was the Junior Downhill Coach for the Australian National Team and also coached many of the World’s fastest mountain bike athletes and four World Champions, including Sam Hill. He is currently working with the USA’s Junior MTB Gravity racers, but inside he answers your questions about going faster!
This week Scott answers questions from users Patmcc, Harm0n20, Cork, Spiffy, Olstar, Man0with0stick, Albertp, Samsquamsh
covering everything from how to corner faster, to what that hell white tissue paper is doing up Steve Peat's nose.
asks: What is that tissue-looking stuff that Steve Peat (and some other racers) puts in his nose before his race runs?Hi PatMCC, the white stuff they stuff up Peaty's nose is actually beer froth. As he warms up, so does the beer in his belly, as well as reacting with the carbon dioxide produced from exercise. The froth gets forced out of his nose! But seriously, it is a product to ‘open up’ the airways. Most studies suggest that it doesn’t really have an impact on performance as the human body can get more than enough oxygen through regular breathing of normal air, even at full exertion. But having said that, there is something ‘stimulating’ about breathing in Menthol, Eucalypt, or similar products.
asks: Scott, what exercises do you recommend for strengthening the forearms and hands enough to deal with riding steep, rocky and technical lines?Hi Harm0n20. It seems that most of the bloggers out there are happy to do some cross training in the bedroom (What is the most sensitive part of the body while jerking off? Your ears). Just be careful that you don’t get RSI – repetitive stain injury. You need to exercise your arms, hands and fingers without resistance, as much as you need to exercise with load. I mentioned fingers, a lot of the ‘blown forearms’ feeling comes from clinching your fingers/fist on the handle bars. Strength comes from muscles, muscles need blood (for oxygen, nutrients and waste removal), if muscles are clinched for too long, the blood supply can be restricted for too long and the muscles can become useless. Learn to release/rest your grip on the bars occasionally. Get the right sized grips, set your brake levers in the correct place. Do some kind of manual exercise. Ride moto. Check your suspension set up and function.
Scott has been the Junior Downhill Coach for the Australian National Team and is currently working with the fastest Junior MTB Gravity racers in the USA - Now he's here to help YOU go faster!
asks:I'd like some advice on how much to practice a track over a race weekend. I think that I practice too much and get worn out before I race, but at the same time I want to know the track very well. Do you have a routine that you recommend following during a race weekend? Ie. course walk, a few easier runs on day 1, one fast practice run at race pace on race day? I feel that if I had a routine instead of blindly doing 700 runs throughout the weekend that I'd be better off...Hi Corky, it is a common problem, minimizing fatigue is a skill. It would help if you were fit to start with. A fat bastard full of soda pop, prailine, and dick flavored pop tarts is going to get really tired. But even then there are some tricks. Remembering the track can be done without riding the track - some people draw maps, some video, others just practice the art of remembering. When you walk the track, it helps if you engage your brain. With a bit of practice you can remember a track after seeing it once. Once you are on the bike, conserve energy. Don’t waste runs following your buddy mindlessly. If the track is long, break it into sections and stop to let the body rest to refocus. A basic plan would involve a healthy breakfast, a warm up, a walk of the track with the intent to learn, minimum amount of runs, done in such a way to not ruin you. At the end of the day, do a full run to see how it feels to link it all together and how much energy it will take. Keep up with the fluid intake, and eat some healthy snacks. Warm down and rest.
asks:I seriously have trouble when it's really muddy during a race weekend. I don't know what it is, but it seems like anyone I could keep up with in the dry can murder me in the mud! Besides mounting some proper mud tires and practice, is there anything that I can do for myself or my bike to make me go faster in the nasty?Practice, practice, practice. If you can't find real mud to train in, then just accept defeat... Is it the mud that is the problem or the wet roots and rocks? Be sure, because your suspension set up would be different for each scenario. Sam Hill does OK in mud, which is unusual given he lives in the desert. But he does get to practice on a slippery surface. Find a slippery surface so you can get some time getting accustomed to the feeling of ‘semi control’. Next time it rains, don’t stay at home and work on you forearm strength, get wet.
asks: How does one put the other racers and crowds to the back of one's mind on race day in order to avoid the butterfly feeling effect and stay focused on the task at hand?Butterflies are normal, that means you are alive. It’s what you do with it that matters. Learn to love the feeling, find power in it, Superman. You need to practice your focus. If your thoughts wander off to things that don’t matter, you need to find things to occupy your thoughts that do matter. Ie, think about the track, the actions, your pedaling, your braking etc… Think about the functions required to get down the hill.
asks: Does red really make you go faster?Man with stick, red will make you go faster if you are a bull, or if you are scared of blood and a big bleeding leper was chasing you, or if you were riding a Ducati or driving a Ferrari. You've got nothing better to do than ask stupid questions? Why don’t you go wash the dishes. Although, just in case you are serious, which is highly unlikely, some studies suggest that red is the most emotionally intense color and that it increases heart rate and breathing rate. This could be helpful.
asks: What is the best way to work on faster cornering?HI Albert, I recon you could guess my answer. Practice, practice and practice. Try and add up how many corners you did yesterday? I recon even on a good day, for most DHers, they would only do 80 corners. And probably blow half of them because of speed control, or butterflies, or sore right forearms. Isolate what you are trying to practice and do it with focus and conviction. Rehearse proper technique, video your efforts, and repeat on varying surfaces until you really feel things fall into place. Then do it again every other day for the next 3 months. And do it faster and faster until you feel the magic ‘drift’. Once your bike is set up properly, and you have a good set of tires, Schwalbe seem to be all the rage, then you need to find proper weight bias. Find the right place for your body weight - low, and centered. Not enough weight at one end of the bike will let a tire skate across the surface, but too much weight means the other end of the bike is too light. Depending on the surface, too much weight will push the tire through the surface and cause a drift. It is not a 100% rule, but the outside foot should be down, inside foot up. The main exception is when the terrain is rough and you need your leg suspension with your feet/cranks are level.
asks: Sometimes when I jump a section or clear the gap I'll pull my right foot off my pedal. How can I change this stupid habit?Sam, that sounds like you have a panic button on your ankle. Do you have Tourette's also?
It may not be your fault, there are a few pedal/cleat/shoe combos out there that really do suck. Hang on, are you clipped in? It might be all your fault. Regardless of whether you are clipped in or not, it sounds like you are placing way too much emphasis on lifting with your feet and it seems more like a panic lift. Maybe go back a few steps and practice the basics, a simple bunny hop, un-clipped, go for height and do a lot of practice. Use your arms, hands, forearms.
Scott Sharples has been a professional coach for 10 years now. He has coached a few World Champions, including Sam Hill, and now offers many levels of personalized training depending on your needs. If you are a serious rider who is looking to get faster and more confident you contact him at email@example.com or visit www.RaceBrain.com to sign up.
|We coach athletes across the spectrum of two wheeled sports. Our methodology encompasses how your entire being relates to the big picture of competition. As such, not only do we coach athletes in any discipline, our athletes are invited to cross train in multiple disciplines. Who do we coach? Anyone. The list includes but is not limited to, downhill, XC racers, 'Crossers, roadies, BMXers, triathletes, motocrossers, ISDE, and rally riders. - Scott Sharples |
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