Chris Hutchens’ Rider Insights: Slow down to go faster

Looking to go faster? Team WO’s Chris Hutchens is here to share his experience and pass on a few tips.

This week it’s all about slowing down to go faster.

In my last few articles I’ve talked a bit about preparation and line choice. Working with Stefan from Morrocco Media has provided some really useful results that I can apply to my riding and work on with my coach. I hope you guys have found it as useful as I have.

I’m going to cover a couple of things in this article which I think are important to any rider preparing for the racing season or a specific event.

Firstly knowing when to take a break from training and secondly when to put the brakes on – and I mean literally, during your riding.

Slow down to go faster … when to take a break.

After Christmas I got stuck into training and things were going really well. Not only was I training, I was also working and then getting involved in a trail centre development in the North East of Scotland (watch this space!) … but it didn’t all go to plan.Aberdeen Weekend-2947 (Custom)

Towards the end of this first block of training I started to feel the build up of fatigue. I had one ride out on a cold evening at Pitfichie and I was completely flat. There’s was nothing in my legs. I got on the phone to my coach (Ben at MTBStrengthFactory) and we worked out that I had to rest and restructure the training sessions slightly. I wasn’t gaining anything from the plan we were working to and I was in danger of pushing myself into a black hole.

A common issue with athletes is overtraining. If you push too hard it can be difficult to pull yourself back and your results will suffer all year.

If you’re training solo, have a read of Joe Friels book, ‘The Training Bible’ (best price online seems to be here). This is what Training Peaks bases a lot of it’s plans on and it’s what I used myself in 2015 to structure my own training. I would however recommend paying for a coach to help you structure things, it’s money well spent if you want to improve, no matter what level you’re at. In fact it’s probably more important if your knowledge of training, structuring, tapering and planning sessions is limited. You don’t need those carbon wheels to go quicker, you need a coach!

Wideopenmag have got a list of mountain bike fitness coaches from the UK here that you might find useful.

Fox Boa Leaderboard 2024

Slow down to go faster … when to actually pull the brakes.

I recently worked with Morrocco Media and we discovered that I had a weakness with my cornering.

As I’ve said before, I’m not an ambiturner. That means I’m a lot more comfortable turning left. To try and improve, we spent a morning sessioning a right hand corner up at Dunkeld. Both Stefan and I have limited time together so it was important to be smart and what we looked at. Techniques don’t exist in isolation so not only did I want to work on body position in the corner but also braking points, pedal position and line choice.

You might have read a few different opinions on pedal position in corners, where to brake and how to position your body. Basics tell you to brake before the corner, position your pedals with the outside foot down and look around the corner for your exit point. Others may say differently, but after some very in depth analysis with Morrocco media I’m going to say that this basic principle applies.

Should you ride with your pedals flat in corners? Again I would conclude that generally you shouldn’t but some corners would be suited for this with fewer requirements to fight for traction.

For instance a bermed corner would require a more horizontal pedal position than on an off-cambered corner where the inside of the tyre must produce the greatest level of force into the ground on the edge of the tyre. It’s time for you to apply some of that school physics and think logically about cornering.

It’s all about pressure points and the angle it’s created at which will dictate your corner, stay on top of the bike and direct your weight though the pedals, and your bars.

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Hopefully that will get you thinking about your pedal position, as well as your body position. Now think about your braking point. Limit your braking in the corner and focus on getting it done before the corner. Set up, compose yourself, rail the corner and then focus on the exit! You’ll be flying.

With a little bit of work I was able to shave off over half a bike length on one small section, although this was a fraction of a second it all adds up. Hopefully for me applying some basic principles will have helped my riding improve. I’ll see when the race season comes around!

Go out there and play with your braking points, grab a stopwatch and let me know how you get on!

See you at British Enduro Series Round 1!