Learning how to pick a good line makes you faster as well as smoother – important in such a fatiguing race as Lord of the Springs. Here are some tips.
- Plan Ahead, not Down. Look ahead and visualize a smooth line of where you want to go with only a quick glance at what you want to avoid. Your bike will go where your head goes. The faster you are going, the further ahead you need to look.
- Take it to the Bank. Rely on banked turns in most cases, especially if you aren’t experienced. Often loose rock and sand will have fallen into the groove below the bank. Better to use the firm bank. Find the beginning of the smooth arc early, not in the middle of it. Break a little before the turn if necessary and accelerate out of it.
- The Road Less Traveled. Sometimes the “road most traveled” is NOT the best route as it may have exposed roots, loose sand, or is just too round about. Take advantage of these areas. For turns, start on the outer arc initially, and cut (but not too sharply) to the inside. Or, break a little harder and stay inside the entire way.
- Straighten the Line. As you get more experienced, look for ways to straighten out the line rather than follow the crowd. Sometimes this will be on rockier or higher ground that may have more exposure but avoids pedal-konking grooves full of loose rock.
- Mo is Your Friend. No matter the line, Maintain your speed to clear smaller obstacles and float over loose rock. It’s a true and well-known paradox that the faster you go (up to a point), the easier and safer trail biking is.
- Begin with the End in Mind. Before you start one section, you should be looking at what position you will be in for the next section. This comes more naturally with practice (and knowing the trail of course).
- Avoid Bruises. Keep your eye out for bruised trees. Usually this indicates a tricky spot where riders have taken a poor line or gone in with too much speed.
- Practice. Practice. Obviously, try to ride the course before race day if you are not familiar with it (Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday will be same direction as race day flow). Go when the trail isn’t too busy if possible so you can ride and repeat a section using 2-3 different lines. Ride with a buddy and split off to see which line is best.
- Follow a Leader. If you can’t get to the trail before the race and you’re behind someone who is taking good lines and may be familiar with the trail, follow them. Even if you are a little faster, consider staying behind them so you don’t fatigue from poor line choice. Rest up and gain time on the gravel.