Go faster to be safer, smoother, more efficient and controlled?

Yes, faster can often be safer, smoother, more efficient and more controlled! I didn’t say the oft-given advice, “just look at it.” I mean, by letting off the brakes and coasting through the rough areas, we can let our bike work for us instead of fighting it. It always amazes me how hard trails feel when I’m training and not going at my normal pace. There are four main reasons for this: 1. Braking makes my arms tense, which inhibits my ability to use my body to absorb shock. 2. A freewheeling wheel rolls more smoothly over rough surfaces than a braking wheel. 3. Going a little faster, my wheels don’t fall into the holes between bumps (the wheel “jumps” from the top of one bump to the top of the next bump) 4. Most suspensions work better without the brakes.

All of this adds up to a more relaxed body, a smoother ride, less energy expenditure and more control. The better your basic skills (especially vision), the easier it is to do. As an experiment, find a rough section of one of your local trails and ride tentatively with the brakes on and make a mental note of how bumpy it felt and how your body felt doing it. Then try it a few more times, slowly increasing your speed (pushing the limits of your comfort zone, not taking a big jump into your fear zone, which will strain you defeating the whole purpose) and see if it really turns a bit easier and smoother Over two hours of cross-country riding or just two minutes of punishing descent, this can make a world of difference.

Don’t be fooled by all the commonly passed down “myths” about driving technique, like “on a steep hill, back up”, which is downright dangerous. Instead, learn the proper, balanced and controlled way to ride and have more fun on the trails.

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