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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
When I'm racing and towards the end, start getting pretty tired, I really start thinking about my brakes. Using the brakes is wasted energy (IMO) since it creates friction which releases energy in the form of heat and sound. It's energy converted from your hard earn acceleration.

So if I'm on a straight away, and there's a corner coming up, there's two ways to approach it:
-Attack the straightway at full gas, then use your brakes to slow down to make the corner
-Or accelerate to a lesser degree and use your brakes (to a lesser degree), and slow down a bit for the corner

If one accelerates to just to use the brakes more, is that a good thing??
 

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When I'm racing and towards the end, start getting pretty tired,
Sometimes I get tired in the beginning.
I really start thinking about my brakes.
Replace "brakes" with "cheeseburgers."

Using the brakes is wasted energy (IMO)
Fact, not opinion.

since it creates friction which releases energy in the form of heat and sound.
Mostly heat.
It's energy converted from your hard earn acceleration.
Or not so hard earned if you were descending.

So if I'm on a straight away, and there's a corner coming up, there's two ways to approach it:
-Attack the straightway at full gas, then use your brakes to slow down to make the corner
-Or accelerate to a lesser degree and use your brakes (to a lesser degree), and slow down a bit for the corner

If one accelerates to just to use the brakes more, is that a good thing??
You're overthinking this.
 

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You're overthinking this.
This. However, accellerating harder=higher speeds=less time between two corners=faster finishing time.

More important is braking and cornering technique. Brake early, then accelerate through the turn (when possible). Lean the bike and not yourself (usually, if the corner has a lip to it this is less important).
 

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depends how long the race is. if its a short track, a 'cross race, or a race without much climbing, i'll accelerate up to and brake into every corner, and accelerate back out. If it's a longer race where i need to conserve energy, i'll stop pedaling well before the corner and coast through. i also work a lot on maintaining high corner speed skills.

you've got the right mindset- touching the brakes is throwing away watts. the only way to add more energy to the system is through your legs. how many watts can you afford to throw away?
 

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When I'm racing and towards the end, start getting pretty tired, I really start thinking about my brakes. Using the brakes is wasted energy (IMO) since it creates friction which releases energy in the form of heat and sound. It's energy converted from your hard earn acceleration.

So if I'm on a straight away, and there's a corner coming up, there's two ways to approach it:
-Attack the straightway at full gas, then use your brakes to slow down to make the corner
-Or accelerate to a lesser degree and use your brakes (to a lesser degree), and slow down a bit for the corner

If one accelerates to just to use the brakes more, is that a good thing??
It all depends Do you have enough legs and lungs left or not....

Almost always the person carrying the most speed leaving the obstacle will be the faster person......

That sometimes means more braking and then acceleration...but certainly not all the time...

If you are really out of gas, a smooth ride may result in a faster overall time...then if you brake and then accelerate...(cause you just can't accelerate very well).

so I guess we are back to what technique will result with you leaving the obstacle the fastest.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
you've got the right mindset- touching the brakes is throwing away watts. the only way to add more energy to the system is through your legs. how many watts can you afford to throw away?
That's EXACTLY what I'm thinking.

But it really does depend on race situation. In a short dual slalom, no one is saving anything. In a 7 hour endurance race, the accelerations must be treated very, very different. Over-accelerating and over-braking can be really bad.

It reminds me of "hypermiling" or "Zen-driving" a car (minimal braking and accelerating). It leaves the most gas in the tank in the long run.
 

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mnoutain bkie rdier
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That's EXACTLY what I'm thinking.

But it really does depend on race situation. In a short dual slalom, no one is saving anything. In a 7 hour endurance race, the accelerations must be treated very, very different. Over-accelerating and over-braking can be really bad.

It reminds me of "hypermiling" or "Zen-driving" a car (minimal braking and accelerating). It leaves the most gas in the tank in the long run.
You probably already know this, but...

Set your corner speed BEFORE the corner begins.

Skidding or late braking around the turn is not efficient with regards to conserving watts/speed..
 

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I think what you are getting at is

"Some times you gotta ride slow to go fast." Braking late and sprinting out of turns is not always, actually rarely is, the fastest way down a descent. You are better served to focus on carrying speed through the corners.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Stirling Moss' theory on braking and cornering was drive as fast and deep as you can into the corner and brake hard at he last possible moment...but he had a 278 hp Mercedes...and I doubt he ever raced a singlespeed mountain bike.
Exactly. It's a big difference when you're the engine, with limited matches to burn.

Most of my regular XC races push 2.5 hours and most times I prefer to save those matches for those stupid 1000 foot ascents. But I'm also very aware of breaking on the uphills as well. There will be little switchbacks and undulations during long climbs and i want to conserve as much forward momentum as possible. No brakes, ever!!!
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 · (Edited)
You are better served to focus on carrying speed through the corners.
Yes. I don't care if your a beginner or top pro........one can never corner fast enough. Everyone wants more cornering speed.

Also, the more speed you carry through corners, then the less one needs to accelerate after the corner. Seems that corners are really the big limiter for overall downhill speed.
 

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On the subject of cornering, I have a 10.7km loop that takes me 40-45 minutes to ride depending on which tires I'm using. There's a lot of tight corners and off-camber parts plus short but sharp uphills that suck the spring out of your legs real fast. If I'm riding my Conti Race King tires I can't carry as much speed through the corners (tires slide out) and end up burning more energy to get back up to speed, laptimes end up at 44-45 minutes and I'm completely toast at the end. I also can't think of any way to take more than 10-15 seconds off my times.

With my Mountain Kings I can just stuff the bike through the corners as hard as I dare so I find myself pedaling less and actually going faster. I'm averaging a bit over 40 minutes and if I can grow the balls to hit some key corners & sections faster (the tires are holding fine, but it scares me silly) I think I can take another 30-60 seconds off my time without too much trouble. The Race Kings are faster on the straighter sections of the loop but not nearly fast enough to make up all the time they lose in the corners.

Granted, no race course I've ever seen is as tight, twisty, and off-camber as my test loop so the time gains from improved cornering won't be as dramatic, on the other hand the distance is at least twice as long so there's still a lot of time to be gained in the turns.
 

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I like to stay in my rhythm of efficient flow. Flow through the course with as little energy wasted. Save that ATP and use it when you need to attack or counter.

As for your scenario, a couple pedal kicks will do to keep your speed up. Use it efficiently. Pump the ground where you can and pick smooth and fast lines. Only use the brakes you need to get around the turn without wrecking. Feel the flow. Embrace it. Win.
 

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Exactly. It's a big difference when you're the engine, with limited matches to burn.
Mmm.... but the mechanics of cornering are the same regardless of the engine. It's all about carrying as much momentum through the turn as possible. if you're buring a match in a corner, then you're braking to much before the turn.

If you're talking about hammering the straightaway, then that's all about the engine. If you have the gas left in the tank, and it's a wise tactical move to get to the corner first then by all means, go for it.

Most of my regular XC races push 2.5 hours and most times I prefer to save those matches for those stupid 1000 foot ascents. But I'm also very aware of breaking on the uphills as well. There will be little switchbacks and undulations during long climbs and i want to conserve as much forward momentum as possible. No brakes, ever!!!
On a climb, there are very few instances where you would actually need to hit the brakes.

Going back to the original post, there is no right answer. Each race situation is different and can lead to a different race tactic. There are situations where killing that straight into a hard corner absolutely makes sense to do. there are other instances where it's not wise to burn that match.

In all situations, however, the quickest way to the finish line is always to ride faster. The straights and the turns are both part of your race. The catch is that hammering a straigh away is not always the smartest way to race - but sometimes it is. Striking a perfect balance between all aspects of your race is every racer's quest and it only comes with experience. I've been racing in one way or another since grade school and I still can't even tell you what pgenerally works for me, let alone what is right in a given situation. I can give you ideas on what might work in a given situation, but even then, things evolve as they're happening which could make the answer completely different. The best advice is to go out there and race. experiment. see what works. nobody here can tell you what works best for you personally.
 

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mnoutain bkie rdier
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Another HUGE advantage is to gain familiarity with each and every corner AKA pre-ride. DH pros will literally do a tricky turn over and over until they nail it... no reason for us XC guys to do otherwise if time permits..

I get faster and faster in the corners every time I ride the same course/trail..:thumbsup:
 

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Racing means your goal is to minimize the time it takes you to finish the course. It takes extra energy to do so, which means more of it coming out the brakes.

If your goal was different, say to minimize the energy waste, you'd have to minimize drag and any inefficient energy conversions.

It's all about the goal, it takes some giving to reach it, no matter which goal you choose.
 

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As you said, you worked hard to earn your velocity - why throw it away earlier than you have to? That means braking as late as you can is going to be faster.

Let's say you can carry a given speed, 10mph, through a turn. So you're asking if you should start slowing down earlier (or not accelerate as much) in order to do less braking. As far as getting through that turn goes, it doesn't matter. As long as you're doing all you're braking before the turn, and entering that turn at the same speed, how much or where you start braking makes no difference in actually making the turn, as long as you're at 10mph when you enter.

However, by not accelerating as much, or braking earlier, then you've given up time on the straight. The longer the straight, the more time you're giving up. So unless it's a matter of conserving your energy, you want to accelerate as hard as you can and get up to speed as quickly as possible, then hold that speed for as long as possible.

Late braking is even more critical if someone is trying to pass you. If you lengthen your braking zone, you're giving that competitor an easy pass if they start braking later.

There's a reason that racecar builders keep trying to stop their cars faster and shorten the braking zones - it allows them to carry speed longer, and gives competitors less time to pass under braking.

Here's the disclaimer: I haven't won any MTB races. But that's due primarily to having a motor that doesn't work so well uphill and a small fuel tank.
 

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I have not done an XC race yet, but I have been racing cars on road courses for 10 years. Low hp cars to be specific. When racing a car with little hp you have to learn to preserve momentum. That means you learn to use the least amount of brakes possible. However in car you want to be either on the gas or on the brakes never coasting because that is slow. So they key to nail the corner to be fast and never slow down.

In bike racing you have both limited hp and limited fuel in the tank. One trick racers do to save fuel is to be smooth in acceleration and decel. They may roll out of gas a little early before turn in, but are still on it hard on corner exit. There is more time lost on accel vs giving up a little at the end of a straight. Remember if you are 1 mph faster through a corner and can accelerate 5 mph on exit then you will be 1 mph faster down the next straight by using the same power as before. Now rolling off the power on corner entry will give up lap time doing this, but often time a few tenth slower laps can be converted to on less pit stop for fuel. So if you must save energy best to do it at the end of straight and corner entry than corner exit.

Point is that it is situational, but generally if you don't need to slow down as much things go better. The risk is flying off track/trail and recovering from that can cost you alot more than you gain. To me wasting energy is overslowing. Slowing down more that required and this where pre-riding can help. Even on my regular trail rides I know that I am always faster on my 2nd run on a trail simple due to having some idea of where the tough spots are and having a better idea of when I need to go slow and when I can maintain speed.
 
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