We aren’t pros, so thinking that we are going to pick up World Cup speed by watching the pros is an unrealistic goal. But…by watching the best of the best closely, we can pick up on small changes to make in our riding that will drastically change how we ride the trails we love. The reason that most pros are so fast (outside of natural ability and fitness) is because their skill level and pin point accuracy is spot on. So…the trick is watching their crazy runs and adapting those skills to our riding.
How To Get Fast By Watching Steve Peat
I think there is a common misconception out there that suspension is on your bike to soak up all of the hits and that makes you faster. In reality, that is not true as you pedal through the rough stuff on your local trail. If you watch Steve Peat, Sam Hill or any other pro (this includes the XC racers), the fastest line and technique is up and over the rough sections of trail instead of plowing through it. This is independent of how much travel your mountain bike has.
The trick is to use your suspension to gain necessary grip and pop to create flow on the trail. If you watch the video below from Seasons, you can see that Steve Peat is looking for the fastest line up and over obstacles instead of plowing his 10″ travel V10 through them.
By pumping your bike and unweighting through sections, you can increase speed and exert less abuse on your body. I see a lot of riders take the technique of plowing when compressing the suspension before the rough section, unweighting the bike and gliding over the rough sections would be faster, safer and conserve more energy for the rest of the trail.
Some Personal Experience To Illustrate The Point
Over this past weekend, a group of us hit up an old trail in north Georgia that is one of my favorites. Bull Mountain is mountain biking how I remember it 12 years ago…not groomed and machine cut…but hand cut, rutted out, technical mess that begs you to hit it harder with each pedal stroke. I grabbed the Specialized Enduro review bike anticipating a great, technical downhill run.
As we hit the run, my complete focus was on my line and weighting and unweighting the bike to skip over roots, rocks and other trail features that want to bounce me off my line and slow the bike down. I just kept repeating…”keep that rear tire up” in my head and the result was the fastest I have ever run that section in all of my years in mountain biking. Everything flowed perfectly. Well…almost. Mis timed a gap and hit the ground pretty hard half way through but I was running on the edge so it was almost expected at some point.
The point…the lighter I kept my bike on the trail, the faster and more controlled the ride was. It was not until I made a mental mistake that there was any loss of control or speed.
As you ride that favorite section of DH that you dream about at night, focus on keeping the bike lighter on the trail and press it into smoother sections for grip and speed. The more you focus on that element of your riding, the more controlled and faster you will end up being. You won’t be Steve Peat, but you might light up your buddy when he wasn’t expecting it.
I founded Bike198 back in 2007 and started riding bikes seriously in 1994. A lot has changed since that time and one of the greatest releases is still getting out on the bike and shredding trail or tearing up the road.