What Single Piece of Advice Would You Give the Aspiring Racer?

6/10/2016 2:58pm Edited Date/Time 6/21/2017 7:12pm
With World Cup season in full swing, it's safe to say we all have racing on our minds. I personally haven't raced for years but when I did, I was always hungry for tips on training, race routine, mental preparation, etc... Aside from the "remember to have fun" typical response, what single bit of knowledge would you pass down to the newb aspiring racer?

Personally, I'd tell them to find the lines that work best for them and NEVER change your line just before your race run without having the chance to practice it first.

I've personally known that advice as long as I had been racing, but I ignored it a few times and every time I did, it ended up costing me big.



Photo Credit: Dan Severson
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AGR97
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6/10/2016 3:44pm
As an 18 year old who is planning to eventually race World Cups as the overall goal I feel this post applies to me greatly. Thanks for posting this dude!

The best piece of advice I've had so far is to treat your race run like just another practice run. As soon as you start trying to pin it you end up making mistakes and crashing. Sometimes 90% is better than 110%, as Chris Kovarik so elegantly put it to a friend of mine: "Go slow to go fast you dickhead not the other way round"

Fabien Barel has some amazing insight on this, I encourage any young rider to watch this video. https://dirtmountainbike.com/news/two-time-dh-world-champion-fabien-bar…

There's probably a better way to link this video there but sadly I'm no tech wiz. Looking forward to some good advice on here!
6/10/2016 6:15pm
There's this guy who does mtb-related podcasts on iTunes, and he interviewed Eliot Jackson a few weeks back. So many great tips coming from a guy who has "made it".

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BrianBuell
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6/10/2016 6:32pm
The best advice that comes to my mind at the moment that I have received from a proven winner(GM) was this: When approaching your race run, break down the course into shorter courses, this will create attainable goals and will make a track like Fort William feel less daunting. Can't remember exact quote, but as a racer this mentality helped so much with race preparation and overall performance.

A few others that come to mind:

- Practice like you play
- Create a race day routine, no matter where you are in the world you can create a sense of familiarity
- Have FUN...duh
bturman
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6/10/2016 7:39pm
Steady breaths. Look ahead. Smooth is fast. Do whatever it takes to maximize your corner exit speed.
kidwoo
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6/10/2016 8:36pm Edited Date/Time 6/10/2016 8:37pm
Get an instagram account and tag every little company that ever gave you a sticker, while cataloging every single dump you take. The more @s and #s the better.

You'll lose all your friends because your social media just becomes endless commercials but seriously, people who give you bikes love that shit. Even though it doesn't mean squat regarding who's going to go buy one.

That is seriously more important than being a fast racer. Actually these days, that's what defines a successful racer.

Goin fast is hard work. Don't even bother. It's all about the @s and #s.

Mr. P
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6/10/2016 10:29pm Edited Date/Time 6/10/2016 10:30pm
#RideWithinYourAbility

@Ride Slow To Ride Fast

#PickYourSmasherSpotOnTheCourse

@Santa Cruz Bikes

#SelfieWithDuckieLips

P
Eoin
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6/11/2016 12:15am
Prepare your shit before race day, most races are a single or 2 days event: have everything (clothes/food/bars) packed and compartementalised before the race day. Clean, lube and check pressures before leaving your house. Never drastically change any of your setup on race weekend, make any changes 1-2 rides before hand. When you get to the venue, you are there to do one thing: ride your bike, hopefully faster than your buddies, dont waste time and mental energy having to deal with preparation, especially setup. Tyre pressure (within 3-4psi) and maybe tyres (if ridiculous weather happens) can be played with, but familiar setup is always best.

Too late for me, but I have picked up one one very important thing for the younglings:
Dads, dont buy your sub 16 year old a nice bike, in fact force them to ride heaps of junk even if it costs them time and places in the sub junior categories. That to me seems to be one of the secrets that separates the good from the super elite 1%. There are a few examples of kids riding hardtails and old junk full sus bikes, and these guy seem to end up pro, while the kid who rode a Trek Session from age 10 ends up a mid pack filler! It might also teach them not to blow all their money on the latest gimmick/trends (like we do) when they get older!
FreeForAll
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6/11/2016 8:21am
90% is usually faster than 110%
ambatty
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6/13/2016 10:23am Edited Date/Time 6/13/2016 10:27am
Chin up, eyes forward. Two-one breath ratio is what works for me (in-in-out), and relaxed shoulders.

Put the work in before race day. Once that beep goes, the work is over. Everything you've done up to this point will now manifest and it's time to play. Be prepared... Confidence comes from knowing that you've eliminated every possible angle that you're able to control. Now it's time to trust in your process.

Part of race weekend prep... Know the course. Once you can draw it in your mind, your brain knows what's coming. Remember the scene in cool Runnings, where they're all in the bathtub doing "turn one... Turn two..." You should be able to do that with your eyes closed. Visualize.

Elbows out -- come hell or high water, chin up, eyes forward and elbows out will always make you a few seconds faster, even if you're scared to death.

Race like you practice, but don't go into practice full-balls. Take it slow. Roll the course if you can, but remember that the little things you see in course walk aren't going to even exist once you're moving. Don't focus on the little shit. That said, don't forget the little shit -- know the difference between a rock that will move and a root or chopped stump that will end your day.

Plan on noise -- if you can practice with shouts and bells and cheers in a headphone, do it (just one). The more familiar you are with race day conditions, the less they'll startle you...

Race day? Realize that your body's natural response to stress in increased heart rate, tense muscles, constructing airways. Do what you're able to mitigate that stress. Secret of Stevie Smith: nasal strips. Breathe right strips are the shit. Not only do they force your airways open, they also tend to help a ton with goggle smash. It's nice to be able to get oxygen.

Most of all, enjoy the ride. Soak in the adrenaline. Breathe in the scent of the dirt, listen to the sound of the tires, and at the end of it all, realize that between the tape, this is your world. You have just been given permission to go as fast as you can physically handle.

ambatty
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6/13/2016 12:10pm
Oh, I'm sorry for providing useful (if overlooked) info. I just figured that some good information besides "go slow to go fast" was in order between the jaded hashtag bullshit. My deepest apologies. Wink
nickb01
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6/13/2016 12:48pm
This is for the really aspiring racers out there, it's some of the best advice I was given;

If you want to get to sponsored and make it big you've got to make it happen yourself. Put in the investment yourself, both monetary and time-wise, do the hard yards, and travel as much as possible to any important races. Earn good enough results that sponsors come to you, and until they do keep working.

BrianBuell
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6/13/2016 1:09pm
This advice isn't about how to perform, its about how to set yourself up for success.

If I were to get in the way back machine to 10 years ago I would slap myself in the face and give this advice:

Natural ability and strength can only take you so far, invest in some MTB skills instruction, hey, maybe something like this - rideoncamps.com

When looking for partnerships, do not accept the first offer sent your way, make sure that you will be riding something that will aspire confidence and can be serviced easily at your local shop or race venue support rig. This one is a big deal, so much time and energy lost due to the thought of being apart of the R&D process of a part/component company that didn't measure up at the highest level.

Sh!t happens, patience is a virtue and sometimes you have to learn German to find a spare shock at a Euro IXS Cup race!

FYI - I don't care that there are a few pieces of advice here, take it for what it is and learn from my mistakes!
ambatty
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6/13/2016 1:13pm
Yeah, totally understand that. There's a lot of info there (sincerely, my bad). However, a race day is never just one thing. A win never comes down to this one, most important part -- that's a myth. A good race and a nice result is a culmination of all the little things put together on the day. Unfortunately, all of the advice I gave above is crucial to me when racing... That's kinda why I listed it.

The one thing I always tell the gals I coach, however, is chin up, eyes forward, elbows out. But to anyone racing, that's kinda a given.

One thing? Know the course. Visualize. Know where your strong points are, what you need to session a bit, and know every corner, ever straight. The better you know the course, the more comfortable you'll feel. Comfort = lower stress. Lower stress = more fun. More fun = fast. Prepare. Wink
AGR97
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6/13/2016 1:51pm
BrianBuell wrote:
This advice isn't about how to perform, its about how to set yourself up for success. If I were to get in the way back machine...
This advice isn't about how to perform, its about how to set yourself up for success.

If I were to get in the way back machine to 10 years ago I would slap myself in the face and give this advice:

Natural ability and strength can only take you so far, invest in some MTB skills instruction, hey, maybe something like this - rideoncamps.com

When looking for partnerships, do not accept the first offer sent your way, make sure that you will be riding something that will aspire confidence and can be serviced easily at your local shop or race venue support rig. This one is a big deal, so much time and energy lost due to the thought of being apart of the R&D process of a part/component company that didn't measure up at the highest level.

Sh!t happens, patience is a virtue and sometimes you have to learn German to find a spare shock at a Euro IXS Cup race!

FYI - I don't care that there are a few pieces of advice here, take it for what it is and learn from my mistakes!
Totally agree on the coaching point, becoming the first international Lee Likes Bikes coach has completely changed a lot of my riding knowledge and now my riding is 100X safer, smoother, better, and faster.
http://www.leelikesbikes.com/alex-roberton

Now I need to get out there and add speed and power on a racecourse Wink
6/13/2016 7:16pm
Get the small details in order. Do that, and the big pieces will likely be in place as well.

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