Overall I’d say you muscle the bike (mostly from the pedals), but get away with it due to good coordination and timing. Powering along helps you over rough terrain, but works against you when things stall. And over-utilising your general strength to handle the bike, under-utilising footwork, means you’re handling the bike too much from the top (bars/front end). So the pressure you put into the bike is too often on the wrong parts of the bike’s contact points, therefore you’re working against the trail too often rather than generating speed and flow from the trails’ shapes.
My aim will be to free you up at various points on the trail, but make you work harder at other points. At the moment things are too ‘constant’ in terms of pedalling and general bike-body interaction. All this is easy enough to sort out though, hence my confidence in getting you some good gains. But I’ll warn you now, at your level I’m going to need to get really picky, detailed and ruthless with fine tuning various elements of your riding.
Things you’re doing well
Great overall strength/power.
Excellent coordination and reflexes.
Good, aggressive riding style.
Great persistence, which will come in handy here.
Clearly understanding technical concepts. Also great for this stuff.
Scanning the trail well.
Good general cornering form.
Obviously motivated and keen to learn. We’ll get a lot out of these sessions.
Things you can improve
You’ve improved your stance on the bike a lot, but you’re still too static. Even if you’re relaxed, being still isn’t good for working the bike and trail. I’m keen to get you working it, rather than merely managing the trail.
We can definitely improve line choices, but of course that’s conditional on doing plenty of background technique work for more advanced lines to be safe, smooth and rewarding.
You tend to over-steer in turns, trying to do everything at once in the mid-point of turns. I want to spread this out a bit. It mostly relates to your lacking good set-up before turns.
You’re usually over-geared and therefore straining and raising off your pedals to negotiate features and shapes in too high a position. I probably won’t change your gearing though, just focus on flowing more to stay on top of your existing gearing.
You’re stalling on objects while at the bottom of pedal strokes, often stuck at 6/12 o’clock on the trail, which is hard to pedal away from.
Constant pedalling is working against you as much as it’s driving you along. I’m keen to make this more strategic.
You tend to brace your lower body (almost clutching your saddle) on approach to trail features, including corners. That’s essentially making you more rigid on the bike when you need to be relaxed and loose.
Pulling bars and pedals too often. It’s rare we need to pull anything on the bike if proper technique is used. I’ll get you using the trail so you don’t need to pull.
Your lateral position on corners is ‘linear’. So you’re sitting directly on top of the bike and inline with it. I’ll get you moving the bike under you so you’re rarely linear like this.
Footwork needs improvement. It’s mostly working against you on corners and under-utilised on other features. Mostly, I need to see more pressure on the outer pedal drop, after timing the pedal drop differently.
Overall you’re spending too much time moving vertically, with no fore-aft movements of body or bike. We’ll turn this around.
As a result you’re muscling the bike. Partly because you can, but also because you have to if you’re to counter the effects of the above inefficiencies. Easy fixed!
Once things come together well I’ll get you ‘attacking’ features more, then using them to make life easier, rather than avoiding or managing intimidating shapes on the trail.
Body positioning and set-up
Saddle fore-aft and angle:
Tyre pressures: THESE MAY INCREASE AS SKILLS IMPROVE.
Suspension pressures: WE MAY TWEAK PRESSURES AND DAMPING AS TECHNIQUE IMPROVES.
Your form and movements here are quite good, but lacking that next level bike handling needed to hit them with good speed and extra control. So this is where I need to get picky to pinpoint what can improve. The main thing is pressure on various parts of the bike. You’re dropping the outside pedal, but not putting enough pressure on it. Therefore any extra pressure on the inside grip to dip in and carve the bike harder will mean you’ll wash out. Without those two sides being pushed you’re essentially ‘linear’ on the bike, inline with it as you both lean together. More on this later. But also note the empty, almost useless pedal strokes between those turns. We’ll work on those being firm and useful too.
Empty pedal strokes before this turn twisted you out of wack, as well as adding to the entry stall. We’ll avoid this, but also spend that time emphasising set-up for turns. This reinforces what I was seeing on most turns – that you have good technique and face into turns well, holding speed, but don’t work the turns hard enough to generate speed from them.
I wanted to challenge you on this line because there’s no hiding with ‘okay’ technique. Things have to be sharp, active and fluid. To me this is where you experienced a subtle ‘high-siding’ effect, since you’re positioned on top of the bike, then steer it in with the bars only. This is what I mean by ‘linear’, which is fine on sweeping turns, but not when things get tough. It’s related to your dropping the outside pedal too soon, tipping over the outside of the saddle to follow it. So you spend a lot of time tensing up and fighting the high-siding instead of working through the turn to shoot through.
Here you wanted to attack more, but do it by pedalling in. That might feel like it will contribute, but like on the other turns above it really just twists you around and detracts from what should be happening on set-up. So that big stall in the middle is you resisting the tipping over the outside due to being so propped up on top of the bike, instead of on the inside of it. We’ll work on this.
In slow motion you’ll see how your hips rotate to the outside of the bike to follow your hips. This is something you don’t want to allow, at least not that early and that much. Also note that across that rock step-down you have one foot up and one down, being uneven when you ‘compress’ off that.
Then you worked out that having level cranks across the step-down was neater, but you fumbled your footwork to get there. This highlights what I want anyway, which is holding off on the outer pedal drop, so it’s later. You want pedals to be level for longer in the entry phase for various reasons. Handling corners with rough crap on them neatly is one reason.
As with all the other turns, see how your body weight wants to keep travelling straight while you over-steer the bike in to the right? The two want to separate and your body, being heavier than the bike, wants to pull the bike wide to over-shoot the turn. Also, see how cramped you are, almost in your own way, at the key point in the turn (the change of direction)? This is also related to your footwork, but also lack of fore-aft shifting. I call that ‘compressing’ into the bike because essentially the trail is stopping the bike while your overall mass wants to keep travelling forward. Add a change of direction and braking to that and things really compress in, cramping you on the bike. We’ll also work on that, as it really affects things from then on.
When I mention constant pedalling I refer to this sort of thing, pedalling at points where it’s more detrimental than helpful. Watch how those empty pedal strokes on entry destabilise you without really helping drive the bike.
This sort of action is a good indication of how you interact with the bike on the trail. If I were to be harsh, I’d describe this is limited, jerky, hard work, and not worth the energy. This is the type of action that needs to improve if you’re going to step things up a level in terms of fluidity, flow and efficiency on the trail.
Slow motion: Inline with other aspects of your riding this is all too central in terms of fore-aft positioning and shifting, lacking set-up, too much use of arms, not enough use of feet, and overall not relaxed and fluid. Don’t worry, I have solutions to this and it’s going to help your general riding a lot.
Also inline with your general riding is this action being too vertical, squatting then raising. Bunny hops should be more fore-aft movement than anything and overall shifting should involve circular motions. Refining your manual will be the first step to this, then we’ll get you bunny hopping with ease. That will make it more effortless and more likely to be used even if you’re tired or don’t know trail sections well.
At normal speed you can see how much energy is required to get minimal benefit here. Most of all it’s the form I’m after, being looser and more fluid. That’s all going to lead to other things like better jumping.
And this is just a quick reference so you recall that bit of trail, which is a tiny example of a million things around most trails that can change in how you approach and execute them.
This slow speed entry is the real test, with the initial acceleration the bit I’m most keen to improve. But overall your rhythm is stalling because you’re pushing through those dips, but not carrying momentum over the top of those mounds. The main things I see here are you needing to start even further forward (‘diving in’), sinking back harder into your hips/legs as you go through each dip, pushing through both feet (‘kicking’), not letting your elbows kick out to lose drive through them, and ensuring you push over the top of those mounds as well as through the dips.
See how the bike kicks into you on the up-ramps there? That hard ‘compression’ is stalling you on the way up, so make sure you pump up those faces to end up off the front-end to avoid that stall.
On the downs diving in harder with your upper body over the front wheel more, so you’re off-set forward and after doing a big pump to match those big down-ramps you’re not ending up too far over the rear.
Much better on that first drop-in, centralising well at the end of it. The second down was off-set back too far again, but I’m sure you’ll see what you need to do with these.
Much less stalling on the ups too, so keep working on this so timing is refined. It’s like a slow motion pump up, by rocking back to unweight the front wheel when it wants to compress against the face, then rocking forward to unweight the rear when it crosses the lip. Then you can drag the bike over and across under you from there.
Carrying much better speed and holding better flow.
This is to show how you’re off-set back, over the rear wheel too far. So dive in even further forward and make the movement more like a rocking back and sinking into the back of the bike, rather than purely sliding back.
You’d activated the legs by this point and you can see the result, with the bike kicking harder through those dips. Before that point you were diving in well, leading with your shoulders, with a good shift back from that. Timing is slightly off with this one, a tad delayed, but I knew that would come.
Creepy slow-mo voice! This is getting good, with everything activated. Just a bit delayed still, so you’re skipping some of the initial parts of each dip, which then puts you behind timing through and over the top of each. But great progess by this point.
That’s it! Nice! Once these actions and timing are second nature you’ll be sharper and quicker with them to not fall behind on those last few. But that’s great form.
This is where the previous bad habit of sliding your hips forward under you crept back in. I saw this with the manual too. That means you spend more time sliding those forward then back instead of pushing power into the wheels and trail. So watch that you keep your hips back behind you the whole time. They just relax and follow you a bit, then you use them as a pivot point to perform these actions. If you slide them around you lose strength in that pivot point.
Form definitely improving. Keep doing this whole run without pedalling at all and see how fast you can finish it off, without feeling like you’ve over-worked.
I’d say because you have long limbs you’re over-using the range you have in them and sliding back too far. Or, more than that, you’re not getting onto pushing through your pedals early enough. So you want to ensure you’re on even pedals, pushing hard, about half way through that sliding back part. A few things will make this possible, mainly starting with your chest over the bars and not sliding your hips forward to do that.
You improved those points, but still lacked that ‘kick’ through with the legs. They’re just static and locked at this point. If you do go too far back and extend those too far, there’s no range left in those to extend, since they’re already extended, to push through the pedals to scoop the rear wheel under the bike to ‘scoop’ it up.
That was better because your legs were bent and ready to kick through when needed. But also see how your chest is inline with your bars? Chest needs to be a bit over the front of your bars. At least until you’ve refined everything else and can get away with less movement. Either way, this is the position you need to be in order to push into the ground harder, for a good strong pre-load, like a push-up. At this stage you were coming purely off the ground without pushing first.
Normal speed reference. This is good because you’re not bending your arms.
Better initial position and pre-load! You then got onto your feet really early too! You just need to follow through with the legs extending through into the bike, rather than in sliding your back on the bike.
Another important detail, since you’re super close to getting this, is to push through your heels instead of toes. That makes all the difference in getting the pressure onto the correct part of the bike at the right time, which is what this is all about.
Hips slid forward again there, killing that wheelie. Stay glued and push back and down into the saddle rather than coming up and forward off it. So this is all about the rear wheel coming across under the front, not the front wheel merely coming up off the ground. Like climbing, it’s all about pressuring the rear with body weight and a pedal stroke to get the front floating effortlessly.
Better, but still lacking a forward set-up and pre-load. You’ll find you can rely a lot on body shift, rather than energy and pressure.
Lack of set-up again, but also see how you’re pedalling befoe you move your body. So the pedal strokes totally strain against your body weight rather than both aiding each other. A key thing is to start rocking back and into the saddle just before you start pedalling. The body shift and weight will help the pedal stroke be more effective.
Yes!! You put everything together well here and it shows. Because you did do all those actions well you ended up needing a heavier gear in order to keep floating. That ratio would have been a strain in the past, but there it was helped with body shifts and ended up being an empty gear. So when all your wheelies look like this run a harder gear than you think you need.
Tight, rocky hairpin:
Just a reference at normal speed, as I think you were just over-thinking this one and put on the spot.
What I see here is the same as other areas of your riding – a good position, but lack of movement. I wanted to then add shifting of the bike under you more (fore-aft movement).
You can see a few points there where the trail grabbed your bike from underneath you, stalling you, putting you into the front wheel and making steering too heavy to get around. The key is to pre-empt those ‘compressions’ and worth with them without tensing too much or being erratic in shifting off them.
That was similar, in that you locked up and braced yourself, rather than shifting the bike to iron those divets out and free yourself up.
The line could definitely be wider here, but generally there’s lack of body/bike interaction (fore-aft shifting) and too much constant pedalling going on. We’ll work on this, mainly changing where the pressure ends up on each contact point at different times.
And you got around things there, but mainly because everything worked out in each moment. I never like to rely on things going perfectly each time.
Uphill, rocky A-line:
I’ll sound like a broken record again, but this is all about fore-aft shifting. Being central and still doesn’t allow you to regulate and minimise stalling on each wheel, as you’re on both of them all the time, to some degree.
Relating to the wheelie, you’re raising off the saddle when you should be pushing into it, then pushing into the front of the bike when you should be off it, so it’s light and floaty.
A repeat of that previous one, maybe with even more negative shifts (in the wrong direction) and heavier stalls. We’ll do plenty more of this stuff though. Early days.
Good timing on the rhythms there, but still too central and reaching out to pump the front wheel. And watch how level pedals/cranks prop you up on those turns, keeping you cramped when you try to get your upper body low. So your legs are in your way when you try to lean in hard. This will always be limiting in that way, with too much top-heavy movement.
Still not happening, but I could see you dipping to start it.
This is where you got things going with the feet, but only on the left-hander. I’m guessing it’s to do with confidence to forward pedal to drop not being as natural as back-pedalling to drop.
This was after a couple of goes and you nailed the timing and pressure of the pedal drops. See how it lets you sink into the BB and rear wheel to scoop the bike through those turns. Most of all, the lateral pressure on the outside, countering the inside grip, is helping the tyres ‘cut in’ and grab the dirt. This was great form.
The drop cound be a tad later, if I were to be picky, since you want the pressure on that outside pedal to be saved for going against the berm, then across it. If it’s slightly too early the potential to accelerate right through and out of the berm is reduced.
I gave you the shout to make it later and that was good. You ‘kicked’ through those turns and the desired effect of the pedal drop helping you steer around also happened. In fact it was too good, as you over-steered and turned in too suddenly, skipping the face of the berms. Especially on that second turn. Now that you have that method going, it should feel like you counter-steer or purposely under-steer to avoid the premature low/tight turn.
Even better! A nicer line and arc. This is the point where I wanted to add the inside grip pressure, to tip the bike under you and counter the pedal drop/pressure. Ideally that will allow you to carve harder and load up those berms more, allowing you to ride across them higher for longer.
Getting good, now with empty pedal strokes on exit. That’s where you’re starting to need to run a harder gear than you’re used to because you’re simply cornering faster and accelerating out sooner. So have confidence you’re not going to get bogged down on turns.
See how you’re now exiting the berms higher, and going off the end, compared to the earlier goes? A very good sign.
I’m keen for you to clear that table-top after turn 1. And more kick through the pedals needed through those rhythms. Cornering form is excellent. I’m stoked.
Regressing back to level pedals on that left-hander. My theory is that you were distracted by the fact that you had to work the grips after we discussed it, plus I forced you to stay off the brakes. So things like that will make you revert to old habits, hence the level cranks. I wasn’t too worried though. All part of the process.
I really slowed this one down because we can compare form on the first turn, with level pedals, with turn 2 dropping the pedal. See how you’re cramped and ‘linear’ with the bike on turn 1? That’s where I can clearly see the tyres would wash out if you went faster or pushed into the turn in that position. Where the second turn you could go way faster and load hard and you’d be fine.
Note the significant stall off that mound into turn 1. That ‘in-between’ are is what I call a ‘transition’ area between one feature to another. In this case between the mound and the corner. Keep that in mind for next session when we work on that, as it’s a huge factor in making (or losing) time in races.
Then we spoke about being more aggressive with shifting the bike forward under you off that mound and through the turn. And you can see it. This is what I’m after – more aggressive shifts rather than lazy movements.
See the premature pedal drop? You must have felt that because you sort of came off it again, then pushed back down onto it. This proves you are getting a feel for loading the turns, but ideally this would all happen in one fluid motion, starting later. Drop-and-load in a gradual progressive way.
And that’s the one! Nice, late, progressive pedal drop and an awesome, confident ‘dive in’ to that dip before the table-top. This is the form I’m after! We’ll get to that jump soon.
Great lateral shifting to set up, with pedals still level at that point. That’s perfect. The less your body sways out at that point the better, with just the bike sliding wide ideally. To do that you need to pre-load from the right side of the track more, before that big rock on the inside, then transfer across to the wide entry. Without that pre-load you’re staying unweighted across the track and lacking pressure going into the dirt. The pedal drop through was also good, but also lacking pressure/loading into the berm.
You then added pressure on set-up and through the berm and that looked great. Especially since your outer arm is extended and inside arm tucked in, ready to push into that inside grip as you cross the apex. Great form!
And you’re now riding the berm higher, earlier, for longer, and with more force. Nice.
With that great form and acceleration through the turns increasing, pedal strokes on exit are a bit empty. This is where you need to be in almost your hardest gear so you can ‘pedal to exit’ to follow through on that, rather than turning and the exiting.
I hassled you to pedal out early in a harder gear, provided you dropped your inside shoulder to prevent you from high-siding with it. So pressure has to be on the inside to keep the tyres loaded. Great form again, but I’d say an even more solid gear would be better.
See what I mean about the pump off the mound being ‘slidey’? That’s similar to your pumping in session 1 on the pump track, where you’re sliding the bike away and ending up too far back. So this needs to be more of a push down, then out a bit, going from a forward position over the mound, to finishing more central to pump both wheels. Not starting central and finishing too far back. So the key part for you is to roll over the top of those mounds with more intention, then dive in early to set up for the pump through.
That was better in your shifting of body weight. Now we just need to time the pedal strokes in with that better, so the strokes help the pump, rather than being separate. The timing of your pedalling over these shapes is usually too soon, so the down strokes are stalling you as much as they’re driving you along.
Here you come forward too soon, compressing yourself into that mound. Try sinking back into the saddle harder and for longer, scooping the bike up the ramp (pedalling if you want to), then diving over later to drag the bike over without stalling as much.
That was good! With timing like that you can pedal up the ramp as well and really work the bike through with those strokes being light and more beneficial.
Good wheelie action there. Just missing the rocking back over the front to unweight the rear, then pushing the bars to drag the bike over before pedalling. We got to that later though.
Blue Tongue step-up
As you identified in the photos I sent this is where you usually lack a forward set-up to then wheelie sharply and then come back forward to raise over the drag the bike across. Here you instead stall with weight on the front, compressing hard into it, with pedalling being your only option. Too hard in this case.
You improved here with a wider entry, good set-up, a good wheelie action, but then neglecting the dynamic shifts needed to take care of the rear wheel. As discussed, you’ll get away with just pedalling the rear wheel over on smaller simpler obstacles, but not once you get to this sort of thing.
Having done the log work later on, you’ll probably now see the point at which you’d shift weight forward over the step-up before doing the throw out, instead of just pedalling to stall.
The main issues I’d fix here are hips sliding under you to prop you upright, cramping you. Plus overall being too rigid and inactive. Only pedalling to get through this is going to make it ‘hit and miss’.
Better entry with the wide line over the rock, creating more room through the turn, allowing for a better pre-load. The wheelie just needed to be more floaty, then back to the other steps to take care of the rear wheel.
Great entry speed and line. Just too locked up through the rest and it’s a bit of a strain.
Similar again, but you muscled it through. This is where you can say you got through, but it’s very fumbly and hard work.
Luge snake turns
Empty pedal strokes again, a reminder that you should do all of Luge in almost your hardest gear. And mainly I want to see you planting the bike onto all of those turns, with strong pressure on the inside grip and outside pedal going into the pockets of all of those turns. Once you get a feel for this you’ll enter that area way faster and hold it. Even using the speed to help load those turns more naturally.
Playground log step-up
Using the manual
More entry speed, with less time to do what’s needed, with too much manual. It shows you’ve got a decent manual up your sleeve though. Although the main reason it was overkill is because you pulled the bars when you didn’t need to.
Nice one! You got all three steps sorted here. We then just needed to fine tune the direction in shifts, the timing and the fact it’s a bit disjointed. Being more fluid will mean you won’t need to pull pedals at all. But that was a great start.
Even more relaxed. This was excellent.
Awesome! This is what it should always look like.
And, as you showed here, the faster you go the sharper and more precise things need to be. That worked well.
Using the wheelie
This is clearly where you still had manuals on your mind. The wheelie method isn’t as natural for you too.
See how that was just a nudge or ratcheting of the pedal, rather than a full stroke to float the front over? You sorted this on the other logs, so it’s all good. But really work at utilising that stroke from the top, rather than having to reef on the bars and then trundle over the rest.
You’ve clearly been working on the cornering techniques, because form is great here. Which is why I wanted to add more conscious footwork after the pedal drop. And also getting you to pause the feet more often on all turns. The point that things compress and slightly bog down in the turn there, at the apex, can be used to set up for a more forceful exit stroke or two. When you pedal out there it’s a bit gentle and under-utilised.
See how the pedalling is more to drive the bike along rather than to help steering and body shifts? I’m keen to get all of those things at once.
Good shoulder drop, poised to pedal into that and use it as a pivot point to kick around the turn to ‘create’ the exit, rather than wait for it.
That’s the one! With enough sudden force going into those first two pedal strokes you sunk into the rear wheel for that to track beter, lightening up the front end to take tension off your hands and make steering lighter. That’s the ‘subtle wheelie’ I mentioned. Or not so subtle if there are rocks or other obstacles at the exit.
That action you can see, which was late, was good. It just needs to happen closer to the apex.
As a reference, that ‘power wheelie’ effect needs to happen off that first pedal stroke, rather than the third. Then it will also be lateral rather than just a straight float.
DH playground drops
As you felt right away on this one, it was a bit tense. But you kept low, efficient and did the right things. It was more of a ‘nudge’ than a throw out, but a good start.
Then you gave it more of a nudge and relaxed more and this was good. It was clear that you were ready for drop #2.
That was great form, with a fluid throw out using both hands and feet. All that’s missing now, for when you do larger drops at higher or lower speeds, is the forward set-up to create more range for more air time or to make up for lack of speed.
Good work! See how the bike naturally centralises on landing? Keep trusting that will happen on larger drops and therefore you can work on a forward set-up without thinking you’ll end up too far forward for the landing.
Awesome! See how you spread the load between both wheels by regulating how level they were while you did the throw. That’s all down to having good range on the throw so you can time that just right and not rush it.
Great again. To feel comfortable sending you off drop #4 I’d hassle you more to get forward on set-up, so you don’t use up all of your range too early and stay static for the remainder of the air time. This will apply to high speed drops where the air time is across-ways.
Great set-up, going into the heels well. As we discussed, the main thing that’s needed is for those legs to ‘kick’ out. See how they’re bent and stay bent? At about the point where your hips pass your saddle is when you need to start kicking to have the rear wheel follow through under you. Rear brake ready!!
Pump track doubles
See the lack of pre-load before the lip here? The approach you’re taking to jumps is ‘riding at them’, then letting them launch you while you manage what that launch is like. So you’re neglecting the key parts before all that.
The result is a limited amount of boost. And the boost you do get is due to the speed you have. I’ll work to get you jumping high and far without relying on speed. That’s going to make things more controlled anyway, since you’ll have a feel for what’s happening before you kick up.
I can see more pre-loading there, translating to more air. So it’s all about doing all the hard work before the lip, then relaxing after that. Too many riders tense up across the face, then try to work after the lip when it’s too late (in the air). This was more of a preview to what we’ll work on later.