Crank less, ride faster.
Flat-out pedalling doesn’t always equal faster riding. Here’s how to go faster and expend less energy at the same time.
Sometimes it’s quicker to resist that urge and relax, pick good lines, stay light on the bike, pump, and only pedal where it makes sense.
Switchbacks = pump!
It may be tempting to put a crank in between two linked corners, but it can throw your weight off and ruin your line into and out of the second corner. Just stay light after exiting the first corner then bring your weight back down onto the bike through the second, using that time to pick the best line. Linked corners are a great place to keep the pedals level and pump for speed.
Roots = pump!
Hitting roots — no matter what the size — slows you right down, even more so if you’re pedalling. It’s often faster to swerve around them or use the first one to jump across the rest. Alternatively, you can press the bike down into the ground just before the first root like you’re preparing for a bunny hop, then go light as you hit it, allowing your weight to settle back down on smoother ground. Roots disrupt your flow, so try not to pedal.
Gulleys = pump!
A rocky gulley is never a good place to pedal — you can easily lose your footing or catch a side, and any impact on rocks slows you down. Keep light on the bike, pick the smoothest line and, if there is a down-slope or any rock or ledge in the gulley, push the rear wheel down on it to gain a little extra speed. Catching a pedal is easy in tight ruts – try to pump instead.
Corner exits = pedal!
Tight corners don’t usually leave you with much momentum, so start cranking as soon as you can see the exit! Just one well-timed pedal stroke can send you flying down the next section of trail. Getting on the gas out of a corner tops up your speed.
Gentle descents = pedal!
If the trail begins to slope gently down, try to get a few solid pedal strokes in as soon as possible — that speed will carry on down the trail with you. Waiting longer to gather momentum means you aren’t pushing at your limit. Sometimes it’s so flat you just have to pedal.