I did a Jedi Knight series with Jen last fall, and she has some follow-up questions — not the least of which is her aching neck.
Hey dude, twins! Whoa! Cool. 🙂
Anyway, I have a new bike (I sort of went weird and got a 96r for xc racing, which doesn’t have much to do with anything other than the fork is pretty stiff (White Bros magic)). It’s what came with the bike, otherwise I’d probably gone Fox. For most stuff it’s a lot faster and not near so bob-a-licious as my Intense 5.5. But … my god … it’s like my neck is getting whiplash. In fact, I think I pulled my trapezius as it goes up into my neck. I can barely tuck my chin to my chest after riding yesterday — and it was instant and noticeable once I got off the bike.
I remember how you said you don’t want your head to be jerking around because it dorks with your sense of balance (I think that’s what you said). So what can I do??
I can send my fork into White Bros for some custom tuning (while a lot of chicks are lighter, I’m pretty light for this fork). When I called them up they said I had the lowest recommended air in it (50 lbs).
But … is there something else. Do I need a stronger neck/shoulders? What could I be doing … ’cause I know when I let it rip (at least Jen’s version of letting it rip) my head is going WONGA WONGA WONGA like a bobblehead. Not just general riding but when I land after going over a small ledge or whatever. I’ve also been stressing the heck out of my triceps. :-0!
You should not be suffering like that. There are probably several factors. We’ll start with the least important and work our way up:
Jen’s face has been blurred for privacy, but her good form (and ferocity) are obvious. You have it — now relax and let it flow.
Your whole bike should fit your body and riding style. Seat position, handlebar position, handlebar width, rear suspension, front suspension, everything. Find a great local bike mechanic.
Regarding that fork:
Definitely make sure it’s tuned for your body and riding style. As I recall, you’re small but fierce. That combination often requires custom tuning.
I try to be brand agnostic, but I have to say this: I’ve ridden that White Bros. fork, and I was not exactly impressed. As I recall, you have a good job. You do not have to compromise with your equipment. If you can’t make the White work for you, upgrade your fork and send it to a tuner. I suggest PUSH and DirtLabs here in Colorado.
As I recall, you are not weak. We can always be stronger, but I think you need to be more supple. Keep reading.
You already know:
– Ride with heavy feet and light hands.
– Insulate your head from the terrain by keeping your hands and feet moving with the terrain.
– Never brace. Actively pump. Smoothly absorb. The whole world is a pump track.
I love this photo, because it shows me in a rare moment of total quiet. I’m hauling mail over rocks, but I’m totally relaxed and confident. I wish I could conduct the rest of my life like this.
As I also recall, you are a full-on Type A overachiever. You’re a perfectionist, and you’re hard on yourself. (Hey, I’m qualified to make that observation 🙂
I’m gonna guess that you are over-doing most everything. That you’re carrying tension, and that you’re forcing the issue. Forcing a perfect attack position. Bracing against impacts.
You MUST relax and let it flow. Easier said than done. Suggestions:
– Slow down until you feel no stress.
– If the trail itself stresses you, find an easier one.
– If your riding partners stress you, find mellower ones.
– Change your expectations. Forget about going fast and dominating the trail. Focus on smoothness. Focus on getting through your rides without tension — and without pain.
– Give yourself some credit. You are fit, and you know how to ride. You are qualified to be out there ripping. There’s nothing to prove — just trails to rail!
The speed will come from there.
Rock it! (In a mellow way …)
Know more. Have more fun!
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