Not maximum. Optimum.
I dig Dirt’s recent interview with Fabien Barel about Flow (capital F), and I got to use his wisdom today while working with DH champ Alex Willie.
The big takeaways:
• Rather than merely trying to crush individual sections, let’s link them together in one long sine wave of love (my words).
• Let’s learn to use the exact amount of energy (aka pump) required to get the job done. Any less and you’re clipping things, any more and you’re wasting energy and missing backsides.
Pinning it with a pinner:
All winter Alex has been in the gym with me and Erin Carson at RallySport Health and Fitness, doing the Pump Up the Base and Prepare to Pin It training programs, riding moto and keeping his grades up.
Compared with last year — when he won the national Jr. DH title! — Alex is stronger, fitter, faster and smarter. He’s about to hit some big races, including the Fort William World Cup. He’s feeling pressure to “step it up” for his sponsors, family and America.
Today we rode a local technical trail. He schooled me uphill in a serious way (a first — and it shows his training really works), then we talked philosophy and rallied the DH.
The big takeaways;
• Alex is on track. He will grow as a rider, but he doesn’t have to “step it up” or change anything, nor does he have to try to be fast. He is fast.
• We’ve been honing Alex’s technique for a few years now, and he’s a very skilled rider. Right now we are focusing on big, round shapes and optimal pump. Rather than crushing all the way through his suspension then snapping his bike over bumps — sometimes a bit too late — we’re working on a more gradual buildup and release of energy: a longer, lower trajectory (unless he needs to boost over something!).
• He takes his sponsor commitments seriously, and that’s commendable, but when it’s time to ride, the only things that matter are his center of mass and the Earth.
• Um, this kid is fast! Alex, thanks for pulling me down the trail. What a treat.
Big, round, optimal sine waves of love!
And good grades.
Know more. Have more fun!
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Sometimes I think life is one big fantastic mystery to the French.
I enjoy your bike wisdom on a regular basis. This is my first time commenting. Something has been bothering me lately. I’m wondering if all the plyometric-type training and weight lifting that mountain bikers are doing is actually doing that much to improve their bike riding skills. The recent research suggests that lifting weights and doing plyometric exercises(even if they incorporate “bike muscles”)only make you better at lifting weights and better at these specific exercises. There seems to be no significant carry-over to actual bike riding skills(aside from the obvious cardiovascular fitness & overall increase in strength and muscle mass). The most relevant training must mimic the speed of movement that a mountain biker would need while blasting down a DH track. This is difficult to do in a gym. Do you agree that the best training is on an actual bike?
Trey! Sorry this took so long!