brake before the turn, smoothly handle the
corner and then accelerate out of it.
The takeaway: Think about exit speed.
KNOW YOUR TRAIL
Every bike has a limit when it comes to
braking power. Everything from contact
patch to pad compounds to rotor size
comes into play. What really makes a
difference, though, is how that equipment
works with the trail surface you’re on. The
fastest riders out there know how to read
terrain to brake on the best surfaces possible, where their tires will have the most
traction to slow down. It may be obvious,
but we’ll say it anyway: bikes don’t slow
down as well when the trail is loose and
dusty or when it’s wet and muddy. That
said, it’s a skill to be able to spot the
places in those conditions where your tires
will hook up and brake more effectively
instead of skidding through a turn.
The takeaway: Brake on the right
There’s no better way we know of to
immediately increase your speed than to
look farther down the trail and let your
brain go on autopilot to handle the terrain
that’s right beneath your front wheel. That
way, you can see obstacles coming at you
much earlier and be ready for them. It’s
as easy as reminding yourself every few
minutes to simply bring your eyes up and
look a few feet farther down the trail. Soon,
this will train your body to be ready for the
“new normal” speed.
The takeaway: Farther is faster.
SLOW DOWN, BRO!
If you feel like you’re riding too fast, you
are, and it’s only a matter of time until it
catches up with you. Crashes hurt. Use
those brakes, and ride at a safe speed.
There’s no prize for the fastest guy on the
group ride, but there is a heck of a big
deductible to pay for the guy who goes
cartwheeling off the trail because he was
going too fast.
The takeaway: Be safe, bro. ❏
Back, but not
too far: While it’s
necessary to move
weight back on any
descent, you don’t
have to go so far as
to buzz your butt on
the rear tire. A more
will give you more
No skid zone: Yes, it’s
a cool trick to skid, but
it won’t make you any
faster. Rather than sliding
your tires down the trail,
focus on controlling your
speed without ever
locking the wheels.
Setup is key: Finding the right place to
put your levers so they’re easy to use is
critical. It can prevent hand fatigue and
maximize your leverage and control.