1 Question: What Does It Take to Become a Faster Rider?

Jul 31, 2015
by Mike Kazimer  
1Question
The sensation of speed, the feeling of the wind whipping against your face as the ground turns to a blur beneath knobby tires is one of the reasons so many of us become addicted to mountain biking. The search for speed can become a lifelong pursuit, especially for the professional racer whose livelihood depends on being the fastest rider on course come race day. But going fast isn't simply a matter of letting off the brakes and hoping for the best, or mashing on the pedals as hard as possible.

Brute strength and a disregard for the laws of physics only go so far, and it takes years of practice, years of refining and perfecting technique in order to unlock the secrets that can mean the difference between standing on the podium and watching from the crowd. What does it really take to go faster? We asked a cross-section of particularly speedy mountain bikers, ranging from downhill world champions to enduro racers in order to find out.








Rachel Atherton - Downhill Racer, GT Factory Racing

Rachel Atherton has been a fierce competitor on the downhill race course for over a decade, racking up more World Cup victories than any other elite competitor, male or female, during that time. 2015 is shaping up to be another successful season, with wins at three out of the first four World Cup events.


bigquotesOne tip to go faster? It is pretty difficult to narrow it down to one thing! I guess right now I would say bike and kit set up... I see so many people, men and women, with their bikes totally wrong for them and what they are riding, making it way harder for themselves and way less fun. Don't be scared to play around with your bike set up, get the tools out and change something every run. I've seen people riding who can barely reach their brake levers, let alone comfortably. Move the brake levers around, make sure you can rest your fingers comfortably on the lever, move them up and down, see how that affects your wrist, elbow and consequently body position...

It's so important to have your suspension set up right for what type of track you are on so you won't get sucked into every hole; instead you'll skip over the top of them, your legs won't get knackered because your shock is too soft, etc, etc... Wind a few clicks on your forks and shock, do a run, then wind them back the other way and try again, see how it feels. Make sure your helmet peak is high enough so you can actually see out. Move the cleats on your SPD shoes backward for better cornering.... I think it's a huge area people can improve on; I play around and learn constantly with my set up. It's your bike, your ride - make it your own.

If you are doing all this already and you want to be able to keep up some of the world's fastest women, then I would say let the bike move. Stick your knees out. Bow legged! If I'm coming hot into a section of rocks or rough shizzle, I know that my bike wants to soak it up so I give it the space; I stick my knees out, I create room between my legs so my bike can move and weave and wiggle thru the rocks without it making my body move and twist too much. Let the bike do its thing, let it move, go with the movement. Especially if it's wet, just ride bowlegged - you won't get chucked around as much.

If you stay strong and square but loose, you can ride anything.





John Tomac - Mountain Bike Legend

One of mountain biking's first superstars, Tomac's racing exploits have become legendary. BMX racing, cross-country, downhill – no matter the discipline, Johhny T was a force to be reckoned with in the late '80s and early '90s. As the saying goes, 'the apple doesn't fall far from the tree,' and in recent years his son Eli has been making a mark on the petrol-powered world of Supercross.



bigquotesTrain your speed. You're probably thinking, what is that? I'm going to keep this more gravity specific, but it's applicable to DH within XC or straight up DH. Here's a couple of things to "train your speed." I'll give an example for turns and straighter sections.

Turns: Get through the turns faster. How do you do that? The single best thing you can do is what I like to call "increase your timing" in turns. This means you're going to enter faster, brake less and lean earlier and at more lean angle than before. This also requires that you look further ahead down the trail whether it's looking through a turn or looking further down a straight section. Don't go too big with your steps doing this when you start as you will most likely be on your head quickly, but take some reasonable steps doing it. You will find your limits when you either lose traction, or simply not be able to make the turn and go off trail.

Straighter sections: As far as the straighter sections of trail go, when it's rough, stay on top of what's rough. Easily said but harder to do. That means going fast enough that you are not allowing your wheels to drop very deeply into any holes, that could be holes from brake bumps, roots or rock sections. This requires commitment to speed and courage. It does get easier the faster you go. That's one reason the pros make it look easy. And they also look crazy fast because of course the penalty is greater if you come off....but it's going to hurt anyway so you might as well make it easier and "send it."

Also look to jump over rough sections sometimes, maybe you hit one rock and jump five instead of hitting six rocks or roots or braking bumps or whatever is there. Sometimes airing it out is faster than rolling over it, but this needs to done in a "ride light" manner because you're probably going to land in some of that same rough terrain you're jumping over. Use your arms and legs to absorb these landings and keep momentum going forward. If rolling rough steeper terrain, brake as little as possible on that rough terrain. Those brakes will drag your momentum down by dragging your wheels deeper into bumps and not allow the chassis to work freely underneath you. If it's a pedaling rough section, keep the rpm's low with gearing and keep powering and floating over those bumps. Once again, staying on top of the rough stuff is key.





Tracey Hannah - DH Racer, Polygon Bikes

Tracey Hannah kicked off her racing career at the young age of 4, sprinting around a dirt track on a BMX bike. As a teenager, her eyes were opened to the world of mountain biking by older brother Mick, and before long Tracey was competing with the best of the best on downhill courses around the world, taking home the Junior World Champion title in 2006 prior to moving into the elite women's category, where she continues to be a familiar sight on the podium.


bigquotesTo be honest that is not an easy question. First, I would ask, "Why do you want to go faster?" Going fast is not about letting off the brakes, it's about careful consideration of why you want to go faster. It's not simply deciding that you want to go fast. What is faster? If it's faster overall times then you would consider fitness, if it's faster between corners you would consider power, if it's faster in high speed sections you would consider fear, if it's faster on jumps you would consider precision, if it's faster in technical sections you would consider skill. Faster isn't simple and you should always consider first asking yourself "Why?"





Eliot Jackson - DH Racer, Pivot Cycles


One of the most stylish riders currently racing World Cup DH, Eliot Jackson is back on the race scene after a brief leave of absence due to health issues. Whether it's throwing nasty whips while wearing bedroom slippers, or finding ways to turn doubles into massive triples, Jackson's bike handling skills are some of the best around.




bigquotesThat's an interesting question! There are so many things that contribute to a rider getting faster. There are some obvious starting points such as fitness, jumping and cornering and some less obvious ones like bike setup, mindset and line choice. It has been invaluable for me to adopt an approach that I could break down into more achievable things, with more concrete goals. Instead of asking myself how I could get faster, I started to ask where my weaknesses were or where I was slow.

Before I get into that, though, I think one of the most important things a racer can do is try to learn what time actually is. Sounds philosophical, but if you watch Josh Bryceland, halfway down the track he'll look like he's just cruising or he'll check his goggles and you think he might have had a crash or mechanical and then suddenly he's two seconds up at the split. I think he has the best sense of knowing what makes up time, and what doesn't, out of anyone. Learning that really just takes practice and testing while you're on the clock. Asking questions like: is it better to pump here or pedal, how fast do I need to be going before it's better to tuck, how much did that mistake cost me, are these high lines actually faster, should I focus on entry speed or exit speed here, is it more important to take risks or be smooth, was getting wild there actually faster, if I recover in this section does it cost me time, is that trade off worth it? The answers are different for different riders and different tracks, but finding them helps a lot with confidence and consistency.

There's a lot of ways to recognize a weakness: Looking at split times, riding with people that are around or better than you, noticing a lack of confidence, watching videos, increased mistakes in that area, not enjoying that aspect of riding, etc. It could be anything, everything can always be better. Noticing things like struggling to ride a section not clipped in, not being able to ride a section with the opposite foot forward, being better at turning one way, off-cambers, taking a long time to do a gnarly line, getting tired, performing better in practice than races.

I'll give you an example of how I would break something down. Right now, I feel like I could use some work on really steep sections. The ones where you can't stop even if you wanted to. Instead of taking the amount of speed appropriate for the section, I tend to try to just stop the whole time. This means I'm going slower than I need to, not hitting my lines as good because I'm not as confident, probably panicking a little bit cause I can't stop and ruining my flow for that part of the track. One thing I can try would be to find a section where it doesn't matter if I make the turn, that way I can come down it fast without having to worry about the turn. Eventually, I will get comfortable going down the section that fast and I can try to start making the turn. I might blow over it a few time, but who cares. I can look at my lines: if I hit these bumps will that slow me down more, can I fishtail my backend to get more braking, is there a wider line? I can look at my bike setup: if I set my bike up for this (raise my bars, go to a different tire, soften my backend) is the handling I lose in other areas worth this gain, do I actually have to make a compromise?

I believe it comes down to confidence and feeling comfortable on the bike. For me, the way I get that is by breaking things down into smaller and smaller chunks until the answer is obvious and I just need to practice one small aspect at a time. I try not to be afraid of maybe having to go back and unlearn something I think I already know. Above all, I try to make getting faster fun because I know that if I enjoy the work, it's only a matter of time until I get where I want to be!





Adam Craig - Enduro Racer, Giant Factory Off-Road

If it has wheels, Adam Craig can probably figure out how to make it go fast. Whether it's racing rally cars, on track at the Enduro World Series, or taking part in the the debauchery of the Singlespeed Cyclocross World Championships, Adam knows how to crank the fun factor up to 11.


bigquotesRide challenging trails. Going fast isn't always exactly comfortable. You're on the edge of grip and control, hurtling through the woods on a bicycle.It's awesome, but not conducive to sleeping. Riding difficult trails isn't comfortable either, always struggling to stay on the right line with the correct amount of speeds to make things work. A lot of us, myself included, end up riding at 85 percent pace on "Pooh Bear's Naptime" on a pretty regular basis. It's easy and fun, and that's why we ride bikes. Unless we're trying to go faster, presumably with an eye toward formal or friendly competition. (That internet stuff doesn't pencil, for the record).

When I'm trying to go faster, in this case to the end of riding like less of a squid at Enduro World Series events, I ride out of my comfort zone. This can happen anywhere, since few of us are fortunate enough to live at the gates of Gnarnia, we've got to improvise. In my hometown there are a bunch of random dog-walking trails and disc-golf paths cut into the hillsides. These are some of my most valuable training grounds. Not made for bikes, they have a lot of problems to solve in the quest for speed. There's always a solution, and it usually comes from deep within your "Toolbox" of skills. (Wheelie, bunny-hop, manual, nose wheelie, arc, skid, etc) Applying these skills smoothly and efficiently to wang-chung terrain will make you a better person, and a much better rider. Initially, repetition is key. Ride that same little Bum Trail as many times as it takes to feel smooth while managing the unpleasant. Then start timing your runs on that trail, employing different techniques. This is when you'll start to see that smooth, while boring, is fast. Skidding is rarely the best option, braking early, entering high and arcing it out, even if it's rough and square and feels really slow, is actually way faster.

The next time you're at a real trail spot, apply that mindset to the radness you see yourself dominating. Respectfully. For me, this is Cline Butte's Trail Two. It's the kind of DH trail that you don't want to do timed runs down, but you have to. Steep, loose, mandatory drops into tight rocky turns, it's definitely not Stuffed Animal Approved. But, with a bunch of committed riding on local Bum Trails, I'm ready to deal with whatever Two has to offer. Even though Krunkshox is still way faster with his patented "blackout" technique...

The final step in this "hard trails make you faster" program is riding proper trails blind. This is the pinnacle of bike skills, in my mind. With the knowledge, deep down, that you have developed the tools to handle any situation (aside from falling off a cliff, watch out for that) it's incredibly satisfying, intoxicating even, to commit to the unknown. The more you can go new places and ride fast, the faster you'll ride at home and everywhere in between. This is your coach telling you to go somewhere new whenever possible and ride the hell out of that place. Do it now. Then help the Trail Boss fix your divots.





Manon Carpenter - DH Racer, Madison Saracen

Manon Carpenter has accumulated an impressive race resume over the years, including taking home the overall World Cup title and a World Champs medal in 2014. The string of podium appearances on the regional and world that began when she was in her teens shows no sign of ending anytime soon, and in 2015 she's already garnered three victories at the British Downhill series, and three podiums on the World Cup circuit.



bigquotesLook further ahead. This is something that I'm still working on myself, having recently received a photo from our team manager Will Longden where I'm looking at my front wheel, with the caption 'chin up'!

When riding a difficult section it's easy to find yourself following your front wheel, making sure it's going where you want it to, but before you know it you're getting caught up in the bits that you hadn't seen coming because you were too preoccupied with what was directly in front of you. If you make yourself look up you can plan where you want to ride further along the trail, spot the smoother lines and carry more speed so you don't get hung up on what's beneath you already.

Same applies on the faster sections. The faster you go, the further ahead you need to look to see and react to whatever is coming up on the trail. If you can spot a jump or blown out corner sooner then you've got more time to set up for it and find the best line through. As obvious as it sounds, it can make a big difference!






Fabien Barel - Enduro Racer, Canyon Bikes

With three DH World Champion titles to his name, one as a junior and two a senior, along with several World Cup podium appearances, Barel is no stranger to the search for speed. Factor in his recent successes on the Enduro World Series circuit and it becomes even more apparent that his mental strength and highly focused approach to competition pay off on race day.


bigquotesJust stop trying... When you believe you are fast, you are not, and when you feel slow and you are not trying, that is when you go fast. As racers all of us have this weird feeling that, for a while, we cannot understand. The response to this is called 'flow.'

We are living a world surrounded by nature, as is our sport. Every detail of it has got the right moment and a defined place, the right distance, and so does our riding. Believe it or not, this momentum, this "perfect rhythm" is what defines the maximum for anyone. You will tell me that every year, riders are going faster and faster. Yes, but this maximum speed, this perfect flow is defined by the rider's capacities (technical skills / physical aptitude) but also by his bike set up (geometry / suspension setting)... And last but not least, your mental condition, how free your mind is and how relaxed you are on the bike. When you go past this "maximum speed" you will start feeling super fast as your body will require all of your energy and strength to control the bike; your braking will become later on the track, your wheels are drifting, your head gets on fire as the adrenaline comes up your brain but.... You are slow.

Imagine a river bed and visualize water going down to it. Water accelerates at the right time and slows down at the right time to make it flow. Water does not go against the terrain but plays with it. As riders, we have to stay on the same note. We all know that the tree, roots, rocks, dirt are stronger than we are. let's not go against it but play with it.

So, my piece of advice is to find your maximum speed to pick up the right flow. Having this sensation allows you to be one with the ground and your bike, and every corner, jump, and move feel like a roller coaster where the momentum is just right, where the flow is simply getting you up to speed. There will be less energy to use, less stress on your bike and you will have more fun on it... Do not forget to look at the clock, as surprisingly, your time will be going down. If you do not believe so, ask Neko Mullaly or Aaron Gwin how they managed to have great times in DH runs without a chain.


Must Read This Week

178 Comments

  • + 232
 No one said 650b or carbon. How could they all forget?
  • + 38
 Or the dreaded plus

(Creeps away quietly hoping nobody heard)......
  • + 1
 Because they want titanium 29er :p
  • + 54
 You forgot living on your parents dime. You really think any of these World Cup racers would be riding at that level if they had to go to work when they were 16? Think again.
  • + 2
 Because they already have that stuff. They dont have to care about it.
  • + 24
 I saw Miss Atherton and her boyfriend at a Hayseed Dixie concert. I stared, pointed and giggled. Whilst my girlfriend scowled at me.
  • + 1
 @ShreddieMercury anything wrong with that?
  • + 37
 Not at all, my kids will have the best I can give them, and that's the way it should be. Hard work will beat talent and passion 90% of the time, but I often think about the people who work hard and are passionate, but plateau because of financial realities.
  • + 8
 The only thing that really makes you a lot faster is... ...Boost 148 Big Grin
  • + 2
 great comment!!
  • + 19
 "Water accelerates at the right time and slows down at the right time to make it flow - Barel" ... That makes remindme that video of "Be like water - Bruce Lee".
www.youtube.com/watch?v=APx2yFA0-B4
  • + 9
 @FabienTT

It reminds you of Bruce Lee because it's the same concept bro! The precepts that Lee applied to his martial arts practice can be applied to anything that we love and do.
  • + 3
 @ShreddieMercury I would agree with you spot on, it's just the unfortunate truth I suppose. Now a college student I've seen several peers dreams get sidelined due to life. Myself being one of them, sidelining the things I really wanted to do for school and etc. On the flip side, imagine if these riders didn't make it the world cup level? This is an assumption; but I would guess the majority of pro bikers don't have college degrees and etc, they put it all into biking and had they not made it it'd be different I'm sure. Risk and reward I suppose?
  • - 1
 Or the dreaded boost
  • + 6
 so boost doesn't actually speed you up WHAT A REVELATION
  • - 1
 alot of these type of sports, mtb, ski, snowboard etc have this unfortunate side effect. Infact, alot of the time companies will be more interested in sponsoring wealthing kids, because they can cover their own plane tickets and expenses, entry fees etc.
  • + 6
 Or maybe because those are the ones that can get themselves to a position where they can become noticed. Same as with anything actually.
  • + 0
 @game same with rock bands - people want to believe anyone with talent and enough hard work can make it in the world of music, but ultimately it comes down to having a bankroll so that you can tour instead of working a day job. as a result, most famous bands started off relatively well-off, not scraping by
  • + 2
 or 'just get a session'
  • + 3
 Slow or fast...the mere fact that I ride or can ride is enough sensation for me.
  • - 2
 @ShreddieMercury You couldnt be more wrong bro, you really think these guys grew up on their parents dime and thats why they are where they're at ??? More than half if not all of the WC guys/girls have been sponsored throughout their career from almost day one (including when they were racing as juniors), I wonder how they got sponsored.. oh thats right, mommy and daddy must have greased the wheels at all the high end sponsors until one bit, no. They got sponsored from being the best at what they do, and working their asses off to become that. Its rude and ignorant to say its because of someone elses ego to live vicariously through their children... Im sure they had their parents support but come on dude, REALLY, you think the best of the sport is a bunch of prep school dropouts who decided to ride bikes because they can afford to do so?! If you really have the mentality to be the best, and to actually strive for something as rare as standing on that podium in a WC race, those people, those people will have no regrets...why you ask, because we love mountain biking and everything it has to offer and the journey to wherever it takes us, be it a local 6 pack race or standing on that podium in the circuit. we do it because we love it, not because someone paid us to.
  • + 3
 That's definitely not true. Maybe some lived on their parents dime, but all the guys I'm riding with right now who are racing NAET and pro GRT work. I personally work on a trail crew and a bike shop to be able to afford bikes and work and what not. I'm sure there are WC riders who worked their asses off to be were there are, both training and in getting the money to ride.
  • + 4
 @ShreddieMercury I'm 17 and I have to work for my parts. Some of the more expensive parts my mom will pay for say half of it but I think you should also let you kids work for their parts when they get to the age. It is almost more satisfactory riding my bike knowing that the parts came from me and not from my mom's pocket. I also think it is awesome that you are willing to give them the best and you should keep that mentality!! It is so awesome having a supportive parent! Sounds like you got it on lock! Hahah
  • + 4
 @CaryRamey I totally see where you're coming from, but I think we all know just how expensive this sport is...There are several of reasons why I haven't pursued racing and biking seriously. One of which is being money, how am I getting that money? From working, which takes away my time to ride, in addition, yes my priorities aren't set on biking and I'm not all in on biking (I go to school and etc.). I'm also very well aware you need to be 100% all into something otherwise you simply won't make it pro. Anyways, at an amatuer level, junior age, someone is funding all the trips, bike components, and frankly in some people's cases, writing and sending out the right E-mails to the right people. With that said, yes you can't just be born into a WC racer, you have to work at it, but part of it is also luck of the draw I suppose. My parents never supported or even think biking can be a serious thing, granted my focus was other sports and a degree as well. At a junior age, with no support, I GUARANTEE I would never have progressed in the race world, hell I couldn't even get a bike together or get to a bike race, much less do a whole series. So it's definitely luck of the draw, but to move on to the WC level, it's all on the rider and their work from there.

In a quick addition, I wouldn't stretch how brutal the work is...after all it's riding a bike. We blow all our money from jobs we hate and try to ditch that job to go ride a bike, their job is to ride a bike.
  • + 2
 @Freerideguy14 I agree with you to some extent... listen, I'm 28 years old, I moved to Vail, Co about 2 summers ago now. I used to be a certified welder and climb cell phone towers in good ole Alabama !!! I friggin shredded back home don't get me wrong, but i worked ALL THE TIME... about 60-70 hours a week on average. that meant driving at least an hour away from home to some decent trails (good but not Colorado material) on the weekends or any off chance i was off.Yeah, i made good damn money which helped me make the move to Vail, but honestly you don't need that much ! It's so easy to pick up and go wherever the HELL you want !! I'm working as an engineer (glorified janitor) and making a bit over 13.00 an hour okay... I work from 230 pm to 1030pm wed-sun and I ride EVERY SINGLE DAY !!! I promise it's that easy. I'm not dissing school or college at all, thats great if you really know what you want to do, but who the hell does.. i say if you have the balls to put it out there and see what you got against the rest of the world i say do that shit and f*ck the rest.
PS.. what kind of car do you/yall drive- you don't need a 30,000 dollar vehicle if you want a nice bike.... sell that shit, buy the bike of your dreams and see how much you progress
  • + 1
 @ShreddieMercury you're wrong : example : nicolas lau was working from 14 or 15. bruni and clementz studied at university, so it's not really like if they had their whole days dedicated to riding
  • + 2
 Education is important. If you've got academic potential don't waste it, because even if you make it as a professional bike rider (Which is statistically unlikely in itself), if you're not winning world cup races you could earn a lot more in a normal job.
  • + 5
 Yeah but you'd have more fun losing world cups.
  • + 7
 Frankly, given the current trend with higher education (specially the US), you'd -almost 100% certain- be better off losing world cups than succeeding at education and getting a job... #studentdebt
  • + 1
 I totally agree with you about the satisfaction of not being spoiled and working for what you have! It makes a difference in how you treat and value your gear. Well said!
  • + 50
 You gotta go slow to go fast. -my interpretation of Fabiens explanation Whenever I forget about the clock and just ride smooth, it all comes together.
  • + 6
 Almost never go slow. Fast can FEEL slow. Every trail has a rhythm
  • + 6
 To quote 2 films.... 'Don't think, Feeeeeeeeeel' (Bruce Lee) or one we all know from without doubt the greatest actor of our time... Mark Wahlberg 'Slow is smooth, smooth is fast'. Ha ha.
  • + 2
 Totally agree with this. Or just trying to have as much fun as possible often leads to some of my best times.
  • + 7
 Fear brings hesitation, and hesitation can make your worst fears come true... Bodhi. RIP Patrick Swayze!
  • + 4
 Guy's waxing his moustache at the beach, gets sand in it, wipes it off with his shoe...
  • + 2
 "You gotta go slow to go fast"... I use the mantra, "Slow is smooth and smooth is fast".
  • + 2
 Barel channelling Bruce Lee with the "be like water" analogy. Beautiful!
  • + 1
 @ herzalot that was Mark Foo who had that saying,a great big wave charger in his time,his other saying was "to experience the ultimate thrill,you have got to be willing to pay the ultimate price"
  • + 1
 @future-primitive Thanks. Not sure if Foo said it first, or if it was used in the 1991 movie first, but Foo lived it, as do all big wave surfers. Guys (and gals) are just plain nuts!
  • + 50
 I asked Lance, he said "EPO"
  • + 16
 No, he said more than the others. ;-)
  • + 15
 But what does lance know? He hasn't even won a tour de france
  • + 47
 wd40 on braking pads mates.
  • + 1
 A neighbor's father actually did just that and then wondered why they wouldn't work! lol
  • + 31
 Ride every thing
DH
XC
Trail
4X
BMX track and DJ
MotoX (if affordable)
Things learned in one discipline WILL make you stronger in another

Most importantly.... HAVE FUN!!!
  • + 9
 Trials teaches a lot about line choice, plus learning trials techniques helps you bounce up those rock steps without looking stupid
  • + 7
 I always found riding a DJ hardtail in a gnarled place like PORC helps with line choice too, forces you to think smart. but yeah, get good on a trials bike and you can near enough ride anything on anything. ...well, thats what chris akrigg does anyway xD
  • + 2
 moto is cheaper than mtb FACTT probably
  • + 23
 All of these answers are excellent but I have to say that I think Elliot Jacksons is damn near perfect. There's a man who knows the real key to success, at anything.
  • + 6
 Just rewatched this www.youtube.com/watch?v=B1vl_2x6w5M to see how friggin superhuman he is, but to know that even he has weaknessess is humbling. He would make a great motivational speaker, imho.
  • + 1
 I'd never seen that mega gaps video before, EJ is such a dude!
  • + 1
 so articulate, nails it.
  • + 23
 Best article on pinkbike! So much information! Time to go change my bike set up Wink
  • + 7
 Agreed! This article has a tremendous amount of wisdom. Thanks PB!
  • + 2
 can @TEAM-ROBOT weigh in this discussion?
  • + 2
 "High black socks".
  • + 16
 I know Pinkbike is pretty solely focused on MTB, but to leave John Tomac's road accomplishments out of his bio is a bit crazy. From 89-91 he was on the 7-11 team, then the Motorola team, big time teams back in the day. He road the Tour of Flanders, Paris-Roubaix, and the Giro d'Italia while still competing in MTB! Insanity! I don't think we'll ever see the likes of Tomac again...
  • + 1
 Downvotes? Really...?
  • + 16
 One way to become a faster rider is to stop grooming all the damn trails and taking it upon yourself to change something just because you don't feel comfortable riding it. I'm so sick of seeing great trails destroyed because some self entitled douchebag thought something was too hard or too scary, and instead of nutting up, or god forbid, walking it, they just take a shovel to it, and then turn around and justify it as "no dig, no ride". You will never become a better rider unless you step out of your comfort zone.
  • + 19
 balls.
  • + 24
 Without technique...the Ladies don't care.
  • + 12
 Barel's got it! Sweet quotes.
  • + 1
 That's pretty spot on, I definitely follow this line of conduct whenever I want to be fast during races. Don't try to push, just let it flow.
  • + 1
 Zen
  • + 2
 @Skiteach thats exactly what I was thinking. It makes perfect sense though. I've been racing enduro all summer and my only podium so far was when I felt slow. I wasn't fighting the bike or the terrain at all I was just riding. Definitely my favorite piece of advice although all of the other ones were super helpful as well. Pinkbike killing it as always!
  • + 1
 @upside such sage advice and congrats on the podium!
  • + 11
 I love Tracy Hannahs answer/question.
  • + 3
 Yeah crazy huh! What is faster and why do you want it anyway?? Brilliant.
  • + 4
 and at what cost? Speed in due time...otherwise we'll be due for a doctor's visit.
  • + 6
 One thing I've noticed recently is instead of attacking local trails trying to go flat out all the time, relax have fun, find rocks and roots to jump off. You know what, according to the dreaded starva I'm going faster!
  • + 6
 Rode with my neighbor the other day on the local xc trails. He was super slow so i just played around, made up games for myself on the easy trails, like 'no pedaling' or 'no brakes'. Felt fast in its own way and made it fun too.
  • + 3
 Deathgrip and no pedal sections are pretty good training techniques I think.
  • + 7
 Tomac's and Manon;s tips are the real deal. Pure and simple technical advice.
  • + 8
 Tomac was indeed the shit.
  • + 1
 Truth! Seems he carries a gene for going fast on anything with two wheels.
  • + 7
 Get long hair and don't touch the brakes.
  • + 2
 This. Plus, no underpants.
  • + 1
 hippie
  • + 4
 ^is this just a recipe for a ratboy?
  • + 1
 @tobiusmaximum You get it right.
  • + 7
 Barel knows where it's at Big Grin .
  • + 3
 Faster is a result...not something to try to be. It's a result of perfection, of flow, of exit speed, of line choice, of training, of suspension set up... All of it contributes but what's important to remember is that it's an end result of a complex equation. Don't try to be fast, that's when you eat shit.
  • + 5
 Excellent article Mike, always great to hear the pros perspective. Tomac's comments are awesome, that guy has trained 2 of the fastest dudes on 2 wheels
  • + 2
 Skills & Fitness created equals among all of us, Fabien nailed it with "flow"...

Great book called "The Rise of Superman"... The science of "flow".

Optimal performance vs Ultimate performance.

When it happens, it's all shits and giggles!
  • + 5
 Get a savage bear to chase you down the trail.
  • + 5
 Tried that but you can't trust 'em...the SOB just cut all the corners and caught me in three turns.
  • + 1
 Buy an old karpiel Armageddon and try his line!
  • + 1
 It doesn't matter what hobby or activity it is.. The more you do it the better you get. I think with mountain biking, beyond the obvious things (fitness, skill, bike setup) if you do it regularly and you enjoy yourself, you will become faster. Riding with someone faster than me has always been one of the most effective ways for me to ride faster!
  • + 1
 This is good stuff, and really timely. I've gotten myself to a point where I can survive most trails but I'm definitely not fast on them. I know it just takes a million hours on those trails but there's good advice here to think about. Keep these articles coming!
  • + 1
 1. Have fun on your bike.
2. Train at the gym hard.
Do the right exercises and muscle memory gets you down a trail.
Does a top marshal artist train all the time fighting or sparing. Does a boxxer fight to get ready for a bowt? No they trai, do patterns and spar. Dh is about maximum effort (physical and mental) in a short time.
All the advice on setup is spot on. Being an engineer I love timing and seeing what works best for each terrain type for me. Feeling comfortable on your bike with a good setup and being strong and fit enough to ride the trail and not it ride you is key.
! Everyone is different. There is not 1 magic formula. Look at gwin v troy or rat v minaar. Team mates with such different styles and techniques. All work well and get great success.
gotta love just riding when you are older and have stopped hurting yourself trying to do well in your category. Makes racing a fun uplift weekend. Smile
  • + 1
 Like the top "Marshal" artists who referee the races???
  • + 1
 Following faster people is my tip. When I'm riding alone or with slower people I have a harder time making huge improvements. It's surprising how much faster you get with just one day following a good rider.
  • + 1
 true that...supposing ya make it out alive!!! haha
  • + 4
 I'd have to say saddle time, and getting comfortable with your bike.
  • + 4
 Ride motorcycles, road bikes. and winter sports for cross training.
  • + 0
 time off is critical...but in most of california we don't really get much in the way of winter sports. I always wish I could XC ski and do some dh ski for xtraining.
  • + 1
 Barel getting a bit Bruce Lee there, "Be water"! Still not sure what he's actually trying to say, but it sounds colourful and interesting anyway, yeah, I want to do what he's saying!
  • + 1
 Maybe we can't put it into words, but we know it when we feel it, eh?
  • + 3
 Good article. Would be really interesting to hear what some of the top guys like Gwin/Hill/Brosnan/etc have to say.
  • + 13
 Gwinn " ride chainless"
  • + 5
 It seems that bike set up is huge for Gwin looking back to when he first joined specialized to now...
  • + 5
 Sam Hill "nah"
Actually he would probably say ride "fast and loose"
  • + 4
 Hold'r wide and let'r slide
  • + 1
 I never change my bike set up couse i dont really know how....

Where could i found that thecnical information of what each part of my fork/shock do and how those small turns can change the performance of these componentes?
  • + 2
 Experiment on a familiar (relatively easy) section of trail that you don't mind hiking back up. Turn your rebound all the way down and ride the section. Hike back up, turn your rebound all the way the other way, and ride the section again. It will feel way different. Work at it from there. Once you get rebound figured out, start with your other adjustments.
  • + 1
 Bikerumor had a series of articles on suspension setup.
  • + 1
 Good advice, i will do that, i seek for my forks tuning manual and found videos wich explain what the diferent knobs do. Tanks!!!!
  • + 2
 This is the best article I've ever read on Pinkbike. Can we have some more like this please?
  • + 3
 Great article pb! Keep more articles like this coming!
  • + 1
 PROPS for Fabian. Well said... He wrote this article like Bruce Lee told about CUP OF WATER. "Be like water" Am i wrong !?? xD
  • + 2
 i think for me it often comes down to staying loose on the bike. "Loose is fast, fast is tight."
  • + 3
 my brain move so fast that my body cant keep up and is left behind.....
  • + 2
 Got to have the newest and most expensive bike to be fast it's pretty obvious.
  • + 3
 Great article! Would love to see more like it.
  • + 3
 Ask that chainless guy...
  • + 2
 ask that French dh racer guy, turned rally driver and turned dh racer again, turned endure racer....
  • + 3
 Riding varied terrain often.. And staying off the brakes..!
  • + 1
 Listen to Johnny T... He knows a thing or two about going fast on whatever bike.
  • + 1
 Wear a 10lb camelback for 6 months and then take it off. Worked wonders for me.
  • + 2
 Wear it to work, and in bed, too
  • + 2
 Rachael's end comment reads like porn, pure tease ????
  • + 1
 I go by the saying 'If your in controll your not going fast enough' although that's probably why I crash all the time lol
  • + 1
 Riding with friends that are better than you, having fun just trying to keep up and follow lines.
  • + 1
 1. Ride faster 2. Ride with faster riders 3. Brake less 4. Enduro moar! 5. See 1. simples
  • + 1
 Thanks PB for interviewing some great female riders! Nice tips all round in this piece
  • + 3
 30 psi in your minions.
  • + 3
 Big Cojones!
  • + 1
 F'ing unreal to get this type of insight from this caliber of rider....uuuuhhhhmazing!
  • + 1
 Stay off the internet - No1
  • + 1
 Great tips, sounds healthier than the liquid courage route.
  • + 1
 Haha, Rachel Atherton said "shizzle"...
  • + 1
 Just takes off your brakes. If you ain't crashin' you ain't tryin'!!!
  • + 1
 I'm a little late on commenting this, but great article PB!
  • + 2
 John Tomac = LEGEND
  • + 1
 No chain to win the game.
  • + 1
 get rid of your chain.......
  • + 1
 Ride slow to ride smooth, ride smooth to ride fast.
  • + 1
 Was hoping Fabian would say something about seagulls and fishing trawlers.
  • + 1
 And drink Monster. Sam Hill can't be wrong!
  • + 1
 Just one tip: let off those fcukin brakes. They only slow you down!!!
  • + 1
 tip for crashing maybe
  • + 2
 Cut your brakes
  • + 1
 "Slow and low/ that is the tempo"
  • + 2
 One more pedal stroke!
  • + 1
 Why has nobody mentioned, Skinny Tyres, Drop bars and Lycra!
  • + 3
 That's how tomac went fast in the beginning.
  • - 1
 Look at the people answering. If there was an elite XC guy up there besides Tomac we could have had some actual perspective on XC racing
  • + 1
 The power of BRAAAP! No family or job helps too.
  • + 0
 probably best piece of advice is don't seek out advice on how to be faster on the internet and go ride your bicycle?
  • + 1
 good answers there TH is best 'why would you wanna do that'
  • + 2
 Death grip!
  • + 1
 Big nads help
  • + 1
 ... a bike
  • + 0
 Should have asked Lance Armstrong for his opinion.
  • + 1
 have fun
  • + 1
 Don't use brakes Smile
  • + 1
 No one said Red Bull....
  • - 1
 Rachel said she makes space between her legs when it gets rough! I love this woman.
  • + 1
 Beer . Liquid courage
  • + 0
 Drugs.
  • - 1
 Flat Pedals and Carbon
Below threshold threads are hidden

Post a Comment



Copyright © 2000 - 2018. Pinkbike.com. All rights reserved.
dv65 0.073668
Mobile Version of Website