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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I think we will all agree that following the right person on an unfamiliar piece of trail pays nice dividends.

The other day, though, following a good buddy on some new lines, something very subtle (maybe it's not) occurred to me:

I know his riding so well, that if he makes a mistake, I am almost guaranteed to NOT make a mistake. I'm pretty sure I know what he is thinking.

So much information comes out of the briefest of moments.
We are riding slow rock obstacles along the side of a fast section of trail. I usually just blow past them because there is a short, steep climb just ahead.
Coming in fast then going slow, I often find myself very impetuous. You can't just ram these things. It takes finesse, patience, and timing. A shift in the brain probably moreso than a literal shift in gears.
As I follow, I'm watching his approach.
Front tire placement.
Body position.
What gear.
Crank position.
...he looks wrong, but he might save it.
He stalls and tips off to the left, hopping on 1 foot with the other foot still clipped in.
In the moment before I arrive at the same spot, he drags his rear tire to the side (it was off the line anyway).
I'm more focused knowing that this one caught him.
My front tire placement is a little farther right.
I've added half a crank for just a hair more momentum.
Front tire up!
I nearly stall anyway, momentarily lock brakes so I can lunge the rear tire up and clear my crank.
One good crank.
Lighten the front tire over a groove/ridge.
Roll off the back side.

He would've done it the same way, but probably faster and smoother. It's new. We're still learning it. Next time for sure.

Conversely, if he rides perfect, I am not guaranteed success. :LOL:

On the next obstacle, which he claims to have missed 4/5, he clears a sharp, ~20" ledge up.
Damn. I didn't think that was even the line.
I wasn't paying close enough attention as he just twitched the whole bike up there. No drama.
Planted my bash guard on it, but that's as far as I got.
Next time....

-F
 

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since 4/10/2009
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honestly, I get more out of watching people ride something from a different angle than that. following often leaves me with a poor angle to see what they're actually doing. what following DOES do is help reduce overthinking and gets you to just ride. I know this works for my wife. if she's following pretty close such that she can't really see what's coming in front of me, and I just hit the obstacle, she'll follow and clean it without thinking much. but if there's a bigger gap, or I stop to watch her, the obstacle gets in her head and she overthinks it and usually psychs herself out.

for a tricky spot that's actually challenging me to the point where I need to do mental reps before cleaning it, or possibly get creative with my line choice or timing of things or whatever, following doesn't work so well.

above looking down from the side or maybe a little in front seems to be better, but of course the terrain has to be conducive to achieving that kind of view.
 

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You talking about mimicking. Probably the most effective way to learn to ride. That is why good riders come out of clusters. That skill and style is passed through riders riding together.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
You talking about mimicking. Probably the most effective way to learn to ride. That is why good riders come out of clusters. That skill and style is passed through riders riding together.
This is probably true, but we know there is usually more than one way to skin a cat. Knowing another rider's strengths and weaknesses influences how one might follow - and to what degree one might mimic that rider. There are more than a few riders that I cannot mimic due to skill or physical ability, yet we ride the same stuff, each in our own way. Seeing their approach influences my approach. And the more I know about them, the more useful that information can be.

-F
 

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having someone to ride with that you trust implicitly is a beautiful thing. i've got a riding buddy that's been in my loop so long that i trust him as much as myself, we will often mob sections of the trail, jumps and features side by side trying to pass each other in the air...
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
A secondary aspect of learning by following is also noticing alternate lines - not just how to ride them, but recognizing that they are lines at all. It will open your eyes to soooo many options along the trail.

This is one of my big takeaways from this past weekend in PA. The trail builders seemingly linked boulders and rock features (including bypasses) with interesting lines, resulting in combinations and variety that could only be exhausted after many multiple passes. You'd have to think it couldn't be accidental - suggesting some genius-level interpretation of "trail". I'm saying the trails were so creatively built, that many riders wouldn't even notice some of the options if they didn't have tire tracks on them. We all wised up after awhile to make sure we didn't miss anything. It was like looking for Easter eggs.

-F
 
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