Tuesday, February 7, 2012

A fast lap at the Winter Short Track in Rennaisance Park

     This year I've raced a rigid 29er, a 26" full suspension, and a 29er hardtail at the Renni short track.  In the past I've also raced cyclocross bikes.  Here's my take on a fast lap:

   We'll start out coming in to the woods.  There is a left hand bend with a tree tight to the right.  Just before the tree is a small, angled root.  Sometimes this will push your bike to the right.  Don't worry about it.  Just ride over it and look beyond the tree to the right.  You won't hit it.  The next obstacle is the square concrete drain thing.  Some ride over it, some stay tight right.  I find it easier to ride over it as this allows you to be in better position for the right hand bend which is usually one of the last sections of trail to dry.  Wether you ride around or over the concrete pad, stay to the right of the big knobby root.  It's faster and smoother and will get you set-up for the banked lefthander.

   There are 2 fast ways around the first banked lefthander.  Many new riders don't take either of them.  The first is to stay wide right which is fairly smooth, but you enter the corner at the top of the berm.  This is fine, as the banking will hold you.  The 2nd option is to enter a little more to the left.  It's a little bumpy, but that's fine because you don't need to brake anyway.  You will hit the corner a little low, then run up to the top where you "pump" the center and blast down the hill.  Either way is fast and both can be done without braking.  Usually.  I only ran off the top of the berm one time (it was a muddy day) and I lived to tell about it.

  You should still be in a tall gear to run down the litle hill.  Hit the right hander to the outside catching the little berm that is available to hook the tires, then stand on the right pedal hard and rail the left hander.  No brakes.  From this position, in the same big gear, stand and shoot to the top of the little hill.  From here you have to tiptoe a bit around the bumpy, sweeping gravelly right hander.  Do not let the bike wash to the outside.  You need to hit the lafthanded banked corner to the center, or right side.  I usually brake a little BEFORE this corner.  Get off the brakes as soon as you can.  You will be surpised how fast you can take this corner when you are off the brakes.  Coast into the tight right/left corners with your focus being on the exit of the lefthander.  Stay wide left on entrance to get a good line entering that lefty.  Executing this properly will save you a lot of time.

   Exiting the cornering you need to be in control of the bike and in a big gear.  That way you can pedal over the few slick roots and rocks through the 2 jumps.  I usually just push the bike forward over the big jump which won't gain you style points, but is a bit faster.  Pedal as soon as you can on the uphill side.  Weight your left leg for the sweeping righthander, but be ready to swap to your right leg for the banked lefthander.  NO BRAKES.  stay to the inside of the corner.  There is a lightly gravelly spot that will slide your bike a bit right.  There is a tree to the right.  DO NOT LOOK AT THE TREE.  Stand and pedal up the hill, shift down if you need to, but keep your weight back a bit to keep from spinning over the bridge.  You are about to enter a fast section and you need to keep momentum up.

  I find it faster to stay to the right after the bridge, altough there is room to go wide left to pass someome.  From here roll down the hill.  If you have energy, otherwise you won't lose much time just rolling it down the hill, over the little jump and around the lefthander.  You do not need to slow for this "corner".  On any bike. 

   Hook the berm for the lefthander at the tree and go over the rocks around the right hand corner.  The lafthander has plenty of banking to hold you, plus it's uphill so it will slow you down anyway.  The bike will float over the rocks and you can make a clean righthand corner.  There is usually a cheering section here to help you along.  Rest a second down the short hill, shift down one gear and the moment you apex the lefthander to go up the hill you need to be pedaling hard.  This will shoot you up the grade to the tighter, more gravelly lefthander.  I usually shift down another gear and pedal as soon as I apex the corner.  Some people just grunt through it in the bigger gear to help keep from spinning the rear.

   Pick the smoothest line over the rocks by avoiding all the little up-ended pointy rocks, being sure to time your pedal strokes to not strike any of them and keep the power on around the lefthander onto the fire road.  This corner is a little gravelly, so use a bit of caution not to spin.  KEEP PEDALING.  The first part of the fire road is the steapest.  Going hard here will pay off big all the way back into the woods.  As the gradient diminishes, shift up and pedal at a pace you can maitain.  After the gravel road, it's parking lot, start/finish line then back into the woods.  I usually swing just a little wide entering into the woods if I'm following someone so that I can see the parking blocks.  Also, be aware that the person you are following may slow for the little root and the tree at the first little lefthander that you already know you don't need to slow down for :)