Recently, we put out a post on oursocial channels asking, 'What's the WORST piece of mountain bike advice you've been given? We then posted the top five worst suggested pieces of advice as a poll on our Instagram Storiesasking if the advice was true or false to use. Some of you were on the right track, and some of you weren't. They weren't trick questions, though - the answers were all false because they're techniques that aren't correct due to the decrease in rider safety and understanding about what we're doing on our bike. These posts received a lot of engagement, so we'd love to dive a little deeper to help you understand why these pieces of advice aren't great to be sharing or using.
Starting with "Just go faster to clear something."
Speed can be a helpful tool on the trails until it's not. Just 'increasing' your speed is definitely not the answer to clearing something.
Sure, they are many features that demand a certain minimum speed to safely clear them (i.e. gap jumps). But what I'm talking about is why simply just increasing the speed is not the answer for most situations.
With increased speed comes greater forces working against us on the bike. For example, pressure or push back from the transition of a jump or the apex of a corner. With greater speeds comes a higher demand for a stronger foundation and strength on the bike to manage the increase in pressures. An unskilled or inexperienced rider may not be capable, comfortable or strong enough to handle the increase in forces and pressure.
With increased speed comes more opportunity for a loss of control of the bike—for example, a chunky or technical section of trail. You'll get bucked around and lose your line of choice, forcing you into a reactive mode versus proactively riding it and maintaining control. My mantra is 'slow is smooth. Smooth is fast.'
It also increases the opportunity to overshoot the landing of a feature. I'm sure you can all imagine the consequences of this. The bike and body find their limit with the increased compression when landing, and the chances of yard-sale-ing skyrocket.
Often, too many riders rely on speed to get them through obstacles and sections of the trail instead of building the proper skills and techniques first. Remove the speed, and can you still maintain balance? Trackstands are a great tool for developing your balance on the bike and eliminating the demand for speed to balance.
Next time you're thinking to just go faster to conquer something, take a step back and reassess. Do you have the required fundamental skills, bike handling skills, experience and strength to safely ride it? Remember, speed is our friend until it isn't.
If you're struggling with riding features and obstacles that require more speed, book a Private Lesson to build or refine the fundamentals involved. The end result will increase your confidence and safety on the bike, allowing you to progress to greater speeds.
Find out more on our Private Lessons and how to book here.