so i got my ass handed to me at cam-rock park on saturday. i felt good physically, but my bike handling skills were pretty sh1tty. besides taking my bike to the tame dirt trails in my area what can i do to improve my bike handling?any specific drills or should i just ride alot offroad? i lost alot of time slowing down for turns and im surprised i didnt wipe out
Mountain biking can help. If you don't have/can't get a mountain bike, ride your 'cross bike on tamer trails. Best would be to go out riding with somebody better than you at the technical aspects of 'cross and follow his/her lines through corners, have them show you technique, etc.
i'm still pretty new to all this as well but i just picked a nice long downhill near my house that had some trees i could slalom. i was dubious at first if this would be realistic or actually help at all but i feel like it is and did. watch out for crab apples though!
Originally Posted by Sheldon Brown
Because when fashion conflicts with function, I vote for function.
Riding xc (on the cross bike) for me at least taught me bike handling in the sense of (I'm not getting over/around that unless I do something beyond my limits right now) ... basically fear of catastrophic injury is a very good motivator. I'm way more confident getting through tight singletrack/rocks/etc. at speed now and I've manhandled my bike through situations that I'd never even come close to on the street (just snap reflex stuff that I had no idea I was capable of). In that sense, riding the cross bike on singletrack has helped.
However, a lot of the stuff I personally have seen in cx races isn't so much "challenging" as convoluted. Taped off hairpin turns (off camber if at all possible) with nothing under your tires but wet grass and leaves seem to be the norm. I'd specifically practice turns like that. Set up something where you have to come at the turn as fast as possible, get the bike around 180 degrees with nothing for traction underneath and then get moving again. Then practice it going the other direction ... then practice it off camber, etc.
So ya, xc riding's good for keeping your cool when the race sends you near something that could really hurt you. Specific cx training will help a lot w/ convoluted turns that show up at races.
As a fellow poor bike-handler, what has helped me is thinking more carefully about tire choice, tire pressure, for your weight and course conditions; ask other guys what they are running, squeeze their tires, squeeze yours. Get to the race early and check out the one or two challenging turns. Scrub off speed before the turn. Yesterday I practiced this one turn probley 10 times before I was comfortable. The first lap I was able to pass a guy on the straight before that turn because he was slowing down but I knew I could take it faster. Then there was a massive pileup behind me.
Totally get to the race early. I generally try to be there an hour before my start time. Generally I do two test laps of the course. The first one I take basically a walking pace, just to spot as many potential problems as I can. If there are any tricky spots, I'll go over them a few times until I figure out what my plan is. Then I'll do a second lap and try to put everything together. That still leaves me time for stretching, meet + greet, washroom break, etc. before I have to show up at the line.
As far as tire pressure/choice goes ... I just run mine as low as I can get away with (ie. w/out pinch flatting all the time or suffering from tire flop). With my weight of 140-145# or so and Michelin Mud2s, that's generally between 34 and 38psi.