Mini DH tracks are great training grounds for DH racing. Adding a Freelap timing system makes it an even better training tool. I recently acquired a Freelap system, and couldn't wait to try it out. We put a good crew together on one of our local tracks and set out to do some timing!
All photos by Dave Mackie.Sunday morning the Sun was out, it wasn't too cold, another perfect fall day for riding. But we weren't just riding, we are gonna test out our new Freelap timing system. Tyler Gorz and I both bought some watches, I also picked up three poles. John has had a system for a few months now, he has been wanting us to get some watches for a while. Tyler, John and I were the only three with watches but we had a big crew out for the whole day. Ken and Ray Faubert, Tim (Lazer) Coleman, and Dave Mackie came out to ride and shoot some pics.
The first task at hand was to set up the poles properly. Freelap states the detection field as 1.5m, John recommended we keep the poles as close to the rider as possible, just so you are assured to get a reading. Freelap recommends a horizontal mounting for use with MTB, but mine came with the vertical base, so we just have to make due. We had 3 poles with us, that way we could have a split time in the middle of the track, so we can narrow down the spots that we are losing/gaining time. After a few test passes we had some good pole placement. The watches and poles are water resistant so there are no excuses to get out and train in the rain!
Now it was time to ride. We can't have a timing system, a sick track and a bunch of racers riding without having some sort of competition. But this was our first test run, so pride
would be the only thing on the line. This is a short track compared to most DH races, only about a minute long(depending on the rider), down a constant pitch that is steep enough to carry lots of speed, yet the push back up is fairly mellow at only 10 minutes. We decided to just do as many runs as we could all day, and compare our times as we go.
The best part of the Freelap system, is the ease of use, and the portability of the system. Once the poles are set up it's all up the rider and their own stopwatch. To start the timing the rider needs to be positioned in the start field, the rider then pushes the start button on the watch. Once the rider moves from the field the watch starts to count. This makes the timing very accurate and this way the rider can start when they are ready. Other riders on track will not affect the system at all. Because the transmitters just emit a magnetic field that the watch detects, you can have an unlimited number of riders on course at one time without compensating the timing at all. The timing is accurate, and you have your time right when you cross the finish line.
We spent 5 hours hiking and riding the track. John has never ridden here before, so he had some time to get to know the trail, and we pointed out some lines to him so he could gain a few seconds. John ended up leaving after a few hours, he said he was tired from his cyclocross race earlier in the morning (wuss). This was Tyler's track that he had been working on with Ken and Ray for a while now, so he has the most laps under his belt. I have been doing a lot of riding with Tyler lately, so I have spent a bit of time on the track and know it fairly well.
John getting loose!
At the end of the day we can go back and check all our times. The watch can store up to 2000 lap times, and 64 files(each day of training a file is created). We can go back and check our split times to see if certain lines actually gained some time or not. By adding more poles we can break the track up into smaller portions to really break down where the time is gained or lost.
Tyler took the win on his home track today.
1. Tyler Gorz 57"90
split 1- 29"20
split 2- 28"70
2. Darryl Bartlett 1'02"71
split 1- 31"46
split 2- 31"29
3. John Starcevic 1'04"00 (Left before I could get his split times)
Tyler's winning time
Checkers or Wreckers