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Thread: Berm technique

  1. #1
    Team Water Andy_K's Avatar
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    Berm technique

    Can somebody help me out here? The last couple of races I've done have featured short steep climbs up berms immediately following a tight turn. Everybody else is shooting right over these things, but I'm getting about half way up and grinding to a stop. What am I doing wrong?

    I feel like I want to be in my lowest gear going into the berm, just to give myself a chance to climb it before my cadence hits zero, but I also know I need to do something to build some momentum in the 10 feet between the turn and the berm. I'm thinking that I need to keep my weight back, with just enough on the front wheel to keep it on the ground. Hands on the hoods? Out of the saddle?

    If anyone can talk me through this, that would be awesome.

  2. #2
    or tarckeemoon, depending marqueemoon's Avatar
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    For a short, steep climb I usually scoot forward on the saddle and keep hands on the hoods. I find that the rear tire often breaks loose if I stand so I try to stay seated.

    If it's off camber you may need to do some ratchet stroke pedaling.

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    Obviously you want to carry as much speed as possible into the berm. There's sort of a fore-and-aft dance you do while pedaling to keep traction. Lowest gear isn't necessarily the best. Practice, practice, practice.

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    Sounds like you are possibly losing a little momentum in the turn. You may need to carry/keep a little more speed through the turn. Are you braking? Are other guys going through the turn faster than you? I also think you want to be in your "berm climbing gear" (whichever that is), before the turn. As soon as you it the apex, power out of the turn instead of coasting through and powering once clear.

  5. #5
    Team Water Andy_K's Avatar
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    Oh, I'm not losing a little momentum in the turn, I'm losing a LOT of momentum in the turn. For the weekly race were I'll be seeing this over and over until mid October, it's basically a U-turn around a tree, straight for maybe 15 feet, sharp diagonal between two trees, straightening out to the end-of-U-turn direction for 10-15 feet of bumpy ground and then straight up the berm. At the top, the course makes a quick turn to come back down the hill at an off-camber slant, which is dicey to say the least if you aren't clipped in, making the need to get up the berm all the more urgent.

    Last night I did OK. On the first lap I ran it because with 120 guys in my race it was a major bottle neck. On the second lap I got far enough up to just dab the left foot and ratchet over the top. On the third lap I made it. On the fourth lap I had to dab again. On the fifth lap, I dismounted and ran it because I was getting lapped and didn't want to screw over the faster riders by stopping mid hill. I'm not sure quite what I was doing. I stood and mashed to get to the top and had a little more determination. I also had better legs than last week.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Andy_K View Post
    I stood and mashed to get to the top and had a little more determination.
    That about sums it up. Learning to stand without losing traction is very helpful on the short steeps.

  7. #7
    or tarckeemoon, depending marqueemoon's Avatar
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    Around here there are often short, steep "kicker" type climbs, sometimes in series. Basically a chicane on a hill. I think some people refer to these as "dutch letters"

    What I've learned really helps is shooting for the stake on the inside line at the top of the climb. Once my front wheel passes it I know I'm clear, so I'll ease up for a second and look around to see what the traffic situation is like so I can take the best line on the descent and set up well for the next one.

    Basically I like to ride defensively on these kind of features. I'll concede a few feet to other riders if it give me a better line and saves energy.

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