Speed is your Friend

Photo credit:  John Shafer

Photo credit: John Shafer

July 6, 2009

Yes, faster riding can often be safer, smoother, more efficient and more controlled!  It doesn't mean that you should "just pin it".  But by letting off the brakes and coasting through the rough areas we can let our bike work for us instead of fighting it.  There are four main reasons for this:

1. Braking tenses those arms which inhibits your ability to use your body to absorb shock.

2. A free rolling wheel rolls smoother over rough surfaces than a braking wheel.

3. By going a little faster wheels don't fall into the holes between bumps (the wheel "skips" from the top of a bump to the top of the next bump)

4. Most suspensions work better with the brakes off.  All of this adds up to a more relaxed body, a smoother ride, less energy expended and more control.  And the better your core skills are (especially vision) the easier this is to do. 

As an experiment find a rough section of one of your local trails (that you've previously mastered) and ride it tentatively with your brakes on. Make a mental note of how rough it feels and how your body feels.  Then try it a few more times slowly increasing your speed (pushing on the limits of your comfort zone, not taking a big leap into your fear zone which will tense you up, defeating the whole purpose) and see if it actually gets a little easier and smoother.  Over a two hour cross country ride or just a two minute punishing downhill section this can make a huge difference.