6 top tips for track walk at your next race

Would you ever take the time to walk the track before you race?

You should – here’s why … and 6 tips to make the most of your track walk.

Written by elite DH racer Olly Morris.

Ask any decent racer and they’ll swear by the track walk ritual.Time spent on foot means you’ll hit your first run ready for whatever’s thrown at you.

Here’s a few tips from Wideopenmag’s elite DH racer Olly Morris on how to make the most of your next track walk. Olly races all over Europe and is fast as hell – he knows his stuff!

Give these tips a read, try them out and let us know what you think in the comments!Charlie Hatton Fort William World Cup Wideopenmag (24 of 61)
1. Plan track walk in to your weekend.

Plan in time to track walk in the same way you’d plan in time to practice riding the track. Do it on Friday night with plenty of available light, food in your belly, a good group of experienced riders to walk with and no rushing.

It should be relaxed and not leave you knackered for race day. Don’t be that guy that has to track walk by the light of their mobile phone!

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2. Spend time walking down. Not walking up.

Try to not look at the track too much when walking up. Why?

  • It gives you more time to review the track on the way down
  • It will mean you programme the track into your mind the right way and you’ll remember it more easily

When you are walking back down, spend your time taking in the track. Calculated riders like Greg Minnaar will spend long periods of time just looking at key sections to make sure they know exactly what is coming up. Basically, don’t rush!

At busy track walk times, people can often get in the way of you being able to have a proper look. Wait for people to clear out the way or try to get in front so you can have a good view of the track. You need to see the view you will have when you’re actually on the bike.

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3. Stay open minded.

‘The one’ isn’t always ‘the one’. You’re looking for options not The Line.  It’s important to stay open minded and find all the line options for you.

Once you know all the line options, you can then try them in practice and learn which one is faster for you. Lines and conditions are always changing through the weekend so if you are aware of all the lines, you can adapt more easily when things start changing.

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FMD racing diagram trackwalk
From the Transition Factory Racing pits – taken by Toby Parodi.

4. Look for lines where you can carry speed.

It’s all about carrying your speed – keeping the speed that you already have and not losing any of it.

You get speed from two things – gravity and pedal power. Use both of these wisely.

Hitting square edges, sliding, pulling the brakes where you don’t need to or not pumping through sections will take speed away from you.

When walking the track, search for lines where you will be hitting less square edges, won’t be sliding out of control and where you can pump. This will keep the energy you need, give you good flow and make the run easier, more fun and … faster.

5. Concentrate.

It can sometimes be tough to track walk because of the social element. It’s nice having a walk through the woods with your mates and chatting bullshit.

Postpone your chat for the pub and focus on remembering the track ready for your first practice run. Track walk is the only time you get to see the track at a slow pace so use the time wisely. Sometimes it helps to hang back, let the crowd get ahead of you and separate yourself from your chattier mates.

Concentrating is all about giving yourself the best opportunity to remember the track, some people like to take photos and videos to remind themselves of key sections, or they draw a diagram of the track. Try this technique to see if it helps you. When you’re at the bottom, try visualising the track in full (you might find this quite hard) but this is where your photos and videos can help.

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6. Difficult doesn’t mean faster.

If you watch the world cup, you might see 10 different riders on 10 different lines. Some of them on harder lines and others on easier lines. When walking the track, we often assume the difficult line is the faster one … that’s not always the case.

The faster line is the line that is faster for you.  The difficult line might work for Josh Bryceland but is it going to be fast for you?

Find the line the line that works for you and that you know you can commit 100% to and get through in one piece. You’ll be more confident come race day and have less to worry about.

Did Olly’s tips help? Did he miss anything out?

Let us know in the comments what your top tips for track walk are!

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And one final tip – chose your favourite track walk footwear carefully!

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