When I was driving cars on the track there was one thing that pro drivers would always repeat over and over again if you were trying to get lap times down.
“Smooth is fast”
Fast isn’t about who pushes the hardest fundamentally. It is about precision…hitting the apex perfectly…staying flat out when you want to brake…braking at the right moment…
When we are on the ragged edge and out of control everything feels faster than it really is. It is the runs that seem like the go perfectly without drama that really light the trail up. You are working with the bike and the trail and the trail almost seems to disappear. Why is that?
How to get fast on a mountain bike
The truth is when you focus on only being fast…you end up not being fast in most cases. You end up braking late, blowing up turns, hitting features too hard…you know the feeling. It feels like you are about to wreck at any moment but it feels out of control so you think it is blazing quick.
If you really want to get fast…focus on smooth first…and the speed will come. It really is a patience thing. When you focus more on technique like cornering correctly, speed will come with time and it will come quicker than if you focus on speed. Mountain biking is a game of momentum. When momentum is broken you get slower and more out of control.
Here are some thing to keep in mind as you try to increase speed.
- Most mountain bikers brake too often and too early. The really fast guys (think pro DH) brake later and harder for shorter periods. You do not want to be braking in the corner at all. It really goes without saying that you can’t be faster if you are on the brakes all of the time.
- Almost all of your speed is in how you take the corners. In a momentum game…the corners are the momentum killers. You want to be able to rocket out of the apex and keep as much speed as possible on entry.
- Really focus on weighting and un-weighting the bike. The biggest mistake I see people make is riding heavy.
- Look for features you can “skip”. There are certain root beds, rock gardens and other features on the trail that you might be able to bunny hop, manual or hit a rock on the front end to clear completely. One way to smooth out the trail is to not be on it!
- Don’t focus on your time. It is a hard thing to do these days with as much technology we ride with these days but really just focus on technique. If you need to go back and session a section to get better at it and increase your skill level…do it. Some of the best times you can have on a bike is making yourself better and just playing on the trail. That will translate to speed over time.
If you focus on the technique, you’ll wreck less and be faster at the same time.
Image by nejcbole