Dirt Skills MTB Coaching Part 5: Race Tips
In previous blogs we discussed three basic but vital skills of mountain biking: body position, scanning/trail awareness and cornering; hopefully you enjoyed reading those and took away some useful tips and ideas of how and what to practice. We all know that mountain biking is a dangerous sport, practising basic skills until they become second nature is a great way to safely progress your riding ability, reducing the risk of injury to yourself and damage to your bike.
Practice makes perfect may be a well-worn cliché but taking it to heart may just save you a lot of pain, disappointment and quite possibly some hard earned cash too. It is said that 10 000 hours of “deliberate practice” are required to become world class in any field, that is A LOT of riding!
A great way to rack up some riding hours is to take a riding holiday. Maydena, Derby, Queenstown and Thredbo are all world class riding destinations and none is more than a couple of hours flying time from Brisbane. As we’ve just said, practice is the only sure fire way to improve your skills so why not get some mates together, jump on a plane and check out one of these great destinations? A fun time is guaranteed and you will be blown away by how much your riding has improved after spending a week on two wheels.
All good mountain bike holiday destinations offer the opportunity to book a coaching session with an industry professional; getting some professional advice is a fantastic way to quickly advance your riding. Getting yourself some coaching early in the trip will not only kickstart your local trail knowledge but also give you the maximum amount of time to practice and develop what you have been taught.
Once you return from your trip you may like to challenge yourself even further - taking part in a race may just be the way to do this. If you think this is for you I’ll give you some tips to make entering your first race a little less daunting. Make sure you have your gear ready the night before so you are not having to rush on race morning. Race days are long, take plenty of food and water, canteens usually run and proceeds help fund the events but you don’t want to rely on this. It is always good to arrive early, give yourself plenty of time to register, make sure your timing chip works and know your race plate is looking awesome for any photographers that might be out on track.
Practice your race lines and build speed as you become familiar with the track, many of our local races hold practice days in the weekends leading up the event so try to get along to these, they are great fun and give plenty of time to practice in a no pressure situation.
Racing is exciting so make sure you control your nerves at the beginning of the day. No matter how much pre-race practice you have had, make sure you have at least one sighting lap (DH, not always possible for Enduro). Tracks always look different when they are bunted for racing and sometimes this can catch people by surprise.
If you have any friends thinking about racing, why not bring them along as a volunteer? Without volunteers our local race series will not run so helping at a race is not only a great way for them to see how things roll on race day, but also a great way to make sure that our races are around long enough for them to come and join the fun between the tape!
This is the final instalment of Essential Dirt Skills and to wrap things up I am going to touch briefly on developing our sport to help gain trail access. After all, we will have no places left to practice if there are no local trails left to ride.
In Brisbane we are lucky to have some incredible trails on our doorstep; however with the ever expanding urban jungle this can never be taken for granted. Please show your appreciation for these well maintained, accessible and freely available trails by always leaving them in the condition you find them.
One of the best things we could do to support and promote mountain biking is to build numbers and it would be great if we were all encouraging others to get involved in the sport. Nowadays there are some great quality mountain bikes available at very affordable prices so let’s try to get all our mates on bikes! Mountain bikers are renowned for being a sociable, friendly and welcoming bunch so bring some new faces along to your regular ride, and if you see some new faces out there make sure you offer a smile and a hello.
If you see me out and about, stop and say hi - my van is easy to spot and I’d really appreciate any feedback on this series! If you find your progression is slowing, a lesson or two can be a great way to get back on track, I’d be happy to help with that and you may well find that a few small changes are all it takes to get you up and down the hills faster and more confidently than any of your riding buddies.
ForTheRiders.com and Dirt Skills thank you for taking to time to read ‘Essential Dirt Skills’ and look forward to seeing you and all your new riding mates on the trails soon.
Have fun and ride safe!