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I have been biking a couple years now, and I wish to improve increase my speed on downhills. I feel that I am always riding in my "comfort zone." What are some of the best ways to improve downhill skills? Thanks
 

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green said:
I need help as well buddy, my experienced friends keep leaving me for dead on the downhills. I think it's my cornering. Sorry I cant help.
I'm the same, and chasing faster riders is one thing that gets me above my comfort speed zone, but does occasionally result in crashes when I get above my ability zone. Plus when you're following another rider, it can help you see the fast line, but it sometimes masks obstacles till it's too late too.
 

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Well there are basically two things you can do to improve your downhill times. The first is pretty obvious--know the course. If you know where the crazy spots are, you can finesse your way through them, know where you ought to jump, etc. I've noticed a huge difference in the way I ride all the local trails now compared to the first time I rode them. The second thing you can do is just increase your fitness level and relexes, and get the best downhill form possible, for me that's leaning so far back over the rear wheel and bashing my way over most things. There was a really excellent article in a recent issue of Bicycle magazine, you may find it online. The gist of it is to push your personal envelople, also, try and use your perihperal vision rather than focusing on the one obstacle that scares you, this actually somehow boosts your reaction time. Of course, good muscle tone also increases reflexes. I think what has helped my speed is focusing on the inside of the curve, regardless of whether it's tight signle track or USFS roads at speed. If you look at the inside of the curve, where you want to go, you'll hold the line a hell of a lot better than if you're looking down a big root you're trying to avoid. If you want to avoid something, look at where you want to go, not where you don't. If you're watching your buddies tire in front of, you're missing out. Remember the old phrase, "keep your eye on the ball?" Well for us mountain bikers it's keep your eye on the line! Look at least 10 to 15 feet in front of you. Don't forget to keep your front wheel weighted and use your brakes when they'll work, not on the soft stuff that'll skid. Use your front more. Turns at speed are scary but are a big place to keep or lose your speed. Also practice your technical skills, like bunny hopping to clear rocks/logs where you feel comfortable, so that when you really need them, they're instinctive. Another trick I learned when riding with better riders than me was to retry sections that you can't clean, uphill or down. This helps more than anything to build confidence and technical skills. Trying any of these should increase your "comfort zone" on the dodgy downhills.
 

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Brake before the corner.
Enter wide, hit the apex, track out. Or if there is a berm, use it.
Get used to controlling your fore/aft weight distribution on the bike
Get comfortable with drifting the bike.
In faster corners point your belly button where you want to go.

Best way to learn is to buy some pads and a full face helmet, drop your seat and spend a summer or two at your local ski resort (assuming you have one) on your XC bike. Most resorts have a lot of tame trails that are great fun on an XC bike. Do the same trail(s) over and over and over and over and over. Perfect your lines as you go.

With corners, slow in, fast out is faster than fast in, slow out. But fast in fast out is the fastest :D .
 

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rocky rooty ride

Steve71 said:
Brake before the corner.
Enter wide, hit the apex, track out. Or if there is a berm, use it.
Get used to controlling your fore/aft weight distribution on the bike
Get comfortable with drifting the bike.
In faster corners point your belly button where you want to go.

Best way to learn is to buy some pads and a full face helmet, drop your seat and spend a summer or two at your local ski resort (assuming you have one) on your XC bike. Most resorts have a lot of tame trails that are great fun on an XC bike. Do the same trail(s) over and over and over and over and over. Perfect your lines as you go.

With corners, slow in, fast out is faster than fast in, slow out. But fast in fast out is the fastest :D .
my problems are in the rocks-n-roots. I can be hauling a$$ on the trail and I see rocks or roots and I just freeze up. It's the only thing keeping me from racing (as a beginner - duh!). I pull up shy like a horse that wont jump. And I refuse to pull that in a race.

I guess I'll get some pads and pick a particular rocky-mt-way and just learn to roll it.

Unless someone can help me with further suggestions.

-capt p
 

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My problem with downhill speed is definitly in cornering. I got a rude awakening on the trail the other day while I was "casually" racing a buddy. I pull him on the uphills, but he's beeping his horn on the downs. I let him go by and he is GONE!
But as far as roots and rocks go, what has worked for me is:
If it's not so big that it'll wreck me, most of the time I just go straight at it. Big wrecks have happened when you try to swerve too fast from an obstacle that isn't that bad. Let your shocks do what you pay them for. Ease your grip, pull your butt up and back and bumpety-bumpety-bump right over them!
 

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fork quality a possible issue??

ecblanks said:
But as far as roots and rocks go, what has worked for me is:
If it's not so big that it'll wreck me, most of the time I just go straight at it. Big wrecks have happened when you try to swerve too fast from an obstacle that isn't that bad. Let your shocks do what you pay them for. Ease your grip, pull your butt up and back and bumpety-bumpety-bump right over them!
I don't want to make it sound like I'm blaming the tool, I'm not. The problem (and answer) is me.

That said, I'm riding a 5 yr old Rock Shox Jett T2. Would upgrading the fork offer signifigant performance and time gains, or is it just a matter of working on technique?

-capt p
 

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capt pearl said:
That said, I'm riding a 5 yr old Rock Shox Jett T2. Would upgrading the fork offer signifigant performance and time gains, or is it just a matter of working on technique?

-capt p
Yep, a good fork (correctly setup) will do much better a speed than that RS fork.

But unless we saw you ride, it's hard to say what is holding you back, you or the fork.

Even the RS fork (if it's in good working order and set up for your weight) should be able to absorb a single 2-3" high root at 10-15 mph with basic technique. However, when the fork comes up against successive hits at speed >15 mph, it will be over taxed. In this situation a good fork with top of the line damping will be night and day over your existing fork.

Hope that helps.
 
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