Years ago I took a mountain bike skills course hosted by Gene Hamilton, the founder and owner of BetterRide. We spent three days working on MTB skills and he would often remind us to “Look to Victory” whenever we were trying to clear a technical section, go through a tight switchback or power through a fast turn.
Quite often when we are trying to get up and over something technical like a rock or root section, the tendency is to look at what you are trying to get over instead of looking where you want to go or as Gene would say “looking to victory”.
Consider the rock armored climb just before you get to the new connector section on the JRPS North Bank trail. If you are looking down at the rocks you are trying to get over, your mind doesn’t know what to do next and many times you will just get stuck before you clear it. A few other good examples would be the rooty section between the two trees just before the rock garden on the Buttermilk trail or the rocky climbs out of Reedy Creek. The next time you hit one of those sections of trail, try looking to victory, look where you want to go after you successfully clear that feature.
The same goes for switchbacks and high speed turns, as you approach you should be looking into the corner of the turn, and then immediately switch your focus to the exit of the turn, this way your mind knows what to do next.
Check out the photo of Bryan Carpenter an expert racer here in Richmond, Virginia. He has just passed the apex of the turn and his eyes are looking ahead to the exit. Also notice his body and inside knee are pointed towards the exit. He has one finger covering each brake lever but he is not applying any brakes. He adjusted his speed as he came into the turn so he could begin acceleration once through the apex. Look to victory and you might just find yourself ahead of the pack at your next race or ride.
If you don’t want to try this on the trail, you can do it in a parking lot using a curb. Approach the curb and instead of looking down at the curb, look to victory, some spot 10 to 15 feet beyond the curb like a street sign or a tree.
Give it a try the next time you ride, stop back and post your feedback/comments.
Enjoy the Ride!