Last weekend, I raced the Catalan’duro, a local enduro race organised by the Catalan’s Team VTT around the small village of Corbère. It was a great sucess with more than 300 racers at the start, ready to ride flat out on the 6 technical AND physical stages… enduro as it should be!
Race over, I went online hoping to find that elusive photo of me shredding a turn Sam Hill style…I didn’t find it ! But I couldn’t help noticing quite a range of positions amongst my fellow racers… professional habit I guess !
So here’s a little selection of photos with a short analysis, I hope it will help you improve your flat corner skills and also answer the classic question : « tuition for my kids/partner, sure but why would I get some when I am already a racer? ».
All shots are from the same corner (stage 6), after a big step so you would get there with plenty of speed… and exhaustion (last stage) !
NB : if you are one of the racers on these photos and don’t want it published here, let me know and I’ll delete it ASAP (they were already on FB though).
To make a bike turn at speed, the most effective way is to lean it, which means that the rider must find a position which allows him/her to lean the bike without losing balance but also keep enough freedom of movement to manage the pressure of the tyres on the ground.
Ex1 : the top half of the body is commited to the corner (good eye anticipation), but the bike is still standing up, it’s not turning and the rider is going to have to hit the brakes which might compromise his balance.
What to do ? Lean the bike in by streching the inside arm.
Ex2 : Foot out without a need for it, the bike is standing up and is not going to slide here… even less turn ! The rider can’t use his legs anymore to push on the pedals or accelerate… you can actually see a bit of panic in his eyes !
What to do ? Keep the feet on the pedals and better anticipate the braking to avoid coming into the corner too fast.
Ex3 : The upper body is facing the outside of the corner, the hips are leaning with the bike, the rider isn’t in a balanced/comfortable position but also can’t put pressure efficiently on his outside pedal/tyres, it is also limiting how much he can lean the bike in.
What to do ? Push the backside out so the hips are facing the exit of the turn and end up above the outside pedal .
Ex4 : Knees hugging the top tube stop the rider from leaning the bike but most of all he can’t use his legs to « work » the terrain.
What to do ? Spread the knees to let the bike move, have some room to lean it and unlock the leg joints.
Ex5 : The position isn’t bad if you consider that the rider is about to lean his bike… and stop staring at the photographer! His outside pedal is too low, too early though. In this position, you can’t use your legs to absorb the bumps of the ground or put pressure on the rear tyre for to brake better, also, the large amplitude isn’t necessary here and is going to slow down how quickly the rider can pedal again.
What to do ? Keep the pedals level until the bike is getting into the turn… stop looking at the camera!
Ex6: Geoffrey Buisan, from the Intense Les Angles DH team, has been cutting his teeth at the DH World Cup this year. You can clearly see how much he his leaning the bike, the head upright, the upper body facing the exit, hips above the outside pedal, right knee pushing against the top tube for extra stability and the outside pedal sligtly lower… it went so fast that the photographer missed his head!
What to do? Duck your head down!
Ex7 : Sylvain Buisan, Geoffrey’s cousin and teammate. The position is a tiny bit more « new school », the bike is still leant a lot, the head still up and looking for the exit but the body is leaning with the bike a bit more and the feet more leveled, one can imagine that Sylvain has let the bike sled into the small rut and his about to push hard on both legs to exit the corner even faster than he came in !
What to do ? Shout « braaap » !!
Now, it’s your turn ! Grab your bike, find a flat open space (preferably grassy, it won’t sting as much if you push it too far!) and link a few turns. Try to film/photograph yourself or get a friend to and compare with the above shots…how low can you go ?!
The wet weather this July hasn’t stopped us from riding, but the conditions do take their toll on the bike and the rider. Here are a few tips which should make your muddy rides easier for you and your steed… you might even start to prefer it!
Adapt your kit, a rain jacket + trousers will keep you reasonably dry (make sure not to over dress underneath to avoid condensation) and most of all will keep your clothes clean… your washing machine will be thankful for it! To clean your rain kit, hose it down before taking it off and Bob’s your uncle!
What we use: Patagonia Torrentshell jacket + trousers
Keep the extremities warm, Merino wool socks are a must and a pair of neoprene gloves (not too thick) will make a big difference when the temperature drops.
What we use: Seal Skinz socks, Mavic Cyclone gloves
Keep your vision clear, it’s the biggest problem and unfortunately, there isn’t a perfect solution, but a dry clean cloth kept in your sleeve will allow you to wipe your glasses/goggles every time you stop.
Do not hose your muddy shoes or they will never dry again! Just let them dry (you can stuff them with newspaper) and then brush the dry mud off.
Use the right lubricant, use a wet conditions lubricant before you go out. A silicon lubricant applied to your frame (kept away from the brakes!) will stop the mud sticking on it… at least for a while! After your ride, lube every nook and cranny of your bike (transmission and suspensions of course but also suspension knobs, shifters, brake levers,…).
What we use: Muc Off Wet Lub and GT85
A small mudguard under the arch of your fork will keep most of the projection away but will also protect your fork’s joints.
What we use: Marsh guard
Mud tyres make a massive difference! If you don’t have the budget or if you need to pedal, change just the front tyre, you will feel a lot more in control.
What we use: Maxxis Wet scream or Specialized Hillbilly
You can make a small “cover” for your rear brake caliper to stop the mud getting in (mud means pads wearing more quickly and pistons getting dirty), I personally use some blister plastic (Hope’s brake pads do a great job!)
Here is a posh example :
photo by: my-new-stuff.com
Choose different lines from usual to avoid the biggest obstacles (roots, ruts,…), don’t be afraid of staying away from the most obvious line to find “clean” spots to brake and turn.
Keep some pressure on your front wheel to get the most grip out of it.
Keep your braking smooth.
Stay loose on the bike.
Speed is (still) your friend! If you ride too slow, your tyres are going to clog and you won’t move at all anymore… remember to keep your braking smooth though!
Well equipped, riding in the mud is fun… and there’s only one way to get better at it – get out and ride!!
As the (very happy) owner of a beautiful Turner DHR, I was looking for a chainstay protection up to par …. Not an easy job when you consider the shape of the swingarm (there is a machined part near the crankset which is very difficult to cover) and the anodised finish of the frame (normal stickers don’t stick), not finding an efficient solution I ended up with a couple of marks but most of all, quite a noisy bike! After a bit of research, I found out that the top World Cup mechanics are using a tape made by 3M and described as “rubber mastic” (ref. 2228). This thing comes in different length and widths, sticks to anything (the easiest way to get rid of it on a bike would be to sell the frame), is kind of soft/sticky so can be moulded around shapes, is light and slim and most of all, shock absorbant! A perfect silencer for my weapon of choice.
Here are a few thoughts about the gears we are riding with, no technical/marketing descriptions here (check the brand’s websites for that), but the result of 3 month (at least) of riding by any type of weather…
Fiveten Freerider Zebra
For those who still haven’t heard about Fiveten, they are cycling shoes whom soles are made out of a special sticky rubber giving them a crazy grip over flat pedals… to the point that it made me swap my good old SPD for flats after 10 years of use !
The Freerider is lighter, more breathable and leaner looking then the Impact or Karver, I like to use them when there is a bit of pedalling involved. Good news is the side of the shoe is know one part with the sole, stopping it falling apart like on the firsts models.
My only” problem” with it is that the sole is not as stiff as the other’s models, making it a bit uncomfortable on very long rides. It does give a better feel out of the pedals though, those used to Vans type shoes will appreciate.
After 3 months of use there isn’t one stitch gone, brilliant!
Evoc Freeride Tour
Evoc is a German company offering backpacks with integrated back protector. The Freeride Tour is the biggest model of the range (30l), perfect for multi days rides or those who like to carry their whole tool box with them (like me). There are one flashy colour and one more stealth one per model.
The bag is extremely well thought out and built, full of handy pockets (tools, sunglasses, water bladder, etc…), integrated rain protection, sitting very well on the back… you can tell its designers rides!
Watch out for your pedals when carrying your bike on your shoulders, the mesh is a bit fragile, apart from that, it’s a tough one!
Gamut Dual ring
Last addition in the range, this system is designed to stop your chain jaming when using a double ring setup. Very light and well finished, the installation is very easy.
The bearings died very quickly (a couple of weeks) and I’m not convinced the step on the roller is very useful (the chain is grinding on it sometimes), but I didn’t lost my chain once and the quietness of it makes you forget it very quickly…job done!
To get the most out of your mountain bike trip to the Portes du Soleil, it’s crucial to have a properly set up bike, so here are a few tips to get the most out of your brakes…
First of all, the position: modern brakes are so good that you can use only one finger to stop but you need to be sure that your finger reaches the end of the lever (to get the maximum leverage) without any effort. To achieve this you will need to move your controls inwards on the bar, then adjust the reach of the lever, either with the dedicated knob (as on the Hope Tech levers) or via the little Allen bolt on the inside of the lever; finally, make sure that the lever angle doesn’t twist your wrists.
Don’t tighten your controls too much, so if you fall they will turn around the bar without being damaged.
Keep at least one pair of spare pads in your backpack.
Don’t forget that heavy braking (the ones that make you skid) are damaging the trails and are pretty useless at slowing you down… and RideAbility is here to help you brake more efficiently!
As promised earlier, here are my first thoughts on the new offering from Fiveten, the Karver.
A few explanations first for those who’ve not heard of Stealth Rubber. Fiveten (5.10), the climbing shoe specialist, changed the little world of mountain biking a few years ago, introducing a sticky (yet resistant to abrasion) rubber to a Mtb shoe range. The grip provided by these shoes on flat pedals is unbelievable, giving you almost all the advantages of clipless pedals without the inconvenience (clipping/declipping can be tricky sometimes).
A big fan of the clipless, I tried the Fivetens last year and have never looked back! The freedom and extra confidence they gave me added loads of fun to my riding.
Last year I tried both the Low and High Impact2 and chose the latter for the protection they give to the ankles… mine are pretty fragile. After 3 months of daily use, the only criticsm I could find about last year’s shoes was that they were a bit heavy/hot when it came to pedalling up and that they were a bit of pain to put on……..
Tah dah! Bring on the Karver… designed by Kris Kovarik, they feature an ankle protection on the crank side and a removable “flap” to cover/hold the laces.
The lower design, gives more freedom around the ankles and an easier fit but still offers good protection. The “flap” is a really cool feature, no need to tuck the laces in the shoes anymore! It’s also more convenient to use than the one you find on Shimano’s. I think I will still use my High Impact for Downhilling though, as I really apreciate the extra hold on the ankles.
If you dig technical trails, go and get a pair, you really won’t be disappointed!
A girls’ version is also available starting at 6.5 US size.
Karver with/without the flap. Difference in heigth betwin the High Impact2 and the Karver.
It’s my birthday today! (I won’t tell you which one), here is one of the wonderful prensents I got:
a DMC Moto Trainer! Can’t wait to fix it on the Turner…
The Moto trainer is a simple stopwatch that you fix on the handlebar. It allows you to time a section of track, try diferent settings… in a word, a superb tool for training!