The downhill season is just around the corner and the racers I'm working with are adding the finishing touches to their winter preparation. I met Ben Cathro, George and Henry Kerr at Innerleithen in the Tweed Valley for a day of full downhill runs. The guys were making the most of the Adrenalin Uplift service to make tweaks to their bike set-up and fine tune their skills before their first races of the year this month in Spain and Portugal.
We decided on a track to focus on for the day and used the IXS upper section before traversing into a lower Cresta Run variation. During the first few runs, the goal for the riders is to warm up and get familiar with the track conditions before moving onto the main session goal.
The main session focus was then for riders to be consistent on technical sections while being aware of the pace they were riding at. Pacing and patience are vital for downhill racers, and the key going fast can often be knowing how and when to back off.
Often the pressure of racing the clock can get to a rider, so you need to develop the confidence to back off at the right times to remain in full control. The mantra 'slow is 'fast' is well known, but it takes discipline to commit to that game plan. It is all too common to feel the niggling doubt that you should be riding faster.
How do you feel when you're riding your mountain bike on the downhills? Are you in control or are you pushing past the limit? What do you think offers better results? Do you believe that slow is fast?Photographs - Ian Linton