down). Make your first run at your normal blistering speed. Try to note where you apply the brakes for each corner. On the next run, each time you reach for the brakes fight the impulse for one second. Remember that every bit of speed that you can carry through the turn is speed you don't have to gain back on the next straight. And that's energy in the bank, my friend, better than money. A little bit saved every corner can really add up over the course of a trail.
In all your subsequent training runs try to brake just a tick later than the time before. It is super important to ensure that you are only using one or two fingers on your brakes - no three, four or five fingers - what are you holding on with? Although some might suggest that a tip to avoid the temptation to brake too early or when you really don't need to is to ride with all eight fingers wrapped around the bars. I personnally subscribe to the theory that you should always be brake ready including uphill climbs.
The key to pushing the envelope is to do it gradually, in small increments. Riding a downhill with your front brake disconnected may make teach you how to go really fast. More likely, it'll teach you just how brittle collarbones really are. Even though improvements may seem small one corner at a time, it will add up and it will make a difference. You worked way too hard for that speed to just turn it into heat for no good reason.
Good luck and stay safe!
Thanks to Dirtworld.com Staff for more tips and biking information visit them at www.dirtworld.com
BettyGoHard is well into our biking season and it has been so much fun to be out with the ladies. It is amazing to see the improvements of the groups from week one to week four. The biggest improvement that I see is the increase in confidence in themselves and their new found skills that the girls get with each new achievement. Mountain biking is as much about keeping the mind quiet as it is about negotiating the trail skillfully. You can have all the skills but if you keep telling yourself that you can’t do it you probably won’t.
I once read that our brain cannot distinguish between the messages that it receives from you (the owner of the brain) and someone else, which is why affirmations and mantras are so effective. I have borrowed my favorite climbing mantra from Thomas the tank engine ‘I think I can, I think I can, I know I can, I know I can, I am, I am – yeeha!! I made it. I have found focusing the brain on the task at hand with a mantra – ‘look, lean, exit’ or focus on your body position; tighten the abs, lift your hips, cowboy legs, look ahead etc.
There are many different skills to mountain biking and the ones that we have been working on a lot have been bike body separation, climbing and switchbacks. So over the next few weeks I thought I would share a few thoughts on these skills. Let’s start with climbing:
Don't be in a hurry. When starting a climb, settle down and relax, breathe deeply, get into a rhythm and focus on the trail ahead and your line. Do not try to keep up with other riders. You have your own climbing pace, don’t try and compete just stick to it and you will make it. Don't be looking way up ahead and thinking "yikes!" and "aargh!" Getting flustered or panicky is counterproductive: it wastes energy and induces negative physiological reactions. Stay in the moment. Look around and enjoy the view. Smile. You will get up there and beyond, one pedal stroke at a time. You will find that as the minutes pass, you will feel better and stronger, as your system adapts to the effort.
Think about your gears and change them whenever you need to, just remember if you are going uphill don’t crank on them or you could break something. Don't spin madly in a tiny gear and go nowhere fast--you'll just tire yourself out in short order. Use a ratio that gives some resistance.
Scan your body frequently to ensure correct position as we get tired we tend to slump, just keep adjusting. Don't tense your upper body; keep your shoulders down, elbows bent and in, head up and looking ahead, picking your line. Your upper body should be straight and quiet; only your legs should be moving. Ensure that you have even weight over the front and back of the bike; if you find that the front wheel is lifting think about bringing your chest to your handlebars but remember to keep your bum back on the seat to keep the weight on the rear tire or you will find it spinning. Another common issue is the front wheel moving from side to side, keep it solid by tightening your core and looking up.
Dismounting. Sometimes the slope gets too steep or we don’t quite make it around the switchback – it happens and its ok but we do need to ensure that we can dismount safely. This will enable you to try things safely without the risk of going backwards downhill upside down.
The technique: while going uphill grab both brakes and put your inside foot on the ground leaving the outside foot on the pedal forming a tripod. From here either bring your outside leg over the bike or take the pedal to the top of the stroke and try to restart – always holding both brakes. Use the same technique when going downhill.
o May 8th – Mothers Day Ride Clinic
o May 27-29 - Cindy Devine Skills Camp
o June 4th –Ladies Introduction to Off-Road Riding
o June 5th – Ladies Park Clinic
o June 4th – Ladies Introduction to Off-Road Riding
· Nelson – Working with Gerricks Cycle to create clinics for Nelson
o May 13–15 - Ladies Off-road Tri Clinic –focus on running and biking
o June 11th - Ladies Intro to off road riding Clinic
o June 12th - Ladies Intro to off road riding Clinic
· Silver Star
o July 15,16&17 – Fourth Annual BettyGoHard Loeka Silver Star Biking Weekend
Local Summer Camps
o July 5,6&7 – Rossland beg/int – 8-13yrs Girls
o July 11,12&13 – Rossland int – 10-15yrs Girls
o July 18,19&20 – Trail beg/int – 8-13yrs Girls
o July 21&22 – Trail beg/int – 8-13yrs Boys
o August 15&16 – Castlegar beg/int – 8-13 Girls
o August 22&23 – Castlegar beg/int – 8-13 Boys
· Working with Grand Forks Recreation & Gerricks Nelson to develop camps for Grand Forks and Nelson
Local Ride Series
o April 6th – 27th – Four Week XC Biking and Chocolate – strengthening and conditioning
o May 11th – June 1st – Four Week XC Biking and Chocolate
o May 23rd - 13th – Four Week XC Biking and Chocolate
o May 24th – 14th – Four Week Beginner Downhill Biking and Chocolate
o May 26th – 16th - Four Week Intermediate Downhill Biking and Chocolate
Local Hiking Series
o April 21st – 12th – Four Week Hiking Series
o April 19th – 10th – Four Week Hiking Series
o August 13th & 14th – Camping retreat: Hike to the Natural Arch and Dogwood Falls on the Arrow Lake just North of Castlegar