Saturday, November 29, 2008

How to ride faster...

Over 20 years ago a friend of mine, Mark Langton, who was an editor with Mountain & City Biking called to say that he was down in Escondido, CA (where I lived at the time) visiting the Specialized mountain bike team training camp and would I and my roommates like to take Team Stumpjumper on a mountain bike ride. Well, duh.

So they met at our house and left to tackle the hills of what we called at the time, Elfin Forest. It has since been changed considerably, but the area still has fun riding. The team comprised of Ned Overend, Lisa Muhich, Daryl Price, Elladee Brown, and Paul Thomasburg. I think Sara Ballantyne was a member as well, but might not have been on the ride.

So, we are riding along and get to what was always a pretty nasty descent. It would have been nasty even if we were on suspension bikes, but this was the days prior to any suspension. My buddy Seth and I took the lead on the way down and in one of the hairiest parts, Paul Thomasburg blew by both of us like we were standing still. Bear in mind that this section of trail had what we both considered only one line down. By passing both of us, Paul was using a line that neither of us would have ever considered. What he saw and how he interpreted it is what makes the fastest riders fast. They have the ability to see the trail unlike mere mortals.

Needless to say, I remain impressed with his ability over 20 years later. I've gotten to ride with other riders of his caliber including Mike King and John Tomac and it's their ability to read a trail, process that information, and convert it all into downhill speed that separates the men from the boys.

So, what made me think of all that. I read a bit on bikeradar.com about vision control. If you want to be fast descender on or off-road, you need to read that bit.

(What's playing: Arlo Guthrie Last Train)

No comments: